By Jay Coulter
Football Saturday In The South
On Friday’s show, ESPN radio’s Colin Cowherd ranked the most well known coaches in the country – not the most successful, just the best known. He ranked John Madden first. He ranked Madden first not because of his on-field success (he did win a Super Bowl) but because of his name recognition as a broadcaster and most importantly, his video game franchise. It’s hard to argue with that choice. Other names that made the list included Mike Ditka, Dick Vitale and Lee Corso. They all made names for themselves more through television than coaching.
That got me thinking. Who are the most well known Auburn athletes in the country? Again, we are looking not for the most successful on-field athletes but the most well known. We are also talking about today and not in year’s past. Here’s my list. Please feel free to share yours with us…
1. Charles Barkley - He is perhaps the most well known athlete to come out of Auburn University. The fact that he’s a basketball player makes the accomplishment all the more amazing. After retiring and being named one of the NBA’s 50 best players of all time, Barkley continues to grab headlines through his role on TNT’s NBA coverage, his numerous books and his many appearances on ESPN and other networks.
2. Bo Jackson – Despite dropping out of the public eye after his playing days, Bo Jackson continues to be a national figure. For a 2-3 year period in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Bo Jackson was arguably the most famous athlete in the world. Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky actually appeared in Bo’s commercials. His Nike commercial campaign is still one of the most famous of all times. Had Bo decided to stay in the public eye he would easily be the most well known athlete in Auburn history.
3. Tim Hudson – The former Auburn pitcher and SEC Player of the Year made a name for himself after being drafted by the Oakland A’s. During his tenure in Oakland, he along with Barry Zito made up the best pitching duo in the major leagues. While his fame has dimmed somewhat since joining the Braves, Hudson continues to be one of the marquee names in Major League Baseball.
4. Carnell Williams – After leading the Tigers within an eyelash of the national championship two years ago, Cadillac enters his second NFL season as one of the hottest running backs in the league. Named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year last season, Carnell has become a regular of ESPN Sportscenter and a darling of the national media.
5. Tommy Tuberville – While technically not an athlete, Coach Tuberville should be on this list. Often mentioned with Georgia’s Mark Richt as the top coach in the SEC, Tuberville is making a name for himself nationally. The way he handled Auburn’s case for the national championship two year’s ago and the way he continues to recruit and win has made Tuberville one of the top names in the college game.
Other big names that come to mind in no particular order include: Rowdy Gaines, Ronnie Brown, Shug Jordan, Pat Dye, Pat Sullivan, Stephen Davis, Mark Bellhorn and Marquis Daniels. I know there are glaring omissions. Please feel free to set me straight.
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