Reid McMillian’s blood-in-the-snow heroics were apparently peripheral to Auburn’s crucial road victory over Arkansas in 1993, at least according to acclaimed crime writer and former Auburn defensive end Ace Atkins [whom Young Bartley recently wrote a great story you haven’t read but should about]. And no, the real secret has nothing to do with a half-time inspiration from a rosy-cheeked, first year head coach.
A Sports Illustrated piece on the game credits a Terry Bowden pep-talk about someone stepping up to make a big play, as well as a talk about Eskimos having to work all day at the Alaskan pipeline from secondary coach Jack Hines (who had a master’s degree in psychology), as the spark that gave life to that remarkable, radio-only second half.
Atkins, however, lays it all at the mouth of Otis Mounds, the Auburn strong safety with the troubled past who made national headlines while a redshirt freshman in 1990 for being paged to the playing field from the stands during the season opener against Fullerton State. Eight years later, Mounds landed a gig as LL Cool J’s stunt-double on the set of Any Given Sunday. (He later briefly coached cornerbacks for Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech).
“It’s funny how the truth vs. the myth is always confused in football stories,” said Atkins, who knows a little something about blending truth and myth himself.
“Someone told me… that it’s a famous story of how Terry Bowden came to the locker room at the Arkansas game and said you guys can be 8-1 or 9-0, or something like that,” Atkins said. “Anyway, it’s told as that being the turning point of that game.”
“The turning point came when we had been berated the entire first half by the Arkansas homecoming queen — yep, we were so bad in ’92, we were picked as homecoming — and finally… Otis Mounds had had enough,” Atkins said.
The Homecoming Queen’s name?
She was a varsity cheerleader. She cost her team the game. Because Otis Mounds had had enough.
“He turned around to the young lady – decked out in a fur coat and tiara – and yelled at her in the third quarter ‘Shut up, bitch.’”
“Now, that is what made the whole sideline pickup and we won the game,” Atkins said. “The girl was trying to get down to the field to slap Otis but she was held back by her court, her tiara falling off her head.”
Related: The Rise and Fall of the Bowden Empire.
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