Cadillac Williams’ shirt served as both a prompt for Auburn fans and a sign of what’s to come at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
When Williams took the practice field Tuesday, his shirt displayed the phrase that has been associated with him for nearly two decades: Go Crazy.
Nineteen years after the late Rod Bramblett’s legendary call of Williams’ 80-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the 2003 Iron Bowl — “Go crazy, Cadillac!” — the phrase is now being used as a rallying cry for Auburn as it heads into Williams’ first home game as his alma mater’s interim head coach. Auburn (3-6, 1-5 SEC) hosts Texas A&M (3-6, 1-5) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium for what’s anticipated to be a raucous environment, the likes of which are typically reserved for Iron Bowls and the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry — not November matchups between two last-place teams riding five-game losing streaks.
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“It’s gonna be jumping, I know,” offensive lineman Kam Stutts said. “Talking with a bunch of players, we’re all excited about it, because we know the fans are going to show up. They’re very excited about Cadillac, and we are, too. We’re gonna show up and play for him. I know the fans will show up, and they’ll be cheering him on.”
Auburn is bracing for a big-game atmosphere Saturday under the lights. The student section’s official Twitter account on Monday posted a video from Williams in which he urged fans to show up and show out against Texas A&M. The video was likely unnecessary, given the buzz building the last week or so in anticipation of Williams’ first game leading the team in Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it also didn’t hurt to get his stamp of approval.
By Wednesday, Auburn announced the Texas A&M game was officially sold out. Despite Auburn’s struggles, and the fact the team hasn’t won a game since late September against Missouri, Williams’ elevation to interim coach has reignited hope and sparked excitement both within the Tigers’ locker room and throughout the fan base.
On Saturday, Auburn fans plan to reciprocate by showing their support of the struggling program as one of their own tries to navigate the Tigers through the end of a trying season.
“That’s what everybody’s been talking about these last couple of days, coming out to our home game,” defensive lineman Marcus Harris said. “That’s what all the students have been talking about and the fans have been talking about. So, I can’t wait to see how Jordan-Hare is going to be Saturday. I think it’s going to be crazy, like, a big game. One of the biggest games we’ve had.”
Jordan-Hare Stadium has been at capacity just twice in Auburn’s six home games already this season: the marquee nonconference matchup against Penn State on Sept. 17 and the primetime matchup with LSU two weeks later. Both of those were before the season truly went sideways for Auburn. It was 2-0 heading into the Penn State game, which wound up being the most lopsided home loss in a decade. There was still optimism entering the LSU matchup, with Auburn at 3-1 and coming off a thrilling overtime finish a week earlier against Missouri.
Auburn hasn’t won since the Missouri game, losing five straight during that stretch. Last weekend’s overtime loss to Mississippi State, in which Auburn rallied from a 21-point first-half deficit and twice took the lead in the final minutes of regulation, further revived a fanbase that was already rallying around Williams and the team in the wake of Bryan Harsin’s firing last Monday.
Williams said he expects a “dynamic, electric” atmosphere under the lights at Jordan-Hare, and he admitted he isn’t sure how he’s going to handle the emotions of running out of the south end-zone tunnel for the first time as Auburn’s interim head coach.
“I truly don’t want to make this thing about me,” Williams said. “I really want to give all the credit to these kids (and coaches)…. This thing is a collective effort. We are truly serving each other. We’re serving these kids. Us coaches, we’re serving each other. We’re in this thing together. This is not just a Cadillac show or a one-man show; this is an Auburn show.”
One thing’s for certain, though. Saturday night will be a show. Go crazy, Jordan-Hare Stadium. Go crazy.
Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.