As anyone living within the borders of Alabama knows, the rivalry between the Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers is a year-round proposition. The twists and turns of the Harvey Updyke case show the depth to which some fans will sink to demonstrate their hatred of their rival.
Fans would be mistaken, however, to think this kind of all-consuming hatred is a recent development. In the early years of the 20th century, the game was suspended for a number of years, as both sides had, in the minds of the leaders of both institutions, taken the rivalry to unhealthy extremes.
Our friend Taylor Watson over at the Paul Bryant Museum reminded of this by giving us a look at correspondence between Eugene Smith, chairman of Alabama’s Athletic committee and Roy Dimmitt, Chairman Auburn Athletic council.
The letters and telegrams dated November 1926 discuss the resumption of the rivalry, and the concern among the group that the resumption would lead to an unhealthy obsession among fans:
Auburn’s “calm conviction is that, although we might not return to the old bitterness and practices, we would encounter a more subtle, but equally damaging situation in that foot-ball would tend to become the all-the-year topic at both institutions and all other games, contests, and activities would be made subservient to the one supreme event of the year.
We’ve made the correspondence available below for you to download and examine for yourself. It’s a great insight into the history of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry, and the attitude of the past leaders of the schools’ athletic departments. Could it be that they were right about what would happen?