Memories, meaning of Iron Bowl

— -- The Iron Bowl is like no other rivalry in sports. From Bear Bryant to Bo Jackson to Harvey Updyke, there's simply nothing that compares to Alabama vs. Auburn. It has turned players such as Van Tiffin and Chris Davis into legends. It's where the term "house divided" originated. It's on the minds of the coaches, players and fans 365 days a year.

If you haven't been a part of it, it's hard to understand. But to help with that, here's a look at the Iron Bowl rivalry from those closest to it:

Jay Jacobs, athletics director, Auburn

On the significance of the Iron Bowl: "It's a rivalry that is different than anything else because we all live together. Some rivalries are divided by borders, but this one has no borders. You're living with each other year round after that game. When you win that game, you have a little bit more pride and when you lose it, the other team has a little bit more pride."

Shaun Alexander, former Alabama running back

On his first Iron Bowl: "You could tell that it mattered, that it mattered more than anything else. You were like 'wow.' This is not the Super Bowl, this is not the SEC championship game, but this game matters. Of course, football matters. You're at Alabama for a little bit and you realize every game you've got to win it all. But there's just a little something extra. Everybody's going to hit a little bit harder. Everybody's going to play a little bit harder and give a little bit more of their self. And that's from the players on the field to the fans and how they cheer and how they watch the game. Everybody's going to be a little bit more into it. The game is just special because of that. No matter who you are, when you're into this thing and you pick your side, then you care. That was just special all the way around."

Nick Saban, head coach, Alabama

On what the rivalry means: "I think the Iron Bowl is such a big rivalry because of the passion that our fans and their fans have for football and for SEC football. It's not something that you really see. It's something that you actually feel because of the relationships that you have with people, and people on the other side, the relationships that they have, and how important this game really is to the state of Alabama."

Robert Bentley, governor of Alabama

On his favorite Iron Bowl memory: "I have seen every Iron Bowl since 1971, either in person or on TV. Most I have seen in person. 1971 was significant because I had just returned home from the military. I remember some very significant games, I remember the 1985 Van Tiffin kick and the 1972 game where Alabama was ahead 16-3 and Auburn blocked two kicks and ran them back for a final score of 17-16. I recall the '89 Iron Bowl when Alabama went to Auburn for the first time and played in Jordan-Hare Stadium, and I also remember the first time Alabama beat Auburn in Auburn in 1999. The 2000 Iron Bowl was significant because this was their first time playing in Tuscaloosa at Bryant-Denny. It was really cold and Alabama lost, 9-0."

Kris Frost, linebacker, Auburn

On his first taste of the rivalry: "The first time I stepped on campus, you hear people say, 'Beat Bama.' I had really not experienced that before. Then the first time I walked into the defensive meeting room and saw the big 'Beat Bama' sign in the back of that room, I feel like that's when it really started to hit me. The first time I walked out into Jordan-Hare, we were playing Alabama when I was redshirting, and I got to dress out that game. Just seeing the intensity and how crazy that game was, it was really, really impactful on me. It really just shows you the pageantry of college football and the rivalry that we have."

Melissa Bonner, assistant GM of Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Tuscaloosa

On Iron Bowl weekend: "We get crazy crowds. On a Friday, it starts about 2 o'clock that afternoon and it goes all the way until about 10 o'clock that night. And then on Saturday, it starts about 8 o'clock in the morning. When I say the crowds are crazy, I mean we have a line outside the door. They'll be waiting to come up in here. We probably go through about 1,300 ribs that weekend."

Gus Malzahn, head coach, Auburn

On his "welcome to the Iron Bowl" moment: "When I was a coordinator, you'd hear about the Iron Bowl and everything that goes with it, but until you experience it, you really don't understand it. The fact that I got a chance to do that three times as a coordinator, it definitely helped prepare me as a head coach."

Cadillac Williams, former Auburn running back

On favorite Iron Bowl memory: "Honestly, not only is it my favorite Iron Bowl memory, but it's one of my favorite moments, one of my biggest football highlights of my career. My junior year in 2003 we played Alabama. On the first play of the game, I ran 80 yards for a touchdown, and I have to say the electricity, the feeling that was running through my body, during that is something I have never felt before. That's like my all-time favorite moment, not only in the Alabama-Auburn game, but my whole football career."

Nick Perry, defensive back, Alabama

On playing in the Iron Bowl: "It's big. I'm from Prattville, [Alabama,] so that's always the biggest game of the year. It's bragging rights in the state. It doesn't matter what part of Alabama you're from, it's going to be Auburn or it's going to be Alabama. Usually, whoever wins that game, they have bragging rights for 365 days. It makes the other team or the other fans' lives miserable for a whole year."

Rod Bramblett, radio voice for Auburn

Barrett Jones, former Alabama offensive lineman

On what the Iron Bowl means: "It means a lot. I remember every single one of those. When I came to Alabama, I didn't fully understand the rivalry. I grew up an Alabama fan, but I lived in Memphis. I understood that we were supposed to root against Auburn, but then I got there and got immersed in the culture, and that's when I kind of started to figure out exactly what it all meant and the significance of it. You catch on quick, just the meaning of the game and how much it means to the fans and the students and everybody involved. It really is a weird thing. You just kind of learn to really, really dislike orange and blue. It just kind of happens. It's hard to explain exactly how it happens, but it's that way for everybody that goes there pretty much."

Kayla Perry, Auburn student with cancer who befriended Blake Sims

On the significance of the Iron Bowl: "My family is split straight down the middle, Auburn and Alabama, because my grandmother went to Alabama and her two sons went to Auburn. And so my whole family gets together every year to watch the game even though we are on opposite teams. It's always been this tradition of family, it's when we celebrate Thanksgiving, and so we're always doubling that up. Instead of it separating people, to me it's always brought people together because that's my memory of it."

Rhett Lashlee, offensive coordinator, Auburn

On his favorite Iron Bowl memory: "I'm fortunate to have been in three really good Iron Bowls. The first one was '09 when we weren't near as good as them and we had them beat and they scored with about two minutes to go here at Auburn. They beat us 26-21. That was a great game. That was my first experience, and I realized at that point there was something really different about that game -- just the electricity and the atmosphere. It's just like it would be a national championship or an SEC championship game. It's just really hard to fathom unless you've seen it and been there. I've been in three intense and unique-ending Iron Bowls. I can't say one stands out other than I really like the two we won a lot more than the one we didn't."

Josh Niblett, Hoover (Ala.) High School football coach

On watching the Iron Bowl: "I played at Alabama, so I was involved in it from a personal standpoint for four years. It's wild. Everybody wants to talk about a lot of rivalries, and I'm more partial because I was in it and I grew up around it, but when you grow up, you're either Auburn or you're Alabama. You weren't, 'Hey, I may be one or I may be the other,' or switch the year after. You pick your side. I've got kids that play at Alabama. I've got kids that play at Auburn. This year, I've got one that's committed to Alabama and one that's committed to Auburn. My biggest thing is I just love watching our kids have a chance to be successful. But from playing in it to then having kids play in it, I wish everybody could get to experience that week."

Eli Gold, radio voice for Alabama

On the passion in the state of Alabama: "It's impossible to describe, especially for people who don't live here. What you have to stress, and I do this all the time in interviews. If I'm being interviewed by a guy in Detroit, I point out to him that we don't have the Tigers, we don't have the Red Wings, we don't have the Lions, we don't have the Pistons. We've got Alabama and Auburn. When I talk to people from Texas, we don't have the Cowboys and the Rangers and Astros and the Mavericks and the Stars and this and that. Alabama and Auburn are the two major franchises. Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn are the manager of the Yankees and the manager of the Dodgers. It is the attention-getter. You can ring up Brent Musburger's neighbor in Montana and say, 'What's the Iron Bowl?' He'll know. He might not know the players, he might not know the storylines, but he'll know, 'Oh yeah, that's that Alabama-Auburn game.' The largesse of that event transcends the bounds of this state and is known all over this nation because every year, that is our Game 7 and there's no other way to describe it."