If Auburn were in any other state, they may have had more national prestige. If they were in the ACC, they may have have been a consistent powerhouse. But they’re in Alabama and even when they have a great season, they’re still Alabama’s little brother who’s just having an unusually good year. At least that’s how most of the country sees them.
Auburn will point to this stat or that stat and try and convince you that they have some relevance and they have had more success in this time or that time than Alabama, but no argument they make can undo these simple facts.
Alabama has 27 SEC titles while Auburn has but 8, for the math impaired, that’s over three times as many. They have just two more than Ole Miss at six and just three more than Georgia Tech, who hasn’t been in the SEC since 1963. Folks let me repeat that, three more than a team that hasn’t been in the SEC for 55 years! In fact they’re not even in the top five of schools with the most SEC Championships won on the field.
Still Auburn has had some good seasons in this decade spanning eight years so far. They’ve played for 2 national championships and won one of those. They’ve also beaten Alabama four times in the Nick Saban era since 2007. So that should have given them some kudos, even if that’s just 4 out of 12, because who else has beaten Alabama four times in the Nick Saban era? But still when you look at true relevance, Alabama has more than double the amount of national championships than Auburn has SEC Championships.
But perhaps the biggest hurt against Auburn is that they haven’t beaten Alabama in the recruiting wars since these high school seniors can remember. The national and state perception is that Alabama gets the best players and fields the best team. Alabama puts more folks in the NFL than Auburn so if you have serious NFL ambitions, you’d better try and get an Alabama offer. Plus since these guys were 11 years old, Alabama has been a national powerhouse playing with national championship relevance every year for the last 10 years and Auburn has been a yo yo team, up one year, down the next.
And if you don’t have the hearts and minds of future recruits that you are the program that can do them the most good, you’ll never overcome that gap that puts Auburn in the little brother status.
It’s like we said earlier, they could have been a force in the ACC and they could have ruled the state of Tennessee or maybe even Florida over the last decade had they been there, but they’re in Alabama and they’ll always be “that other school in Alabama”. While rabid Auburn fans will fight that notion, maybe as they should, because fan is short for fanatic you know, Auburn folks that are really in the know, know better. Even Auburn ex head coach and still mentor, Pat Dye was quoted as saying, “Everybody in Alabama tends to gauge a program by what’s going on in Tuscaloosa,” Dye told The Paul Finebaum Show a while back. “I was there. I don’t look at our situation at Auburn comparing it to Alabama because you can’t compare the two.
“We could play football for another 500 years and we couldn’t catch up with the tradition Alabama has got, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good football program and a strong football program. It doesn’t mean we can’t have football teams that recruit good enough to beat Alabama on occasion.”
So there it is in a nutshell, the most important person with the longest lasting relationship with Auburn in the last 25 years agrees with everything put forth in this article. So before you disagree with someone who doesn’t know Auburn football as well as Alabama football, explain why the man who knows Auburn football better than you do why he’s wrong.
Auburn will not eclipse Alabama in the next 500 years just as Pat Dye said. Alabama will continue to be Alabama and well, Auburn will continue to be Auburn. The world is better when there are underdogs, so there is a place for Auburn in Alabama’s world and it’s a welcomed place for Alabama fans. After all, the biggest thing about Alabama’s greatness is getting to rub it in the face of people who want to be you so badly and make fun of every misstep you ever have.
But look at the bright side Auburn fans, it’s better to be Alabama’s little brother and get some of the residual sunshine from that association than to be Tennessee’s little brother as Vanderbilt has been. Where’s the residual sunshine in that?
So to answer the question is Alabama making Auburn more irrelevant than they already are, the answer would have to be no. By being compared to Alabama, they are being less irrelevant and are actually gaining more notoriety. Should Auburn get the wish of many of the power brokers and one day move to the SEC East and avoid playing Alabama on an annual basis, that would only hurt them all them more.
At least by standing in Alabama’s shadow, they are at least in the picture.
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Larry Burton has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter