Recently, The Four-Year-Old caught on to the fact that there are multiple fighting beasts associated with the Auburn University football team.
The Four-Year-Old: “Is the Auburn mascot a tiger or an eagle?”
This is not a question that I am in any way equipped to answer. Fortunately, The Four-Year-Old’s grandfather attended Auburn and is more than happy to instill The Four-Year-Old with the appropriate respect for the school’s sporting traditions.
According to Grandpa, the official (and award-winning!) Auburn University mascot is a costumed tiger named Aubie.*
The college’s name and its mascot both come from an Oliver Goldsmith poem, “The Deserted Village.” The opening line of the poem yields the college’s name: “Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain.” The school’s mascot, the “crouching tigers [who] wait their hapless prey” don’t show up until quite a bit later when life has frankly gotten a bit bleak in Auburn village.
Grandpa: “The term ‘Plainsmen’ also comes from a line in that same Goldsmith poem.”
“Now wait a minute,” said Mommyo, who it must be said is not noted for her football acumen. “Where do the Plainsmen come in?”
Grandpa: “In the early days Auburn athletes were mostly men from the Plains. The reference was shortened to ‘Plainsmen’ and is also the name of the University student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman.”
The Four-Year-Old, impatiently: “But what about the eagle?”
Grandpa: “‘War Eagle’ is a battle cry, used by Auburn fans in the same manner Alabama fans yell ‘Roll Tide!’ and Arkansas fans yell ‘Woo Pig Sooie!’ War Eagle is also the official fight song of Auburn University.”
The Four-Year-Old: “No, I mean the eagle flying over the field.”
Grandpa: “Oh, you mean War Eagle VII, Auburn’s current golden eagle symbol. The Four-Year-Old, do you want to know what he’s called?”
Silly question, Grandpa.
The Four-Year-Old: “Like the TV show?”
Mommyo: “Wait. A tiger, plainsmen, and an eagle? How many symbols does one team need?”
The Four-Year-Old, decisively: “As many as Auburn.”
*Fun Auburn fact: Did you know that Aubie began life as a cartoon character? Birmingham Post-Herald artist Phil Neel created him for the Oct 3, 1959 football game program. Aubie didn’t start working the games in person until 1979.
- Discovering the legend of Auburn’s War Eagle (By Lander Sea)