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ESPN says Auburn has the greatest pregame tradition in the SEC

Nova takes flight (Photo: Auburn University)
Nova takes flight (Photo: Auburn University)

Anyone who’s ever been to an Auburn home football game knows that pregame is special. And it seems that ESPN knows it too. A group of ESPN writers recently had a roundtable discussion to determine the best pregame tradition for each of the Power 5 conferences, and Auburn’s eagle flight was named the best for the SEC.

Here’s what ESPN writer Edward Aschoff said about Auburn’s eagle flight:

From Bear Bryant’s speech before every home game at Alabama to South Carolina’s dizzying playing of the theme song to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the SEC is full of fun before kickoff. Although a walk through The Grove or running through the Power T are great to watch, I’m going with Auburn’s War Eagle. It’s tough to pull off consistent tricks with live mascots, but Auburn’s golden eagles have a long and illustrious history of soaring around a raucous Jordan-Hare Stadium and landing at midfield before every Auburn home game, which always sends Tigers fans into a frenzy. The current eagle, Nova, is the eighth bird to inspire Auburn’s rabid home crowd.

Auburn started flying eagles around the stadium before home games in 2000 before it officially became part of the pregame festivities in 2001. The first eagle to make the flight, named Tiger, also flew at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tiger retired in 2006 and Auburn now has two eagles that share the tradition: a golden eagle named Nova (aka War Eagle VII) and a bald eagle named Spirit.

Many Auburn fans (and football fans in general) will probably remember when Spirit made headlines in 2011 after he flew into the window of one of the luxury boxes during his pregame flight. Spirit recovered and continues to share the tradition with Nova today.

The eagle flight is just one part of Auburn’s unforgettable pregame experience. Even the marching band gets a hype video. The pregame festivities are just one example of why SEC fans voted Jordan-Hare Stadium as the best in-stadium experience earlier this year.

In the other Power 5 conferences, Clemson won in the ACC for Howard Rock, Ohio State’s marching band dotting the “i” in the script Ohio was the clear choice in the Big Ten, Kansas State’s band playing “Wabash Cannonball” for the student section won the Big 12, and Ralphie’s Run at Colorado won for the PAC-12.

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