Discover the stories behind Auburn’s Mascot Tiger Named Aubie, How they acquired the Tigers Nickname and more!
NICKNAME: How Auburn became the Tigers
How does the movie character Sybil compare to Aubum University? Both seem constantly to wrestle with their
multiple personalities. It’s stated quite clearly by the university that the offIcial nickname for Auburn athletic teams
is “Tigers.” However, a casual observer of Auburn sports may be confused by screams of “War Eagle” at its athletic events. A more puzzling fact is that they’re sometimes called the “Plainsmen.” Both terms own a special place in the hearts of Auburn fans, but they are the Tigers.
The Auburn “Tigers” nickname is derived from an Oliver Goldsmith poem, “The Deserted Village,” which was published in 1770. The all-important line includes these words, “where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey …. “
The term “Plainsmen” comes from the same Goldsmiths’ poem, “Sweet Aubum, loveliest [sic] village of the plain …
” These words prompted newspaper writers to describe Auburn athletes as Plainsmen.
AUBURN: A FEATHERD TIGER AND AUBIE THE COSTUMED TIGER
Nearly thirty years later the student had become an Auburn faculty member. He took the bird to the first Auburn- Georgia football game, an 1892 contest played in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. When Auburn scored the first touchdown, the aging eagle broke free from his old friend and began to soar above the field. When Auburn fans
looked upward and saw the eagle they shouted “War Eagle!”
Auburn defeated Georgia on that day, but their fans were saddened when War Eagle died after giving his all for an Auburn victory. However, the eagle’s spirit stills soars today when Auburn faithful stand and shout, “War Eagle,” after a victory.
In 1932, a group of Auburn fans got together and purchased a second eagle from a farmer for $10. However, because of economic problems caused by the great depression, the group could not afford to feed the bird.
Therefore, they decided to give it away to a carnival that was passing through town. Nearly 30 years later, in 1960, auburn received a wounded eagle from Dr. Dell Hill of Talladega, Alabama. An Auburn architecture student, Jon Bowden, cared for War Eagle III for a few months before eventually giving him away to another student, Elwyn Hamer. The eagle’s new caretaker was a member of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity and ever since, the brothers of that fraternity have taken care of Auburn’s eagles. Having the aviary, which houses the bird, named for him, would later honor Hamer.
During the week before Auburn’s game against Alabama in 1964, War Eagle III escaped and landed in a nearby backyard. The owner of the property shot and killed the eagle, claiming it was attacking his children. Auburn fans claimed the culprit was a jealous Alabama fan.
The following year, the City of Birmingham obtained an eagle from the Jackson, Miss. Zoo and presented the eagle to Auburn. War Eagle IV soared 15 years for the Tigers which is the longest reign of any eagle to date.
The next eagle to spread his Auburn wings was War Eagle V, who joined the Auburn faithful on the Saturday before the 1980 Alabama football game. The eagle that they acquired from Land Between the Lakes, Ky., arrived just in time for coach Doug Barfield’s final game, and helped to usher in the Pat Dye coaching era.
Auburn eagles often consume a diet composed of ground up meat, vegetables and vitamins. According to 1998 Tiger assistant trainer Aaron Wheeler, safety is the main concern when filling out Tiger’s menu.
“Tiger is not allowed to hunt because it would promote violent and aggressive behavior,” said Wheeler. “We don’t
allow that because she’s so close to the public.”
AUBIE: The Tigers’ costumed Mascot
Auburn’s Eagle is not the school’s only mascot that has a soaring reputation. A costumed tiger named Aubie helps to cheer university teams to victory. Aubie has notched several impressive wins as well. The Universal Cheerleader Association elected him as the nation’s number one college mascot several times.
Aubie’s existence began as a cartoon character that first appeared on the Auburn-Hardin Simmons football program cover in 1959. Birmingham Post-Herald artist Phil Neel, created the cartoon tiger that continued to grace Auburn football program covers for the next 18 years.
Aubie’s look has evolved through the years. In 1962, he began to stand upright, and the next year he dressed up for the first time, wearing a blue tie and a straw hat. Good fortune accompanied Aubie’s appearances on game programs for Coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan’s squads. The Tigers won the first nine games he appeared on the cover, and in his first six years, Auburn was 23-2-1 at home.
The Tiger’s home record during Aubie’s program cover 18 year span was 63-16-2. Despite these impressive numbers, they did not include Aubie’s name in the naming of Jordan-Hare Stadium. They transformed Aubie in 1979 when he came to life in the form of a costumed character at the SEC Basketball Tournament.
A New York based costume company, Brooks-Van Horn, used two program covers from the early sixties as a reference for creating Aubie’s outfit. The firm, which also provided costumes for Walt Disney, designed and produced the tiger costume for $1,350.
Not only has Aubie generated great fanfare at home, but he’s also attained great national recognition. The mascot has won multiple national championships as the nation’s top mascot.
The Beat Bama Parade
No football season is complete without the annual “Beat Bama” parade. This school tradition features student groups build floats to take part in this spirited event that ends with a pep rally at Toomer’s Corner.