For years, people have been walking by the navy blue awning of 17-16 bar on Magnolia Avenue, wondering what the significance of the numbers 17 and 16 are. The name is significant of none other then a football game.
“The name 17-16 came from the Punt Bama Punt Iron Bowl game in 1972,” said Jon Hyink, owner of 17-16. “After the amazing finish to the game with Auburn on top, students and fans gathered at Toomer's Corner and started rolling the oak trees with toilet paper. The tradition continues, and we thought the score of the game would make a great name for a business in the heart of downtown Auburn.”
In 1972, Auburn played Alabama in one of the most historic Iron Bowls of all time. Two legendary coaches, Shug Jordan of Auburn and Bear Bryant of Alabama, brought their teams to Legion Field in Birmingham to play in one of the most exciting games in college football history.
"Alabama was ranked second in the nation, and there was a lot of talk from their players about how they were going to beat up on Auburn in the week leading up to the game," said Chris Godbold, owner of 17-16. "After a while, a few of our players got tired of hearing about it and put Alabama on notice that Auburn was going to beat the No. 2 out of Alabama and they sure did, in the best way.
Alabama was favored to win by 16 points, and they were winning 16-0 until the Tigers came back in the fourth quarter and ran back two of Alabama’s punts for touchdowns. The final score of the game ended up being 17-16, with the Tigers bringing home the win and the nickname for a game that has been known as Punt Bama Punt ever since.
The bar 17-16 is a reminder to the Auburn community of that game.
“Whenever I see the awning of 17-16, I think about Punt Bama Punt,” said Hope Murphy, exercise science student. “I wasn’t even at that game, but I know what happened and it gives me hope that even in our bad football seasons we still have a chance to beat Bama.”
Auburn will play its 122nd Iron Bowl against Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 28.