Barkley played collegiate basketball at Auburn for three seasons. Although he struggled to control his weight, he excelled as a player and led the SEC in rebounding each year. He became a popular crowd-pleaser, exciting the fans with dunks and blocked shots that belied his lack of height and overweight frame. It was not uncommon to see the hefty Barkley grab a defensive rebound and, instead of passing, dribble the entire length of the court and finish at the opposite end with a two-handed dunk. His physical size and skills ultimately earned him the nickname “The Round Mound of Rebound” and the “Crisco Kid.”
During his college career, Barkley played the center position, despite being shorter than the average center. His height, officially listed as 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), is stated as 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) in his book, I May Be Wrong but I Doubt It. He became a member of Auburn’s All-Century team and still holds the Auburn record for career field goal percentage with 62.6%. He received numerous awards, including Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year (1984), three All-SEC selections and one Second Team All-American selection. Later, Barkley was named the SEC Player of the Decade for the 1980s by the Birmingham Post-Herald.
In Barkley’s three-year college career, he averaged 14.8 points on 68.2% field goal shooting, 9.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. In 1984, he led the Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament in school history and finished with 23 points on 80% field goal shooting, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Auburn retired Barkley’s No. 34 jersey on March 3, 2001.
During his time playing for the Auburn Tigers football team, he ran for 4,303 career yards, which was the fourth-best performance in Southeastern Conference (SEC) history. Jackson finished his career with an average of 6.6 yards per carry, which set the SEC record (minimum 400 rushes).
In 1982, Jackson’s freshman year, Auburn played Boston College in the Tangerine Bowl, where Jackson made a one-handed grab on an option pitch. Auburn went on to win the game 33–26 as Jackson rushed 14 times for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns.
In 1983, as a sophomore, Jackson rushed for 1,213 yards (1,109 m) on 158 carries, for an average of 7.7 yards per carry, which was the second-best single-season average in SEC history (minimum 100 rushes). In the 1983 Auburn-Alabama game, Jackson rushed for 256 yards on 20 rushes (12.8 yards per carry), which at the time was the sixth-most rushing yards gained in a game in SEC history and the 2nd best yard-per-rush average in a game (minimum 20 attempts) in SEC history. Auburn finished the season by winning the Sugar Bowl against Michigan, where Jackson was named Most Valuable Player. In 1984, Jackson’s junior year (most of which Jackson missed due to injury), he earned Most Valuable Player honors at the Liberty Bowl after defeating Arkansas.
In 1985, Jackson rushed for 1,786 yards which were the second-best single-season performance in SEC history. That year, he averaged 6.4 yards per rush, which at the time was the best single-season average in SEC history. For his performance in 1985, Jackson was awarded the Heisman Trophy in what was considered the closest margin of victory ever in the history of the award, winning over the University of Iowa quarterback Chuck Long.
Jackson finished his career at Auburn with 4,575 all-purpose yards and 45 total touchdowns, 43 rushings, and 2 receiving, with a 6.6 yards per carrying average. Jackson’s football number 34 was officially retired at Auburn in a halftime ceremony on October 31, 1992. He is one of only three numbers retired at Auburn. The others are 1971 Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan’s number 7, and the number 88 of Sullivan’s teammate and favorite receiver, Terry Beasley. In 2007, Jackson was ranked #8 on ESPN’s Top 25 Players In College Football History list.
Before each Auburn home football game, thousands of Auburn fans line Donahue Avenue to cheer on the team as they walk from the Auburn Athletic Complex to Jordan–Hare Stadium. The tradition began in the 1960s when groups of kids would walk up the street to greet the team and get autographs. During the tenure of coach Doug Barfield, the coach urged fans to come out and support the team, and thousands did. Auburn is the first known school to conduct an organized procession of players into the stadium. Today the team, led by the coaches, walks down the hill and into the stadium surrounded by fans who pat them on the back and shake their hands as they walk. The largest Tiger Walk occurred on December 2, 1989, before the first ever home football game against rival Alabama—the Iron Bowl. On that day, an estimated 20,000 fans packed the one block section of road leading to the stadium. According to former athletic director David Housel, Tiger Walk has become “the most copied tradition in all of college football.” As it grew in popularity, the Tiger Walk has become a fixture for road games. Fans will gather at visiting stadiums and cheer the team on from the buses into the stadium.
College Sports Established
1973 – Present / NCAA Division 1
1921 – 1973 / University Division of the NCAA
1932 – Present / Southeastern Conference
1921 – 1932 / Southern Conference
Tigers – Auburn’s only nickname is the Tigers. We’re the Auburn Tigers. Auburn has been known as the Tigers since the University first fielded a football team against Georgia in Atlanta in 1892.
The nickname “Tigers” comes from a line in Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, “The Deserted Village,” published in May 1770, “where crouching tigers await their hapless prey…”
The widespread use of “War Eagle” by Auburn devotees has often led to outside confusion as to Auburn’s official mascot. However, the official mascot of Auburn University is Aubie the Tiger, and all Auburn athletic teams, men’s and women’s, are nicknamed the Tigers. Auburn has never referred to any of its athletic teams as the “Eagles” or “War Eagles.” The university’s official response to the confusion between the Tigers mascot and the War Eagle battle cry is, “We are the Tigers who say ‘War Eagle.'”
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