GameDay: Talk about how nerve racking that 52-yard field goal to beat Auburn in 1985 was.
Van Tiffin: I wouldn’t say it was necessarily nerve racking. The way it all went about kept that from being the case. If it had been a situation where a timeout had been called, the way they ice the kickers today, it would have been extremely nerve racking. But there was so little time and we were so deep in our own territory that I’m thinking we’re not even going to get in field goal range. The first couple plays go nowhere, we’re running out of time, then a couple semi-big plays happen. You’re kind of caught up in the moment, speed of things moving, you’ve got to get out there and get the kick off. So, that was really to my benefit. I would hate to know what it would have been like had there been a timeout called, to sit there and ponder the consequences of that kick.
GD: Talk about the celebration after you made that kick.
VT: It was one of those things, you knew it was a big deal, but you didn’t know it was that big at the time. You look at it later and say, “Wow. That was really a big deal.” People around me knew it was a big deal. Everybody got excited, the stands came on the field, players came out. It was obviously one of the highlights of my career, and the happiest moment. It’s kind of odd having people make a fuss over something like that. You’re not used to it.
GD: You also hold the Alabama record for longest field goal made, a 57-yarder against Texas A&M, also in 1985. Which one do you think was more impressive?
VT: The Auburn kick was much more difficult. The kick I had against Texas A&M, that one happened the last play before the half. If we get it, that’ll be great, if not, nothing’s lost. Not only that, there was a good wind to my back, so there was plenty of breeze to help the ball get there. But the 52-yarder [against Auburn], it was into the wind, so that was definitely much more difficult and much more gratifying to make.
GD: Talk about the Iron Bowl and how much that rivalry means to you.
VT: Growing up, I always knew the Alabama-Auburn game was the big game of the year. I grew up as an Alabama fan and understood it. But I really did not understand what it meant until my freshman year, and we lost to Auburn. We didn’t play well; I didn’t kick well. It was just a really rotten day. When I walked off the field, I understood what the rivalry meant. Nobody had to explain it to me after that.
GD: How proud of your son were you, for him to take as much scrutiny as he did his freshman year and then come back and become one of the best kickers in Alabama history by the end of his college career?
VT: All kickers are going to have a challenge sometime in their career. Nobody’s going to have a perfect career. I’m really proud of the way he did throughout his career there, especially his last couple years I thought he really got into a groove. And then last year, making AP All-American and being as consistent and strong of kicker as he was. He really did an extremely good job, and I’m extremely proud of him.
GD: Who is going to win this year’s Iron Bowl and why?
VT: That’s a tough question to answer. Even as a player, I never thought we were going to go into a football game and lose. I hope that’s the way the players look at it and go into each game thinking they’re going to win. I think Alabama has a good shot at winning this year. Everybody seems to think that there’s no way to stop Cam Newton and Auburn. I think everybody can be stopped. But I would think the edge would go to Alabama, especially being at home. We’ve played really well all year at home.