Oct. 6, 1973
On Oct. 6, 1973, Ralph “Shug” Jordan became the first active football coach in the nation to have a stadium named in his honor. In a special ceremony before that day’s game with the University of Mississippi, Auburn University renamed Cliff Hare Stadium as Jordan-Hare Stadium. Gov. George Wallace was on hand for the event.
Jordan was born in Selma on Sept. 25, 1910. He received the nickname, “Shug,” as a boy because he loved to chew on sugar cane.
Jordan attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University), where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball his sophomore, junior and senior years, and was voted by his teammates as Auburn’s Most Outstanding Athlete in 1932. He graduated that same year with a degree in education and a reserve commission in the U.S. Army.
Beginning in 1932, Jordan worked for a few years as the Auburn freshman football coach and an assistant coach for the varsity football team. During World War II, he served in the Army Corps of Engineers, taking part in such notable battles as the Normandy invasion and the Okinawa campaign in the Pacific in 1945. Jordan received a Purple Heart for a shrapnel wound he sustained to his left arm during the invasion of Normandy. He also received the Bronze Star.
In 1951, Jordan became the head football coach at Auburn University. During his 25-year career, he recorded 176 wins, 83 losses and six ties, having more wins than any head football coach in Auburn history. His teams played in 12 bowl games, including the Orange and Sugar bowls.
Jordan’s 1957 team, which had a 10-0 record, won the Associated Press national championship. His teams finished ranked in the AP Top Twenty 13 times, the Top Ten seven times and the Top Five four times.
Jordan was named National Coach of the Year in 1957 and was recognized as Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year four times. He was posthumously inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1982.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.