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Tiger Rags Vault
Pat Dye. Bo Jackson. SEC Championships. Auburn football’s decade of glory.
AAfter beginning the decade with a disappointing season, 1981 brought legendary head coach Pat Dye to the Plains. In 1982, Dye led Auburn to a 9-3 record and its first bowl appearance in eight years. The Tigers appeared in a bowl game every year for the rest of the decade. The most memorable year of the 80’s came in 1983, when Auburn went 11-1 to claim the conference championship – winning the Iron Bowl, SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl along the way. In 1985, running back Bo Jackson became the Auburn’s second Heisman Trophy winner. The Tigers won three consecutive SEC championships in 1987, 1988, and 1989. Pat Dye is credited for organizing the first ever Iron Bowl played in Auburn, which took place in 1989.
Known as one of the shirts people love to hate, the Gator Hater shirt is considered one of Tiger Rags most famous designs. The shirt caused an extreme uproar and encouraged the rivalry between the Auburn Tigers and the Florida Gators. They sold so fast that the Tiger Rags owners had to make frequent trips to Atlanta to pick up more plain white Russell T shirts for their design to be printed on. At this time, the shirts were printed by hand so you can imagine the time commitment it took to keep this sale going. Unfortunately, Auburn University asked Tiger Rags to discontinue the design after someone spray painted Gator Hater on the side of Jordan-Hare stadium. The infamy of the design lives on and was even mimicked by many. When asked if it bothered them that people were essentially stealing the design, one of the founders and owners of Tiger Rags, Charlie Gross stated, “Mockery is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Red Man’s loose leaf chewing tobacco was extremely popular in the 1980s and inspired the Tiger Rags designers for this Auburn vs. Florida State University sweatshirt. Although they acknowledge that this shirt could never be reprinted, the men who designed this iconic gameshirt look back on it with fond memories. The shirt was printed for the 1988 Sugar Bowl, which inspired the sweet tooth reference on the can. Although the Tigers lost, the shirt still remains one of the team’s favorite designs.
Many years ago Georgia Tech was one of Auburn’s biggest rivals, so this gameshirt takes us down memory lane. Auburn achieved a 31-10 victory for the homecoming game over the Yellow Jackets. Fun fact: Georgia Tech’s mascot, Buzz, was created by Mike Lester – a member of the Tiger Rags family. Lester created the Tiger Rags version of an Auburn tiger, who he named Rags, in the ‘80s. The owners wanted Rags to be the more ferocious and mischievous version of Auburn’s beloved Aubie. One out of the three founders and owners of Tiger Rags, Charlie Gross, describes the designs by Mike Lester as “real talent and real works of art.”
The iconic “Whammy on Miami” design developed from humble beginnings. Not only was the design created by hand, but the design process took twice as long on a navy shirt as opposed to the standard white gameshirt. During the 1984 football season, the Auburn University art department created a sheet of colors and mascots of the opposing teams and allowed the students to come up with the gameshirt ideas. When it came time to take on the University of Miami, Auburn students had developed the perfect phrase for this legendary game shirt!