Since Nick Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa, the Alabama Crimson Tide have largely dominated Auburn in the Iron Bowl. But in the past three years, the Tigers have taken victory in one of college football’s biggest rivalries. Now, one ex-Auburn player believes that the pendulum has decisively swung in his team’s favor.
At the NFL Combine this week, former Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene asserted that the Tigers have the best program in the state of Alabama. He explained that their combination of recruiting and coaching will allow Auburn to prove it in the next few years.
Auburn narrowly beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl this past year, effectively knocking the Crimson Tide out of the College Football Playoff in the process. Though they managed to do so with Alabama star QB Tua Tagovailoa out with an injury.
“I feel like Auburn has come around as the best in that state,” he said Friday in Indianapolis. “So I really feel like the next couple years we’re gonna show that. Recruiting, everything. The coaches are winning. So I’ll see. We’ll all see.”
Igbinoghene may need to check his math on the recruiting front though. Most recruiting analysts have regularly ranked Alabama’s annual recruiting class above Auburn’s.
But the importance of the Iron Bowl as it applies to the two teams’ status in the SEC – let alone the national title picture – can hardly be overstated.
Since Saban took over Alabama in 2007, the Iron Bowl has essentially become an SEC Championship Game eliminator. The winner has represented the SEC West in the title game 10 of the last 12 times.
Meanwhile, the loser of the Iron Bowl has not been to the SEC Championship Game since 1993.
We’ll find out later this year if Igbinoghene is right about Auburn’s ascension or not.