Auburn football had an incredible season in 1972. 8-1 was the record for the Auburn Tigers, heading into the Iron Bowl on Dec. 2 that year. In the press conference leading up to the game, Alabama coach Bear Bryant stated, “I’d rather beat that cow college than beat Texas 10 times.” Alabama was scheduled to play Texas in the Cotton Bowl in January 1973. 

Alabama was undefeated and ranked second in the nation going into the game and had a 16-0 lead by the fourth quarter. Auburn made a field goal, then blocked two punts, and returned for touchdowns.

Don’t underestimate the Auburn Tigers because they came back and ended up winning 17-16. The game is known as the Punt Bama Punt game and inspired the popular bar in Downtown Auburn, 1716. It was also the most iconic Iron Bowl win before the Kick Six. 

After the game, Bryant said he regretted his “cow college” comment, but Auburn students loved it and proudly owned being a cow college, which is why the term stuck around. 

The students loved the nickname so much that they nominated Bessie, the cow, for Miss Auburn in 1979. Bessie’s platform was “Legalize Grass,” and her slogan was “Bessie – She Won’t Steer You Wrong.” Bessie’s campaign quickly gained the support from most of Auburn’s campus. There were posters, t-shirts, handouts, and Phi Kappa Tau even painted “BESSIE” letters and placed them in front of their fraternity house.   

Bessie was known to be a Mu Omega Omega (MOO) sorority member, the captain of the intramural pasture muffing throw team, an active member of SGA, and a Barn House Sweetheart.

Bessie was nominated as Miss Auburn with a total of 2,385 votes, the most significant margin of victory in the history of a Miss Auburn election. Bessie's human runner-up, Cindy Murphy, fulfilled Miss Auburn's duties for the year and promised to "do Bessie's job well."

If you want to represent the classic Auburn nickname, Cow College t-shirts are available here.