UPDATE: The Game Tonight Begins at 8:30 EASTERN/7:30 CENTRAL
When I met him in 1984, he was in the investigations unit of the Auburn University Police Department. Since I spent more time at Auburn actually writing for the Auburn Plainsman than I did going to class, I soon developed a good friendship with Melvin. Often riding my bike back to the CDV-Extension from the paper, I’d stop by and tap on the window of the detectives room to catch up.
Melvin was always good for a laugh and when I saw him here in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl in 2008, he was just as jovial as ever.
Melvin used to love to go to Auburn basketball games in those days. We had Chris Morris, Chuck Person, and had just seen Sir Charles Barkley–(We called him The Bread Truck) leave for his career in the NBL.
One particular night, Melvin had arrived at a basketball game before I had and I’d stopped to check in with him. He was laughing about Auburn’s mascot Aubie. Aubie has a tradition for being just on the sane side of wildly crazy. He’s played usually by two guys each year. One typically does the first half of a game, and then spots for the other the second half. He’s a flirt. He dresses in crazy attire. He’s won the national mascot championship for being, well, Aubie.
So that night Melvin was laughing because just before I got there Aubie had been running to jump over a table and he hadn’t made it. “He just jumped over a table and his foot came off.”
At the Liberty Bowl game that year in Memphis, as usual, Melvin was down on the sidelines with Coach Pat Dye. He’d told me to come down at some point and he’d try to get me onto the sidelines. I did, but the Liberty Bowl staff didn’t budge on letting me down. It’s okay though. It still means a lot to me today that Melvin at least tried.
Melvin has been through a lot of changes at Auburn since the days when I was there. He’s seen the police department folded and the law enforcement handed back to the City of Auburn. He’s seen Coach Dye, Coach Bowden, Coach Tuberville, and now Chizik. But the one thing that’s remained the same about Auburn sidelines has been Melvin Owen. Some day the guy should write a book. He was even there the night the Georgia Section got out of hand and Chief Jack Walton turned the sprinklers on them. Remember the chant the next time? (Hose em back, Hose em back, Way back!)
But tonight, I can only imagine what all he’ll be thinking about. All these many years he’s been down there a foot or two behind the coach, and I’m fully expecting to see him there tonight, too.
He’s been on quite a journey and no doubt would be humbled to be mentioned here. He’s never been about attention for Melvin. And that’s just another thing that’s made him all that more special.
War Eagle, Melvin. And congrats on tonight.
- Aubie The Tiger And The Angry Inch (Of Snow) (sbnation.com)
- The Quad: Auburn’s Rich History in Space (thequad.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Tostitos BCS Title Game Breakdown: All That and a Bag of Chips (bleacherreport.com)
- Auburn AD: Knew Chizik would get us where we needed to be (sportingnews.com)