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RT ( on 9/22/2010 - 11:16 a.m. says: ( 45 views , 3 likes )

"A day of remembrance for all AU people. Happy 100th Shug. "


The spirit of the greatest coach in Auburn Football history is still felt on the Plains.

Heisman, Donahue, Dye, Bowden, Tuberville ... all were successful

Auburn coaches whose names invoke memories of past gridiron glories. As

great as they were though, none was as great as Auburn's twenty first

head coach. None gave more of their life, their fortune, and their

service to Auburn University as Ralph "Shug" Jordan. He was the

quintessential Auburn Man, having dedicated the bulk of his 69 years on

this earth to serving Auburn. This Saturday September, 25th will be the

100th anniversary of his birth.

It is fitting that his beloved Tigers will be playing his wife

Evelyn‘s former school, the University of South Carolina, on this day.

It was on a basketball coaching trip to Columbia that the two met. They

later married and had two children: Susan and Ralph,Jr. Coach Jordan

always considered his family his greatest achievement. Today Ralph Jr.,

carries on the Auburn spirit of his father. Jay Coulter, editor of Track Em Tigers said that, " Ralph Jr.,  is the finest ambassador that Auburn has at it's disposal."

His father Ralph Sr. grew up in Selma, the son of a railroad worker

and was a multi talented athlete at Selma High. Following high school,

he began a life long love affair with Auburn University. At Auburn, Shug

was a star basketball player, center on the football team, and left

handed pitcher for the Tigers. He lettered in all three sports. In 1932,

he was voted the Most Outstanding Athlete at Auburn.

That honor is even more significant when one considers that he played

with the "Phantom of Union Springs," Jimmy Hitchcock, Auburn's first

All American. After graduation he was hired as head basketball coach (12

seasons), head freshman football coach, and was an assistant coach for

varsity football. Some are surprised to learn that Shug was head

basketball coach long before he was head football coach. He is fifth on

the list for most wins at Auburn.

He only left the school two times and both of those decisions speak

volumes about the kind of man that was James Ralph Jordan. The first

time he volunteered to serve his country in World War II. He served in

both the Pacific and European theaters and was involved in some of the

fiercest battles of the war. He earned a bronze star and a purple heart

for wounds received at Normandy on the D Day invasion of France.

After being discharged from the army with the rank of major, Jordan

returned to coach at Auburn. It was law at the end of the war that

employers had to rehire returning veterans. There were reports that this

created tension with the other Auburn assistant coaches. Therefore

rather than cause problems, he left for a short coaching stint in the

pro's before taking the head basketball coaching job at Georgia. The

move also gave him the opportunity to be on the staff of legendary

football coach Wally Butts.

Jordan returned to Auburn in 1951 to take over a football program

that had not had a winning season in five years. The rest of the story

(as they say) is history. He was a Hall of Fame coach that took his team

to 12 bowl games, produced 176 wins in 25 seasons ( making him the

winningest Auburn coach in history), a National and SEC championship, a

Heisman Trophy winner, an Outland Trophy winner, a slew of All

Americans, was named National Coach of the Year, named SEC Coach of the

Year four times, and was the first living coach to have a football

stadium renamed in his honor.

Auburn Football may have had it's genesis under George Petrie, but it

was under Ralph Jordan that it grew to maturity. Jordan-Hare went

through three expanions during his tenure, tripling in size, increasing

by over 40,000 seats. And he was the man that put Auburn on the map as a

national power. Every coach after him (and rightly so) is measured by

the yard stick that is Ralph "Shug'"Jordan.

After stepping down as head coach, he served on the Auburn University

Board of Trustees for five years before his passing on July 17, 1980.

He succumbed to leukemia after having given most of his life to the

University he loved.

Shug Jordan may be in heaven today, but a part of him can be felt in

the buildings and grounds on the Auburn campus and in the stadium that

bears his name.  His competitiveness, his gentlemanly persona, his

legacy, and his influence lives on in the players he coached, and in the

lives he touched. Happy 100th birthday Shug!

. . . This Saturday, on his birthday, I hope his Tigers win one for "The Coach."

p>gers win one for "The Coach."



"I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted."
  "All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful."
Flannery O'Connor


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