1999 - War Chicken Card
SEC Football Fans were not happy with Auburn's last minute bail
In 1999 Florida State and Auburn were scheduled to kickoff the 1999 college football season with a nationally televised game on ESPN. Not only was it to highlight two great programs but also the first Father vs. Son match up in college football coaching history.
As soon as this game was scheduled, the hype began for this historic Father-Son match up. ESPN in PRIMETIME, national TV audience, two huge football powers, what a better way to start the college football season? The problem was, the season prior to this historic kickoff, Terry Bowden suspiciously resigned (some call it fired) midway thru the season.
Yes Terry Bowden had struggled to a 1-5 start that season but he had also lead the Auburn football team to heights they had never been before his arrival. He led the probation-shackled 1993 team to an undefeated 11-0 season. They didn’t lose until their 10th game in 1994. In 1997 he took Auburn to the Southeastern Conference Championship game, a game Auburn lead most of the way, until Peyton Manning led a 4th quarter Tennessee comeback. Then the 1998 season was a disaster, with injuries, off the field issues and academic problems. The Tigers started out 1-5 and Bowden resigned. Bowden maintained that he quit only after a highly influential Auburn booster and trustee, Bobby Lowder, told him he was fired at the end of the season, thus giving Bowden no chance of turning things back around.
Bowden vs. Bowden was dead. Daddy vs. Son was dead. But Auburn at Florida State would still be a great game to kickoff the 1999 season as a loaded Florida State the was ranked pre-season Number 1. The 1999 Auburn team was unranked had to go to Tallahassee and they knew Bobby Bowden not only had a team that was scary good, but Ol’ Bobby might take out his whipping stick on poor downtrodden Auburn, after all they had just fired his boy! He had the guns and Auburn was scared, so what do the leaders of Auburn University do? Right after National Signing Day, they backed out; canceled the game with FSU! ACC Commissioner John Swofford called it “absolutely reprehensible that a university the stature of Auburn would ever consider canceling a contracted football game that has been scheduled for national television less than seven months prior to kickoff.”
Not only were FSU fans pissed, but most of the SEC brothers of Auburn were equally embarrassed. An SEC school running and hiding? Canceling a game because it looked to be a mismatch? The Georgia Bulldogs would never have done that. The LSU Tigers would never have done that. And hell no, The Alabama Crimson Tide would surely never be so cowardly. Heck, even most of the Auburn fans were pissed.
What also was suspicious about the whole Terry Bowden resignation was that Auburn paid large dollars to Bowden. A coach quits and you pay for his lake house as well as a payoff? Of course Auburn also had to pay others for that canceled game. Just another great college football storyline that led to a great SMACK t-shirt