Auburn rivalry is rich in history ...
by Loran Smith
photo by Ryan Scates
The Georgia-Auburn game has been played since 1892, with Auburn winning the first game at Brisbine Park in Atlanta. Since that time the rivalry has been virtually even in its history although Auburn enjoyed as much as a five game lead a few years ago.
Georgia has a chance to even the series with a victory on Saturday. The Bulldogs are enjoying a more prosperous season than the Tigers, but that only means the Dawgs can’t take this struggling Auburn team for granted. That has always been the case with this rivalry, the Deep South’s oldest.
Auburn leads in the ancient series 54-53-8, but Georgia has won five of the last six games. For years there has appeared to be no home field advantage. Georgia’s record at home since defeating Auburn in 1959, 14-13 is 11-17. In Athens all time, Auburn leads, 12-18. At games played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Georgia leads 14-10-2. The Bulldogs also lead in games played in Columbus 22-16-2.
Many of those games played in Columbus in old Memorial Stadium were classics.
For sure the activities Georgia-Auburn week in Columbus were memorable.
“The week of the game in those days, there was a fistfight everyday at recess,”
remembered the late Bill Hartman several years ago. The cocktail parties began on
Monday and reached a crescendo on Friday night. After the game, there was an
unparalleled soiree at the Columbus Country Club where the partying lasted into
the wee hours. Partisans of each institution partied as hard as the teams played
on the field in the afternoon.
The two teams began playing in Columbus in 1916, a neutral site arrangement
that had one break—when Georgia won 24-0 in Athens in 1929, the year Sanford
Stadium was originated. The last game in Columbus took place in 1958 when
Auburn won 21-6.
Memorial Stadium seated about 20,000. The game was a ticket scalper’s
dream. Hundreds of spectators seemed to find a way to crash the gate, which
made it seem that there were two people fighting it out over the same seat. “It was
so bad,” said Shug Jordan, the long time Auburn coach, “that if you got up to go
to the bathroom, you lost your seat.”
The aging stadium was showing its age with the passing of time, and there was
the realization that the two teams were foregoing considerable revenue by allowing
the game remain in Columbus.
Politically, it was difficult for Georgia with all the staunch Bulldogs residing
in Columbus. Judge Frank Foley, the founder of the Georgia Student Educational
Fund, hated to see the game go as did the family of George “Kid” Woodruff, the
one time Bulldog football coach who helped Foley with the startup of GSEF.
Whenever I think of the many wonderful and colorful Bulldogs in Columbus, I always
remember one of my favorite characters, Frank Lumpkin Jr.
Lumpkin played football for the Bulldogs, a member of the Red Devil team
which evolved into the B-team which evolved into the Scout team of today. This
meant that he spent considerable time scrimmaging on the practice field, but did
not see any game action. Under the rules and traditions of today, he likely would
With that in mind, Hartman recommended to Vince Dooley when Dooley was
athletic director that Lumpkin be given a letter after the fact which Dooley approved.
Look in the football media guide and you will find the name of Frank G.
Lumpkin as a football letterman, 1929-30. Lumpkin was sitting on the bench
when the Bulldogs defeated Yale in the Sanford Stadium dedicatory game in October
1929. He saw Catfish Smith score all points in the memorable 15-0 victory.
When the 50th anniversary of the Bulldog victory over Yale took place in
1979, Lumpkin was one of the eager participants. Waldo Greene, the Yale captain
flew into Atlanta from Texas and attended the reunion party. It was a stimulating
affair involving the Bulldog ole timers. Nobody enjoyed themselves more than
Frank Lumpkin. A long time member of the GSEF executive committee, Lumpkin
was a generous contributor to Bulldog athletics. He was an advocate of the
work of Dan Magill and was outspoken in his support of the Bulldog coach, historian
and personality. “Nobody,” Lumpkin would say, “has done more for the
University of Georgia than Dan Magill.” There were legions in enthusiastic agreement.
A colorful character if there ever was one, one story about the bombastic
Lumpkin had to do with his antipathy for Auburn. When his son Frank III was
born, the story goes that the senior Lumpkin took baby Frank downtown in a
bassinet to proudly show off his infant son.
It developed that Frank got into an argument with an Auburn man in the
street. Soon blows were being passed, Frank holding Baby Frank in the bassinet
in his left arm and punching away at his adversary with his right.
Lumpkin, always one to play favorites, was often given to second guessing
coaching and personnel decisions. However, it was like the old brothers-fighting-
in-the-backyard story. Don’t you interfere or they both will gang up on you.
That was the way it was with Frank Lumpkin. He might fuss about what was
going on with the Bulldogs, but if you were an outsider and castigated his favorite
team, you better be ready to put your dukes up, because Frank Lumpkin would
be coming after you.