AP photo by Todd Van Emst|
Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan, left, and Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville will be opposing coaches when the No. 22-ranked Cornhuskers (9-4) face the No. 10-ranked Tigers in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Monday. Kickoff is 10:40 a.m. Monday.
A brothers finale
Auburn stars Kenny and David Irons leaving their mark among Tiger lore
By Bradley Handwerger
DALLAS — The question was bound to come up at some point to the brothers Irons.
“David, will this final time to play with Kenny be special?”
“Kenny, are you going to cherish this one last game to be on the same team as David?”
Almost as near a certainty, however, were their answers.
“I’m ready for it to come to an end,” said David, the elder Irons brother by 11 months. “It’s my last game with him. He might cry. I’m not going to cry. He’s an emotional type of guy. I’m not emotional. I’m defense. He’s offense. Offensive players are always soft.
“He might come to my hotel one night and be like, ‘David’s, it’s our last game.’ I’ll be like, ‘Kenny, go to your room. Don’t be soft. We’ve got a game tomorrow.’ It’s our last game. Hopefully next year, if we get the opportunity to, I’ll try to tackle him and try to kill him.”
Responded Kenny: “I’m glad to get away from him. Every day I wake up and I’ve got to see him. It’s exciting to play with him these past two years. I guess it’s time to move on.”
On Monday, when No. 10 Auburn (10-2) slips on its uniforms for the last time this season for its 10:40 a.m. Cotton Bowl game against No. 22 Nebraska (9-4), the brothers may be playing their final game on the same team.
To say only that they’ve traveled a long, twisting ride would take away from their story.
Kenny, in a well-known story among Auburn supporters by now, signed with South Carolina out of high school in Dacula, Ga. David went the junior college route.
Kenny, a running back, had a falling out with then-Gamecocks head coach Lou Holtz and wanted to transfer. David, a defensive back, was ready to move on from his stint at Butler County Junior College in Kansas.
And so they both arrived at Auburn.
And their legends grew. Their play backed up their off-the-field talk.
Now, one last time, they’ll take their comedy routine on the road.
According to Kenny, it’s going to be years before he begins reminiscing about his time playing with David.
“Yeah, when I’m about 80 years old,” Kenny said. “It has been fun.”
For now, there’s little time to think about it — what with their task of finishing their Auburn careers on a high note.
Kenny needs 179 yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season despite battling injuries. As is, his 2,114 career yards are 10th on Auburn’s all-time list.
ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has listed Irons as the top senior running back in the 2007 draft, but hasn’t predicted Irons to go in the top 25 players taken.
A good Cotton Bowl game could help his draft status.
“It’s big. It’s real big,” Kenny said. “It’s huge. Everybody’s going to be watching. It’s the last game of the season against a Big 12 team. I’m going to go out there and just go out with a bang.”
David, who has started 23 straight games, will look to remain Auburn’s main shutdown cornerback.
He has 11 passes defended this season, by far the most on the team. And he’s fifth on the team with 39 tackles. Additionally, the league’s coaches selected him All-SEC.
Of course, none of this would have happened had David turned pro after last season as he had planned.
“The money issue was the main thing with me,” Irons
“What I wanted I couldn’t get it. And the degree was more important. When I talked to Coach Tubs (Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville), he said I could get my degree and have a better year.”
When the final whistle blows on New Year’s Day, don’t expect David to cry. That is, of course, according to him.
“When this comes to an end, I’m glad,” David said. “He doesn’t cook or clean. I’d rather have a woman at my house than him to do my laundry. I finally get away from him.”
Ah, yes. One last joke for one last game.
The Irons brothers, ladies and gentlemen.
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