Home / Sports / Football / The University of Alabama tried to buy 1,000 cowbells from Mississippi State to bring to the 1974 Iron Bowl; Texas fans took them to annoy Auburn at the Gator Bowl

The University of Alabama tried to buy 1,000 cowbells from Mississippi State to bring to the 1974 Iron Bowl; Texas fans took them to annoy Auburn at the Gator Bowl

MSU’s Industrial Education Association welding hand-friendly handles to cowbells in 1974. Bama tried buying 1,000 of them for the 1974 Iron Bowl. (Photo: MSU Reveille)

The latest chapter in the cowbell controversy: Auburn fans are taking cowbells to Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. Or at least some Auburn fans are. Or at least there are a couple of pictures of Auburn-ed out cowbells being retweeted with exclamation points of varying degrees of endorsement or embarrassment.

The noise from the brouhaha, be it real or artificial, has finally reached Starkville, much to the amusement (seemingly) of Mississippi State fans.

“The more the merrier,” writes MSU blog For Whom The Cowbell Tolls.

“Frankly I’m surprised a school has not done this before.”

Well, turns out they kind of have… but not to get under Mississippi State’s skin. It’s been done at least once (and attempted at least twice) to annoy Auburn.

From the 1975 Mississippi State yearbook’s summary of the 1974 football season, during which Shug Jordan protested the presence of cowbells at SEC games so effectively the SEC eventually banned them:

“Knowing Jordan’s extreme love for cowbells, the University of Alabama tried to purchase 1,000 cowbells for their game against Auburn.”

Not fans, not students, not alumni: “The University of Alabama”, full stop–at least according to The Reveille.

At the time, Mississippi State’s Industrial Education Association was mass-producing customized cowbells that were sold at the MSU student bookstore.

It doesn’t appear as if the deal went down, or at least Auburn quarterback Phil Gargis doesn’t remember cowbells being at that year’s Iron Bowl (which inspired a rule change of its own) like he remembers them (ever so well) being at Auburn’s game against the Bulldogs.

He does, however, remember them being at Gator Bowl that year. Is he imagining it?

No he is not.

“To the delight of a strong Auburn following and to the dismay of Texas’ cowbell-carrying fans, the Tigers held a 16-3 halftime lead over the touchdown-favored Longhorns,” the Auburn Plainsman wrote in its story on the game.

“Yeah, they (Texas fans) brought them down for the Gator Bowl,” Gargis said. “They just did it to be aggravating. It wasn’t enough to really make a difference.”

Auburn wound up trouncing Texas, 27-3.

“I think they threw the cowbells away after the first quarter,” Gargis joked.

Gargis said the bells were mostly rung during pregame activities.

“There were very few of them. It was most just a symbolic type thing, trying to get in kids’ heads.”

What about Shug’s?

“No,” Gargis said. “He just kind of rolled his eyes.”

[UPDATE: Oh, Auburn players apparently did it, too.]

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More MSU stuff:

* If you can’t deafen’em, blind’em
* Former AU quarterback Phil Gargis talks about the 1974 Auburn-Mississippi State game that led to cowbell ban
* Dana Carvey, Kevin Nealon were stoked to watch Auburn beat Mississippi State in 1986 ‘Saturday Night Live’ episode
* Mississippi State fan sues Auburn, SEC over confiscated cowbell; calls rule ‘unconstitutional’
* Shug: ‘The cowbells have no place in college football’
* That time Mississippi State accused Auburn punter Terry Daniel of filling footballs with helium

About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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