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Leatherhead of the Day: Dick McGowen


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Dick McGowen was the heart and soul of the Auburn football team during his time. While on the "Plains" he played quarterback, halfback, place kicker, punter, kick returner, and safety. He was magnificent wherever you put him, but punting was his forte. His first season, McGowen netted 40 yards per punt. In 1939, he booted 92 punts for an average of 43.03 yards a kick. In 1940, Dick averaged 43.7 yards an attempt. Remember the time period that he accomplished this in. His numbers put him in the top 10 for national punting for three consecutive seasons. In 1938 he placed 10th nationally, in 1939 he finished 5th, and in 1940 he placed 3rd.

But punting wasn't the only aspect that made him worthy of this post. McGowen was also a mainstay in the Tiger backfield, beginning with his 36 yard touchdown pass against Georgia Tech in 1938. In 1939, his 6 interceptions were good for 5th best in the nation. The same season he was a top 3 punt return man, averaging 10.2 per attempt. McGowen also served as Auburn's field general in 1939. In a defensive minded brawl against Mississippi State, McGowen's late touchdown pass to end Happer broke the tie, 7-0. The following week his field goal proved to be the difference in 10-9 victory over Villanova. Dick also made history when he threw the first touchdown in the history of Auburn Stadium on a "looper" to Babe McGehee. He also converted the PAT to secure the 7-7 tie with Florida. After the game McGowen was awarded the Blue Key MVP award for his efforts. At the conclusion of the season, McGowen finished 3rd in SEC MVP voting, missing 1st place by two votes. Despite coming up short in MVP voting, "Dynamite" Dick was selected to All-SEC team, just the 10th player in Auburn history to do so. He was also elected by his teammates as "Auburn's Best Star".

Dick carried the momentum into the 1940 opener against Howard by scoring the season's first touchdown, another toss to McGehee. In the second game of the year he hauled in the game winning touchdown from Loyd Cheatham to break a 7 year drought to Tulane, 20-14. Against Clemson, Dick almost single-handedly won Auburn the game. The 1941 Glomerata states: "Dick McGowen was Mister Football for the rest of the afternoon. Ol Richard the Lion Hearted ran rampant, scoring two touchdowns, converting three extra points, passing sharply and truly, and coming out much the best in a punting duel with Maness." This performance earned him his second Blue Key MVP award. Unfortunately, a leg injury deprived McGowen of a full senior season and perhaps a second All-SEC selection.

After his playing days, Dick came back to the Plains as a coach in 1949. He served as an assistant to Shug during the resurrection of the Auburn program and was the head coach of the freshman "Tiger Cubs". McGowen stayed as assistant coach for 17 years, witnessing two undefeated seasons and a national championship while on the staff.

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