He wants you! (In Auburn Arena)
We have been tough on Jay Jacobs over the years. I have been tough on Jay Jacobs over they years. The Gene Chizik hire was one of the worst in Auburn history.
In hindsight, Tony Barbee and John Pawloski were pretty lousy hires, too. But at the time, those seemed like pretty good pick ups. Both had big success at mid major programs. Both were up and comers.
Both failed miserably.
Jacobs finally has come in to his own as an athletic director. He hired the best coach in the country in football in Gus Malzahn. All Gus did in year one was take a mentally whipped football team and turned them into an SEC champ seemingly overnight.
Sonny Galloway has changed the culture of baseball pretty quickly at Auburn. He inherited a bunch of prima donnas whom needed to be whipped into shape. After a rocky start, Auburn is on the cusp of the top 25 with a 15-7 record, having, at this point, played the toughest schedule in the SEC.
March 18th trumps both of those previous hires(yes,even Gus Malzahn).
Bruce Pearl is one of the top 5 basketball coaches in the country. He is right up there with Coach K, Jimmy Boeheim, and Tom Izzo. He will bring instant credibility to the program. He is a fantastic recruiter. His brand of basketball is exciting and up tempo. He is also a showman. Last night's welcome reception is a prime example.
For the first time in over a decade, I am excited about Auburn basketball again. Not since Mamadou, Smith, Doc, CP, and Scotty have I been so excited. I was a student then, when the old Beard-Eaves was filled to the brim with over 10,0000 to see Auburn destroy Arkansas, Florida, and Alabama.
I expect that again very soon.
Pearl revamped Tennessee in one season. UT went 14-17 the year prior to Pearl's arrival and lost their leading scorer to graduation. Sound familiar? We may not make the NCAA tournament in year one, but we will be competitive. I can promise you that much.
Look for an instant rivalry with Kentucky as well. It is pretty well known that Bruce Pearl and Calipari hate each other, dating back to the UT-Memphis days. Throw in some added hatred that Cal will have for AU since they fired his protege. Also don't be surprised if Barbee winds up an assistant at UK in the next year or two.
Auburn is the hot school right now in college sports. Jay Jacobs, for all of his face-planting failure over the first few years in the A.D.'s chair, deserves credit for making the biggest splash we have ever seen in college basketball.
Now we can be excited about Auburn basketball again. We can even dream of an SEC championship and the big dance. Hopefully very soon.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Monday, January 6, 2014
Let me first say for the record, I am utterly shocked that I am writing a preview for the National Championship game. Back in August, I was thinking Outback Bowl or Chick Fil A would be a huge step for this program.
We ended last season in the doldrums. Forget that, worse than doldrums. Auburn was the lower 9th Ward post Katrina. We, I, thought that the damage done by the end of the Chizik administration would not be reversed for at least three years.
Enter Gus Malzahn. He was the architect behind the 2010 National Title. He was the one who went to Gene Chizik after the 2010 Clemson game and told him to turn Cam loose. Gus is a star. Gus is changing college football. Think I'm wrong? Did you happen to catch Oklahoma go hurry up several times in the Sugar Bowl? By the end of the game Bammers were so frustrated that Bammer moms were diving from the upper deck onto to Sooner fans.
Malzahn does not like being called a genius, but in terms of college football, he is Einstein. He is Copernicus. He is Sir Isaac Newton.
College football is forever changed by one season with Gus Malzahn as a head coach. His offense has turned college football on its ear.
Whether you call this a team of destiny or a team of density (I miss the Joe Cribbs Car Wash) this is the most amazing Auburn football team we have ever seen.
Our old friend Rob calls this Buster Douglas vs Iron Mike Tyson (I miss Rob on this blog). He is not far off. Again we see very few people outside of the Loveliest Village that give Auburn a shot. We have read this novel before. First back in October at College Station. Later with back to back road trips to Fayetteville and Knoxville. Then at home against Georgia. Then two weeks later against the mighty Tide. Finally in Atlanta against Missouri. Auburn has been counted out time and again. Time and again Auburn has proven pundits to be wrong.
Auburn will win tomorrow. Florida State hasn't seen the likes of us. They have made a living off of the Wake Forests and Syracuses of the ACC world. Auburn has wins against the crème of the SEC. Florida State biggest win came against a team that lost by 14 points to an SEC East also-ran.
Still, Auburn is currently a 10 point dog. Will Vegas ever learn?
Auburn will win tomorrow. Florida State will not be able to handle Tre and Nick. Sammie and C.J. Dee Ford will solidify his NFL stock. Carl Lawson will become a household name.
Auburn may be a team of destiny. They are most definitely a team of density. They are everything that is Auburn. They are the eternal underdog. They are college football's forgotten.
This team is the reason why I love sports. They are the Boston Red Sox to the Crimson Tide's Yankees. They do the impossible. They win when no rational person gives them a chance.
Auburn will win.
One more guys, come on.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Auburn will play a total stranger for the SEC championship tomorrow.
Raise your hand if you thought Auburn would be playing for an SEC Championship at the beginning of the 2013 season. If you put your hand up, you're either a delusional optimist or a liar.
Missouri is in a similar boat as Auburn. They won 5 games last season, with only 1 SEC win in 2012 over a hapless Tennessee. If you are having a hard time gauging how good the Tigers really are, let me clear it up for ya, the Missouri Tigers are 11-1. Their resume is every bit as impressive as Auburn's.
A look into those wins is telling. They beat Georgia on the road after only a week after the Dogs were decimated with injuries. They manhandled Florida in a similar fashion. The dominated scrappy Vanderbilt on the road, as well as Tennessee at home. I for one was shocked at the relative ease in which they took care of Ole Miss in Oxford. And to finish it off they bested Johnny Football last week at home.
The only loss came in overtime to South Carolina. Missou led that game by 17 points, before Conner Shaw entered and led the Gamecocks to an amazing 4th quarter comeback.
So make no mistake, these guys we will line up against are good. The have a senior quarterback who has giants to throw to. The have a salty front four which is likely as good or better than the group Auburn beat last Saturday. They can score points and play defense.
What I am saying is Auburn better bring there A game to this one. And that has me concerned a little bit.
For the whole week Auburn has been the media darling (Pete Thamel excluded). While Auburn made every national news show replaying the miraculous finish in the Iron Bowl and national pundits debated if Auburn should jump unbeaten Ohio State, Missouri sat brooding in Columbia waiting for their own opportunity. My guess is they feel a little under-appreciated.
They will be looking to show the whole college football world they are every bit as deserving as Auburn as to being in the discussion for a national title.
In other words, get ready for another war.
I still think Auburn's run game is good enough to get it done. When we do pass, protecting against that very good defensive line will be a chore.
Defensively Auburn has to contain Franklin and stop the run game of Missouri. The secondary must be ready for a battle with big athletic receivers. Green-Beckham is the best pro prospect at receiver since Larry Fitzgerald.
And if and when we win this game, Auburn will be in the discussion for the BCS title, though I doubt it happens unless Ohio State loses (which is a distinct possibility). At this point, you just have to hope Auburn wins the SEC and let the chips fall where they may.
Here's hoping for one more week of magic in 2013.
School where all the sleazy sports Jornalists come from 35
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Chris Davis was an afterthought in the recruiting process in 2010. He was a three star "athlete". Chris is one of those diamonds in the rough that former Auburn coach Phillip Lolley finds from time to time. He hails from Woodlawn, a forgotten burrough of Birmingham. Their little town there doesn't have much. They share a football stadium with half a dozen other Birmingham schools on the east side of town.
From that little neighborhood to Auburn and Tuscaloosa, and everywhere else in the world of college football, Chris Davis's name is now legend. You will never forget where you were that night. I won't. My ticket stub from section 42 will be framed soon.
I try not to get too emotionally invested these days. I like to write about it, for sure. But 2011 and 2012 soured me. Not that I am a fairweather fan or anything, but the relentless dogging of Auburn football by the Thayer Evans and Selena Roberts of the world made me feel like I couldn't even enjoy Auburn's prosperity. That and Danny Sheridan's imaginary bagman.
Then there is the indisputable fact that Auburn will break your heart. She's broken mine more times than I can count. But I found myself misty eyed after the Marshall to Coates TD. I found tears rolling down my cheeks when I looked out onto Jordan Hare to see a sea of orange and blue clad fans storm the field after Chris Davis became a legend. It was one of those moments in sports that we long for that almost never happen.
And then it happened. And it is seared into your memory forever. And you are emotionally invested again. Just like that she has pulled you back in.
The game was everything a sports fan could ever want in terms of high drama. Alabama punched and punched and knocked Auburn down. Time and time again Auburn got back up.
Then the drive to tie the game. A drive with all running plays, save one. Marshall is not a passer. Surely that is what two Bama defensive backs must have thought as a wobbly pass found its way between them into the waiting arms of Sammie Coates. Sammy turned and ran with nothing but green grass ahead. At that moment I knew we would win. These guys are magic.
But I figured, like the rest of the 87,000 and changed inside Jordan-hare, that we would win in overtime. Auburn had solved the riddle of Alabama's defense, and they would have to go into the extra frame without a placekicker they trusted. I liked our chances to be sure.
But overtime never came, and for a brief moment when the review booth gave the Tide just one more second, I thought our hearts would be broken again. One second was all they needed to do something. One second.
That one second on the clock allowed Nick Saban to run out a placekicker that had not seen the field in the Iron Bowl. He would try a field goal of 57 yards. Oh Nick, pride and arrogance is a weakness. You learned that Saturday night. A guy who is arrogant enough to go for it on fourth and 1 instead of kicking a chip shot field goal to go up ten is surely arrogant enough to think his freshman kicker can make a 57 yarder.
As that one second ticked to 0:00 the ball fluttered short and to the right. Chris Davis was waiting.
Before the kick a lady behind me, probably in her 60's asked what number 11 was doing standing in the endzone. I leaned back and said he can return it like a kickoff if it is short.
Chris started right then veered left. And a wall formed. And no one in white was even close. Alabama's holder made an attempt to reach him at the 45, but instead of preventing history, history ran right by.
Chris ran right to us is section 42. He was mauled by teammates right in front of us. Two arms wrapped around my neck and that 60 something year old woman was kissing me on the cheek, right where that tear was rolling down. I guess I had answered her question.
It was bedlam in the stadium. I've never been in a mosh pit but I would imagine that is what it would be like. Then the fireworks. Then I said to the guy next to me "Boy there's a lot of media on the field."
"Are you crazy man? Those are students. Get your phone out and take pictures!!"
I got my phone out and did a video. Then my battery died. Then I stood and watched. For several minutes I stood there and watched. I could not (and still cannot) comprehend what I saw.
What crazy wonderful drug had I been given? It was euphoric. It was unreal.
It was 2013 Auburn football. And I will never forget it.
Friday, November 29, 2013
The eyes of the nation will be on Jordan Hare in less than 24 hours. Most of those, I would argue a vast majority, will be pulling hard for the orange and blue.
The nation is sick of Bama. Tired of Nick Saban and his condescending tongue-lashings. Sick of what even the man's wife says are spoiled rotten fans.
Yes. Forget about the Cowboys, Auburn is America's team this weekend. No one wants to see the evil empire play for a third straight national title. No one wants to see that forced evil smile on Nick Saban's face holding up another crystal football. No one wants to hear Brent Musberger verbally undress AJ McCarron's girlfriend on live TV.
The time has come for the the Tide to lose. Democrat or Republican, Red State, Blue state, it does not matter. They all say War eagle this weekend.
How does Auburn do it? The same formula holds true. Run the damn ball. Play action. Trick em. Out flank em. Be fast. Hit hard. The stadium will be jacked...and loud.
Oh will it be loud.
Defensively, Auburn must get to McCarron. Hit him. Rattle the cockiness right out of him. Dee Ford needs to know what his brand of cologne is by the time this thing is over.
Hit Yeldon. Hit him hard. Make him rue the day he flipped his commitment two years ago. Stir it up. Play with swagger. Bama does not believe Auburn is back. We have had to hear it on talk radio for two weeks. Serve. Them. Notice.
They will know quickly come tomorrow, that we are back.
It might have happened in the blink of an eye, but here we are. The Tide has to go through Auburn now to get to Atlanta. In our house. They are nervous as hell about November 30th at 2:30 PM, take that to the bank.
Win this game. Defy all odds. Defy every football pundit.
Win for Auburn. The nation is behind you.
War Eagle forever.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Iron Bowl week is upon us, and my oh my, how crazy a week it will be. And after a weekend where Baylor goes down in a flaming heap and Oregon loses big, the stage is set for a BCS championship elimination game...maybe.
Alabama can punch a ticket to a 3rd straight title game with a win over Auburn and a surprisingly stout Missouri, though neither is predestined. Auburn will most likely need some help to get there. Even with a win over Alabama and Missouri, Auburn will still need either Ohio State or Florida State to lose to get in to the national championship game.
The fact that I wrote that last paragraph at all tells you that win or lose come Saturday, Auburn has risen meteorically from the depths of despair in 2012.
The job Gus Malzahn and his staff have done since taking over the reigns last January has been simply astounding. In just a few short months, the attitude and psyche changed 180 degrees. WE figured he would have an easier time of it since he recruited most of these players. But 10-1 going into the Iron Bowl? I would've told you I had a better chance of walking on the moon.
No doubt, this weekend will be crazy. I will be down there in Auburn, tickets in hand to witness what will hopefully be one of those amazing Auburn Iron Bowl wins like 1989 or 1993. I am giddy.
Preview coming later this week. And if you are in Birmingham, just turn off the sports talk radio full of Bammer homers.