There’s trolling your rival, and then there’s the Auburn digital team, which has taken the concept of trolling to the next level.
For fun, go to the official Auburn athletics site. Now try and find a broken link (which is extremely hard to do, by the way). If you find one, there will be a headline at the top of the 404 page that reads ‘Hold On One Second,’ followed by this message:
“We’re sorry but the page you’re looking for doesn’t appear to exist. Don't worry, we'll put one second back on the clock and you can continue with the links below. War Eagle!”
For those who live outside the state of Alabama or who don't remember the reference, it’s alluding to the 2013 Iron Bowl when Nick Saban challenged a play at the end of the game to try and get one second back on the clock. His plan was to then kick a field goal, but that plan backfired. Chris Davis returned the field goal 109 yards, and Auburn won the game.
Forrest Buckner, a recent Auburn graduate who had just begun working with the athletic department's digital media team, was at the game. He remembers the play, and he knew then it was the perfect moment to try and capitalize on.
A few months later, Buckner and his boss, Jason Matheson, noticed that the 404 page on Auburn's athletics website had not been updated since the new redesign launched in 2013.
“I was like ‘you know, it would be funny if we could kind of do something a little creative here,’” Buckner said. “I thought what if we did like ‘hold on a second’ because it was still very fresh in our minds. So Jason and I kind of brainstormed, and Jason designed it out and put it up.”
The only problem? Nobody saw it, not for a very long time.
“I guess we just do a good job and we don’t have any broken links,” Buckner joked.
Finally, this past Friday one of the writers for AuburnTigers.com tweeted a link that was broken, and it directed his followers to the 404 page. It didn’t take long before people started noticing the handiwork courtesy of Buckner and Matheson.
“I sent [Matheson] the link and I said ‘they found it,'" Buckner said. "He was like ‘yeah, it only took over a year.’ But it took off. It had the effect that we wanted it to, got all kinds of attention and got the rivals stirred up a little bit, too. It was good.”
This isn’t the first time the Auburn digital team has had a little fun with the play that has since become known as the “Kick Six.” The pregame hype videos from last year featured not just the replay but also a countdown to one second. And it was no coincidence that when the first rendering of the new scoreboard came out, there was an image of Chris Davis returning the kick.
When the 404 page was finally discovered Friday, Buckner admits that he was wondering if anybody was going to come by his office. No one did.
“It’s one of those things that’s all fun,” he said. “It’s just about the rivalry. I’m sure Alabama will have a few here and there. We just go back-and-forth, and if that’s how we can add to the rivalry in a fun way, we’re all for it.”
The Iron Bowl, there’s nothing quite like it.