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There was no denying it—Auburn was the best team in the best conference in America. It was obvious, it was on the record. Which is why Auburn grad Will Collier felt fans attending or tuning in to the Alabama-Florida game on Dec. 4, 1993 deserved to know what they were actually watching: The SEC Consolation Game.
The best way to do that? Just fly a banner over Legion Field and tell them.
Collier, having just earned his Master’s Degree at the University of Texas, and Michael Deavers, his former roommate at Auburn, came up with the idea after Auburn upset the Gators on October 16, when it became obvious God wanted Auburn to win it all. There were still plenty of conference games left, but beat Arkansas and Georgia, and Auburn, despite probation denying them their rightful spot in the SEC Championship Game, would have won the SEC “on the field!,” as an ecstatic Terry Bowden would shout in the locker room after Auburn did beat the Bulldogs in Athens a few weeks later.
After 11 and 0! 11 and 0! 11 and 0!!!, it was a go, go, go.
But Deavers, who did most of the legwork, hesitated. How would Auburn fans react to the stunt? Find it funny? Find it tacky? He wasn’t sure. To put his mind at ease, he called Auburn sports information director David Housel. Housel gave his blessing, Collier says, “on the condition we didn’t use the words ‘SEC Champs’ like we’d intended.”
They decided to go with “38-35” — the score of the Florida game — “AUBURN ‘BEST IN THE SEC’ 22-14” — the score of the Alabama game. They picked up the phone.
The plan was just to dial up a few hundred dollars, enough to keep the banner up in the air for maybe half an hour. Collier and Deavers only personally called a few possible donors each, each from their shared hometown of Enterprise, Ala.
By midweek, checks were pouring in from all over the country.
They two friends wound up with more than enough — the extra money was donated to the university — to fly the banner for the duration of the game, and they did.
They weren’t the only ones.
Other Auburn fans had also decided to troll the friendly skies. At least three other plane-pulled banners could be seen over Legion Field at some point during the game: “Auburn, The Real SEC Champs—War Eagle”…. “SEC Consolation Game—War Eagle”… “Real Champ 11-0 Auburn Beat Both.”
“But ours was the only one that made the ABC broadcast,” Collier brags. “I figure getting noticed by Keith Jackson trumps everybody else.”
Ironically, Auburn’s sports information staff was responsible for press box operations at the game. So it’s probably safe to say Housel saw it, too.
“I saw David Housel,” Jackson told color commentator Bob Griese halfway through the 4th quarter. “He’s just walking around shaking his head and smiling…”
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More Fun 1993 Stuff:
* Watch the 1993 and 1994 Auburn episodes of Florida Football Highlights with Steve Spurrier
* The 1993 Auburn Iron Bowl victory license plate
in the background in ‘Winter’s Bone behind JENNIFER LAWRENCE
* Watch Terry Bowden’s press conference response to 1993 Mississippi State allegations that Auburn inflated football with helium
* Terry Bowden says Auburn has a right to claim the 1993 national championship