4 Saturdays: 1985 Iron Bowl ‘The Kick’

August 2nd, 2014 welcomes only 4 Saturdays left until the start of college football, thank God. A couple of mornings ago, I woke up and went outside before the sun had risen and a light cool front had come through the area of the world that I live in.

It reminded me so much of a cool crisp Autumn morning and Fall was in the air. Fall means football and believe me we are getting so very close to the beginning of what promises to be an outstanding football season on every level. Whether you are an NFL fan, which I am, or a college football fan which I really am or even a high school football fan, the days are getting near.


It was November 30th, 1985 when the Alabama Crimson Tide took on their hated rival, the Auburn Tigers.

bo jackson

Auburn was 7th ranked and had the marvelous Bo Jackson at tailback. Bo Jackson won the Heisman Trophy that season while rushing for 1,786 and 17 TDs.

Auburn started the season at #1 but lost to the Tennessee Vols 38-20 in the third game. Then, they lost again on November 2nd to #2 ranked Florida.

They did beat #4 Florida State, 59- 27 and they beat #12 Georgia, so they were 8-2 coming in.


Bo Jackson was a very talented player that was not only one of the all time great Running Backs, he was also an outstanding baseball player and a sprinter in track. At 6-1, 230, he ran a hand timed 4.12 40 yard dash for pro scouts. Bo Jackson also high jumped 6’9″ in high school and triple jumped 48’8″. Bo Jackson was one of the all time greats of this game and one of the worlds greatest athletes in general.

Auburn’s Fullback was the also talented Tommie Agee.


Auburn was coached by Pat Dye. Dye coached at Auburn for 12 years and compiled a 99-39-4 record. Reportedly, in his interview for the Auburn coaching position he was asked how long it would take him to beat Alabama. His reply was “60 minutes”. Another colorful college football coach and a reason why I love the game so much.


Alabama was coached by Ray Perkins who had the misfortune of following Bear Bryant. Nobody follows a legend like the Bear successfully.

Perkins first team at Alabama in 1983 went  8-4. In 1984 the Crimson Tide went 5-6 which is an unforgivable sin at Alabama. Perkins teams did bounce back and go 9-2-1 and 10-3. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lured Perkins away from Alabama after the 1986 season.


Ray Perkins

Bama was unranked at the beginning of the season. They won 4 straight and entered the polls before losing to 8th ranked Penn State and rival Tennessee in back to back weeks. They won a few games and tied LSU therefore going into this game they were 7-2-1 and unranked again.


Mike Shula was QB for the Tide, Gene Jelks a really good freshman was at Running Back who was more famous for turning Alabama in to the NCAA, later on.

Interesting match up, Right Tackle Stacy Searels, the Offensive Line coach vs big Jon Hand the Defensive End for Bama. Tide defense also claimed Cornelius Bennett one of the all time greats at LB.


Defensive tackle Tracy Rocker for Auburn was outstanding.  He was a freshman and the team’s leading tackler at defensive end. Rocker was never that successful in the NFL, but he was a really great college football player later winning the Outland and Lombardi Trophies for the nation’s best lineman.


I wish current offensive coaches would watch this game and see what kind of weapon a Fullback can be. The Tight End and the Fullback have always been a vital part of any offense until recent times and I really miss those days. I appreciate any offensive coordinator that at least uses a Tight End in his offense.


This was a brutal, hard fought battle that was a shame that anyone had to lose.


Auburn took a 23-22 lead into the last minute of the game. Alabama got the ball back on their own 20 with 57 seconds left.


This already exciting ball game, just got a lot more exciting with time running out.


Alabama QB Mike Shula dropped back to pass and he threw into double coverage and almost had the ball picked off.

On 2nd down, Shula got sacked by a hard fighting Auburn defense back on his own 12 with only 37 seconds remaining.


On 3rd down, Shula hit freshman RB Jelks on a pass near the sidelines and the clock stopped with 4th down and 4 yards to go for a first down.


On 4th and 4, Alabama pulls out the old proverbial bag of tricks and ran a double reverse with WR Al Bell running all the way to the Alabama 46 yard line with 21 ticks left on the clock.


Shula threw to  Greg Richardson but the pass was nearly picked off. 15 seconds left on the clock and the fans were going nuts. Auburn fans and players had to be sweating bullets and hoping for a big play by the defense.


Shula dropped back again and took forever. Offensive Line for Bama did their job well and he had all the time in the world. Problem was, there wasn’t all the time in the world. Shula finally saw a wide open Greg Richardson, but he was in the middle of the field and Bama was out of time outs. Richardson makes it to the sideline, sort of, killing the clock with 6 seconds left. Some refs would have kept the clock rolling because he looked to be tackled on the playing field. It was hard to tell from the television angle and he may have made it out of bounds, so it could have gone either way.


6 seconds left on the clock and Van Tiffin was Alabama’s only shot at beating a tough and still fighting group of Auburn Tigers.

He had to make a 52 yard Field Goal against the wind. He had missed an earlier 52 yard attempt and now the pride of the state of Alabama was placed squarely on his shoulders.


Van Tiffin became the hero of the day as he cleared the goal posts winning the game for the Alabama Crimson Tide 25-23 in a wild finish to a spectacular football game.


This game would forever be remember as ‘The Kick’.



I’m not from Alabama.


But, I like Alabama. I also like Auburn.


This game reminded me of the time when Sugar Ray Leonard met Thomas ‘The Hitman’ Hearns in a welterweight boxing match. It was a brutal slug fest and when the final bell had rung a boxing fan such as myself appreciated a great fight so much and wanted both guys to win. It was pure fun to watch, just like this game.


I, for one, appreciated a hard fought classic football game that went down to the wire and it was great to see Van Tiffin lifted in the air by his teammates. While at the same time, it was hard to see the faces of the losing Auburn players, coaches and fans. My hat is off to the Auburn Tigers for a game well played and for giving everything that they had that day.

I particularly enjoyed watching the game in the trenches and the match between current Virginia Tech Offensive Line coach Stacy Searels and Big Jon Hand. They had a war that day.


The 1985 Iron Bowl may have been the greatest of all time. But, I am not sure it was any more exciting than the 2010 version or the latest game of 2013.

Those two games went Auburn’s way.


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