Was a New Auburn Tradition Confirmed in 2014?
The beginnings of some Auburn traditions are better known than others. We know Tiger Walk started in the 1960s. And the Eagle Flight started in 2000. But, we don’t really know when people started rolling Toomer’s Corner. And there’s another Auburn tradition with an unknown birthday, but we do know one very important date in its development—September 27, 2014.
Auburn students have been throwing the ball out of the stadium after opponents’ field goals and extra points since at least 2011. The ritual may have made a major step in 2014 on its journey from cult practice to sanctioned tradition. Several students have been ejected from Jordan-Hare Stadium for throwing the ball out, but something different happened at the 2014 Homecoming Game (vs. Louisiana Tech).
After La. Tech’s third-quarter touchdown, the extra point ball was tossed upward by the students. The video board (or, jumbotron) then shows everyone the drama at the top of the section. A student—presumably—wearing a no. 5 Auburn jersey has the ball. The police, or security guards of some type, have already gathered near him, waiting to execute his sentence once he completes the ritual. Also in the scene is a friend—or some highly kindred spirit—wearing a no. 12 jersey. He’s a few rows down from the top, pleading emphatically with the security detail to give no. 5 their blessing.
When no. 5 cocks his arm back to throw, the video board cuts away, but the action is easily seen from anywhere in the stadium because so few people are at the top of the section. It’s La. Tech, and some of the students who showed up to begin with have already left. The video board cuts back to the scene, and then away again a couple more times throughout the proceedings.
Anyhow, no. 5 heaves the ball, but it strikes the framework below Pat Sullivan’s portrait-sign and falls down to the bleachers. Our hero retrieves it and tries again. This time the ball is liberated. The cops step in and guide him to the aisle. It’s unclear whether no. 12 is also being ejected, or if he’s just going down with the ship.
Immediately a group of about twenty guys wearing khakis and sport coats fill the aisle, overflowing it on each side. The blazer blockade detains the expulsion process momentarily.
They reach the landing and start toward the tunnel. Now more students intervene. The chant develops quickly and fervently. LET HIM STAY! LET HIM STAY! The shakers pulse in time. The party reaches the tunnel, but stops. There’s a moment of hesitation, and then the prisoners are released! They triumphantly bound up the stairs to their high perch. The people have won.
I was at every home game in 2014, and I didn’t see any student ejected for tossing the ball the rest of the season. If law enforcement has decided to take their hands off the ritual, it marks a significant change from their position in 2011, when they mildly threatened to not only eject the final thrower, but also charge him or her with theft.
If tossing the ball achieves the status of named Auburn tradition, we’ll need a better name for it. One suggestion, via reddit, is Up and Over. This title conjures Jim Fyffe’s call from the 1982 Iron Bowl, “Up and over, and in!” Whatever we call it, if the practice becomes official tradition, we’ll want to know more about just when it started.
I’ve found very little on the internet besides the above mentioned Plainsman article. If you have any information on how early Auburn students were throwing the ball out, please let me know. Likewise, if you know who nos. 5 and 12 are.
Also, here’s the only video I found. There’s not much to see (the final throw is at about 1:00), but you get the idea.
Let him stay! Let him stay!
Apparently, no. 5 was not a student.
@auburnjosh I saw it. The thrower was maybe 10-12 he was with a parent/guardian. After being released they did sprint back up 2 many cheers.
— Greg Blackman (@Lil_BucCoach) January 22, 2015
If no. 5 was a minor, his exemption from ejection tells us nothing about law enforcement’s policy. Does anyone know whether any students were ejected from any games after La. Tech?
**CONCLUSION (for now)**
I very much appreciate everyone who took time to share their memories in effort to discover when this tradition started. After reviewing the comments below, and also the responses via social media, I’ve reached a tentative conclusion.
The tradition’s current life dates to the 2006 Florida game. That instance was not, however, the first time an opponent’s ball was thrown out. One responder claims that in 2001 every opponent-kicked ball that landed in the student section was thrown out. Another reader says balls were thrown out in the eighties. Nonetheless, the most common response was that the practice started at the 2006 UF game.
So my conclusion is that there may have been sporadic, or at times regular, ball tossing prior to 2006, but that the practice was dormant for some time leading up to that season, and was revived when Auburn beat the eventual 2006 national champions.
What remains to be seen is whether students will practice Up and Over in 2015, and whether they’ll be thrown out of the game for doing so.
Although we have a functioning answer for now, please don’t hesitate to share your ball-tossing memories, regardless of whether they support or contradict the current theory.
Thanks and War Eagle!