Everyone knows the names. Cam Newton. Nick Saban. Harvey Updyke. Mark Ingram. Gus Malzahn. Kick Six. Jordan–Hare. Bryant–Denny. The list goes on and on. Mention any of these to a sports fan, and they will immediately know exactly what you are talking about. But is this the greatest era in Iron Bowl history? I think so, and I am here to tell you why.
There have been many great eras in Iron Bowl history. The Tommy Tuberville “Fear the Thumb” years during the 2000s. The Pat Dye days during the 80s. Bear Bryant’s dominance in the 60s and 70s. But, there has never been a time like the last 5 years, where both Auburn and Alabama have been so dominant at the same time. Over that span, Alabama has won 3 BCS National Championships and 2 SEC Championships. Auburn has 1 BCS Championship, played in another and won 2 SEC Championships. Both schools have sent two players to New York City apiece, with Cam Newton winning it for Auburn and Mark Ingram for Alabama. AJ McCarron and Tre Mason were finalists.
The last 5 years have also provided a lifetime worth of Iron Bowl moments as well. In 2009, Alabama had “The Drive” to come back and beat Auburn in the final minutes. 2010 was “The Comeback” when Cam Newton and Auburn stormed back after being down by 24 points in Bryant–Denny. Not to mention last year, which will be remembered forever as maybe the greatest, wildest, craziest, most improbable ending to a football game ever. Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon took a draw and sprinted towards the sideline as the clock hit 0:00. Time for OT. Nope…Nick Saban asked for a review and the replay official ruled that 0:01 be put back on the clock. We all know how it ended. Saban attempted a 57 yard field goal that was returned 109 yards by Chris Davis for the win. All of these will live in Iron Bowl history forever just like “Punt Bama Punt”, “The Run in the Mud”, “Bo Over the Top” and “The Kick”.
The records over the past 5 years have been impressive as well. Auburn has gone 52-23, 49-14 if you take out the disaster that was Gene Chizik’s final year in 2012. Alabama has gone an impressive 69-8. Nick Saban is a proven winner and probably the best recruiter in the country. Under his watch, Alabama will always have a great defense and be one of the best teams in the country. Gus Malzahn is an up-and-coming coach, and possibly the best offensive mind in the game today. Many people think of his offense as a zone read scheme, but if you look at 2009 when he was the offensive coordinator, Auburn had Chris Todd at quarterback and Ben Tate at running back. Todd broke Auburn passing records and Tate had a season just as good as Heisman winner Mark Ingram from Alabama. Malzahn molds his offense around his players, which I believe will allow Auburn to consistently have dominant offenses year in and year out.
This is a golden age for Iron Bowl fans. With the best defensive mind roaming one sideline and the best offensive mind roaming the other, there are sure to be more incredible Iron Bowl moments in the near future. These kinds of runs never last forever so sit back, strap in and enjoy the ride while it lasts.