As Auburn’s head coach, Gene Chizik currently has an 80.7 win percentage. I think.
That’s only good for second best in Auburn history.
The title belt belongs to the most mysterious Auburn coach of them all, a Yankee journeyman who replied to George Petrie’s telegrammed solicitations to Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn for a coach to relieve Petrie of his founding duties after the inaugural season of Auburn football, and surprisingly agreed to the terms for the unpaid, food-and-board only position.
His name was David M. Balliet. He was a former standout at center at Lehigh and later at power-house Princeton* and he coached and won just one game for the Auburn Tigers. As fate would have it, it was one of the most important in school history: the first Auburn-Alabama game (yep, this was intended for Beat Bama week – the Chizik win percentage stat saves the timeliness).[Click to enlarge]
Auburn has little record of the one-win wonder. But thankfully there’s Purdue, which is where Balliet took his perfect percentage shortly after the game with Alabama and settled into a successful head coaching stint with the Boilermakers, and where several photographs were taken of his mischievous mustache. (Dude just looks like a trickster.)
I’ve gathered bits and pieces on Balliet over the years (he could throw a hammer 82 feet), but the most interesting I found just recently. It’s a remembrance of a prank play the ol’ chap got away during a Lehigh-Penn game (somewhat similar to the Florida jockstrap juke of ’73).
From the October 29, 1928 Princeton Brown and White:
Dr. Malzahn, please note the ingenuity (the McCalebb fumblerooski is so played… actually, what am I saying – do whatever you want!).
* In his biography of Dr. George Petrie, Mike Jernigan lists Balliet as having played for Penn. I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain he’s mixed up on that.
Thanks to Purdue Assistant Athletic Director Tom Schott.
If you like TWER and would like to help us keep the lights on and the obsession with Auburn lore unhealthy, click here.