Monday, June 2, 2014

What if...Orange Jerseys Worked?

It's summer. All Auburn athletic events are over for the time being. And boredom sets in when Auburn isn't playing, well, anything. So today I plan to start a new series that I hope can last through the long summer. This whole series will be based on "What if...?". What if Auburn had done this or that. It will all be based on uniforms throughout Auburn's history, mainly the football program. So let's get to the first installment of this new series.



"What if..." Auburn had actually won while wearing the infamous orange jerseys? We all know the story. Auburn wore orange jerseys against Georgia much to the surprise of everyone. Sadly, Georgia ended up stomping Auburn. Except that's not the whole story. Many people think that Auburn only wore those orange tops once, maybe twice. But according to Auburn alum Patrick Campbell through a UniWatch article, Auburn actually wore orange jerseys at least five times. Two of those games were in the 50s, and Auburn lost both of those games (1951- Georgia, 46-14; 1955 - Tulane, 27-13). Let's just throw those games out for the time being, as they were in the era in which the uniforms aren't documented very well. The next (documented) time Auburn broke out the orange tops was the Nov. 18, 1978, game versus Georgia. That game ended in a 22-all tie. That game also gave us our first color photos of the orange tops. 

Auburn wore the orange tops the following year on Nov. 10, versus Mississippi State where the Orange Tigers got their first win. One of the best photos of those jerseys came from that game. November 8, 1980 versus Southern Miss resulted in a 31-0 blowout victory for Auburn. Those "bad luck" orange jerseys now have a two-win streak. What do you guys think about them now? Well, hold on one more second. The very next week, on Nov. 15, Auburn faced Georgia in what we know as the Orange Jersey Debacle. Georgia won the game 31-21, and the orange jerseys have yet to be seen again. Here's a great picture from that game:

Orange everywhere: facemask, jersey, belts. Shortened helmet stripe, Weagle pride stickers. Wow!

After we total all the scores, the orange jerseys have compiled an over record of 2-3-1. Not bad actually. 
Back to the original question: What if Auburn had actually won wearing the orange jerseys? Well, looks like we've already answered that question. Auburn did win, twice. But let's change the question a little bit. What if Auburn had won in the orange jerseys more. Or should we make is "versus Georgia?" All in all, Georgia killed the orange tops. But what if Auburn hadn't been blown out in 1980? What if Auburn made it close? Or even won? Well, I don't have tape for that game, so I don't know specifically how it all went down. I don't know what play should or should not have been made in order to win. But for the sake of argument, let's say Auburn did indeed win that game. If you noticed, the four times Auburn wore the orange tops were at the end of the season, three of which were the last home game. If Auburn had actually won, don't you think we might have seen them again the next year? Or even the years following? Or at least until they had been blown out (unless they had actually seen success with them in that time)? Would Auburn have taken them to Birmingham for the Iron Bowl soon? It was only nine years later that Alabama would come to Auburn for the first time. What are the chances we would've seen orange jerseys in one of those games? 

Personally, I think if that one game had gone differently, we'd still be seeing orange jerseys. Yes, it's possible that they would have suffered the same fate, but who knows. Barfield wouldn't have been fired after that loss (no one's complaining right?) and the orange jersey easily could have written their own history. Honestly, I don't think the orange tops make for a great look. The striping is awful and backwards. The main stripe should be blue, no doubt about it.

And the odd part of it all, if anyone were to know about wearing alternate jerseys with a traditional uniform set to begin with, would be Georgia. Georgia has had such an up and down history with their black tops, and Auburn fans unfortunately remember the 2007 Black Out (as do Gary and Verne) very well. Even when fans claimed the black jerseys to be "bad luck," Georgia seems to break them out for a big game and wins (remember the 2008 Sugar Bowl versus Hawaii?). 

Who knows, we could probably had seen an Orange-on-Black Deep South's Greatest Rivalry game. On the other hand, never mind. That would look awful...

So, what do you think would happen if Auburn actually beat Georgia in 1980? How would that affect our uniform history? 

Hope you guys enjoyed this piece. I hope to do a few more like this in the coming weeks; I already have a few ideas. Feel free to send over some ideas you may get if you wish. 

War Eagle!

11 comments:

  1. It's interesting. I didn't realize we've worn them 5 times. I always liked the idea of wearing orange on occasion but seeing them in action changes that. They don't really look good. I would like to see blue helmets and blue pants with our white jerseys for an away game. I've toyed with different combos on NCAA video games and this combo looked really good.

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  2. I'm good with them. Doesn't bother me as long as any jersey change is to honor an Auburn jersey from history and not some funky space age creation.

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  3. I think it would be worth trying out for homecoming. Maybe wear throwback jerseys for homecoming every year. It gives fans another reason to bother with coming.

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  4. I remember my dad saying that AU wore orange when he was there in the early 80s under Barfield. He said they brought them out against a top 10 Miami team and got absolutely smoked so we never brought them back out again. Worth looking into anyways.

    On another note- what if the 1929-32 "tiger head" jersey stuck-at least in concept? Would we now have "tiger eyes" jerseys?

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    1. havent been able to find anything on us wearing them against Miami personally. And for all I know he couldve forgotten the details. He wasn't really positive it was Miami but he remembers us getting whooped in them once while he was at AU

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    2. The games mentioned earlier are the only documented games, thus far. I'd love to learn of more games. I'll look into that Miami game, let me know if you find anything as well.

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  5. Just like "What if Tebow had gone to Bama?", I have no desire to ponder horrible alternate realities.

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    1. Haha! That's why we are sticker solely to uniforms here. People on twitter where submitting questions like "If Russell Wilson had signed with Auburn" and other similar questions. Uniforms only here.

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  6. Hey Clint, thanks for bringing my research to light again. For those that don't know, I'm uniform sensitive and have always been intrigued by the Tiger's flirtations with the orange jerseys. They were retired 7 years before I was student at Auburn so I didn't have any memories to go on. But I realized that, over the years, the orange jerseys had led to legendary tales that varied depending on how much a person either loved or hated them. But the one thing that finally pushed me to research it was an interview with Tim Jackson where he cited that 1978 Georgia game and the "fact" that Auburn got stomped. I knew that was erroneous because I had a newspaper article documenting the game.

    So with the help of the Google Newspaper Archive and pictures from some old Glomertas that are accessible online, I put together what I feel is the complete, modern history of Auburn in orange jerseys.

    BTW, the orange jerseys were used in the 1981 A-day game - I have an article somewhere that indicated Coach Dye hated them so, just to make sure they were never used again, he decided to finish them off by using them for A-day.

    I also just noticed something else from the photo of the 1980 Georgia game. Note that James Brooks (#21) has sleeve stripes, as does the QB. That indicates they weren't wearing tear-aways, which had not stripes (see the top photo of Joe Cribbs).

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    1. Thanks for chiming in PC! I had someone on twitter point the sleeve stripes out. The odd part, the top Joe Cribbs photo, Joe is not wearing a tear-away. It's too heavy duty of a jersey to rip apart like we've seen from that decade. It honestly looks more heavy duty than the regular jerseys being worn by the other players. It could very well be a tear-away, but I don't really think it is.

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    2. I'm not so sure, Clint. I think in that photo there's a small tear under Cribbs' left arm. That should give it away. The fabric on those jerseys wasn't all that thin. It was basically a cotton t-shirt. What they lacked were hems - that's what allowed them to tear so easily. My high school used them in the late '70s and early '80s. I remember the mangers bringing stacks of jerseys for the QB's and RB's into the stadium and lining them up on a table next to the fence. Best I can tell, the NCAA outlawed them around 1982. I think the guy who is credited with using one first is Browns RB Gregg Pruitt.

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