Auburn Football Legend and Heisman Winner Pat Sullivan Will Coach Samford Against Tigers


Auburn football legend and 1971 Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan will be back in town Saturday as the head coach of the Samford Bulldogs.

Sullivan is in his eighth year at Samford and his 14th season season as a collegiate head coach. Since taking the position December 1, 2006, he has guided the Bulldogs to a 47-42 record, including a 7-3 mark this season and the first Southern Conference championship in program history in 2013. That record also makes him the program’s all-time winningest coach. Sullivan passed former Auburn head coach Terry Bowden for the distinction with a victory over Western Carolina November 8. Earlier this season, the university announced the team’s field house would be renamed in his honor.

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Additionally, Samford has now clinched their fourth consecutive winning season under the former Auburn football star. Sullivan has a career head coaching record record of 71-84-1, combining his Samford tenure with his 24-42-1 mark as the head coach at TCU. He was also an assistant coach at Auburn from 1986 to 1991, a time in which he coached the quarterbacks under Pat Dye.

As a player at Auburn, Sullivan was a three-year starter at quarterback and led the Tigers to a bowl game in each season. He was the SEC Player of the Year and an All-American in 1970 and ’71, and of course became the first Tiger to win college football’s most prestigious award – the Heisman Trophy – in 1971.

That season, Pat Sullivan completed 182 of 325 passes (56%) for 2,262 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. While those stats may look less than impressive today, Sullivan finished second in the nation in touchdowns, sixth in passing yards, ninth in completion percentage and led the Southeastern Conference in each. Sullivan led the Tigers to a 9-2 record in 1971 with the only two losses coming to SEC Champion Alabama and third ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

The 1970 season was even better for Sullivan statistically. He led the nation with 2,856 yards of total offense, completed 59.4% of his 281 passes for 2,586 yards and 17 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, and threw for a career high 351 yards in the Gator Bowl victory over Ole Miss. Sullivan ranked in the nation’s top five in touchdowns, passing yards and completion percentage that season and led the nation with a 9.2 yards per attempt average and a 148.2 passing efficiency rating. He also led the Tigers to a 9-2 record. His 258.6 passing yards per game in 1970 stood as a school record until current Auburn assistant coach Dameyune Craig set a new mark with 273.1 yards per game in 1997.

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  • In the Auburn record book, Sullivan ranks fourth in career passing yards (6,284 yards), third in total offense (6,843), and he still holds the Auburn football record with 53 career touchdown passes.

    Sullivan isn’t the only connection between Samford and Auburn, of course. Bulldogs running backs coach Kodi Burns played at Auburn and was a member of the 2010 National Championship team and a former graduate assistant coach. Also, Tigers’ offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee served as the OC on Sullivan’s staff in 2011.

    Saturday, the Bulldogs will be looking for their first victory in 28 tries against the Auburn football program. The Tigers lead the all-time series 26-0-1 including a 12-0 mark at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The tie occurred in 1927. The Auburn graduate was the head coach of the Bulldogs the last time they played the Tigers in 2011 – a 35-16 Auburn victory. And Sullivan knows beating the Tigers is a long shot.

    “This Auburn team is the best team we’ve played since I’ve been here,” Sullivan said. “They’re the most talented team we’ve played. They’ve lost a couple of games, but they’ve beaten good teams and I’m sure they’ll be ready to go.”

    Still, he’s sure to enjoy his trip back to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

    “It brings back a lot of special memories,” he said.

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