We now know what years Auburn has deemed worthy of calling itself champions.
In January, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said the school was looking at recognizing seven seasons as national championship years to go along with its two official titles in 1957 and 2010.
Three have unofficially made the cut, as the school is now listing 1913, 1983 and 1993 as "champions" on its website. Must have been something to do with threes.
However, the new additions are apparently not "official" championships. According to Brandon Marcello of the Alabama media group, the school is still listing 1957 and 2010 as its only official titles.
Auburn updated page on 5 national titles w/ clear NCAA record book citation. School still only claims 2 titles. No change.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) May 16, 2014
Even without the official designation on the new three seasons of champions, it's a slippery slope.
All three championship seasons are arbitrary, but 1993 is the most egregious. Yes, the Tigers were 11-0 in that season, but Auburn was ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA probation. It was part of a two-year postseason ban after Eric Ramsey, a former Auburn player, had taped conversations showing how he got money from people with Auburn's football program.
It's like Ohio State awarding itself a 2012 national title in 2033.
In 1983, the team finished No. 3 in the AP and Coaches polls after it beat Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. Auburn finished the year 11-1, only losing to Texas in the second week of the season. Miami and Nebraska finished the season ahead of the Tigers, but neither team was undefeated. According to Auburn's site, the Tigers played the toughest schedule in the country that season.
The 1913 Auburn team finished 8-0 and only gave up points in its final two games of the season. It finished undefeated with Chicago and Harvard.
Why would Auburn be doing this? Well, it's biceps-measuring contest with in-state rival Alabama, who lists 15 national titles in similarly not-so-official official fashion. In three of those seasons, Alabama was not undefeated while another major college football team was.
The title-listing ridiculousness also doesn't mean anything either. While fun to tout, the impact of an inflated number is moot and while the 1913 title may be a legitimate claim, its recognition doesn't do much for Auburn on the recruiting trail. There's not a recruit in the country who will now go to Auburn because the school is listing the pre-World War I-era team as a champion.
But hey, Auburn can say it now has five champion teams, even if it still really only has two. And it can make money off merchandise touting it until title No. 6 comes along. And thankfully, with the College Football Playoff we've now got a universal way of determining a champion. At least until a school 50 years from now claims a title after its undefeated team was unfairly left out of the top four.
- - - - - - -