HAAAAATE. We all probably know an Auburn fan or two who grew up in some random part of SEC country and saves the bile and mouth-foaming fmosto f us hoard for the Iron Bowl for some other weeks of the season. This is a natural rule of geography, and it applies in full to Tennessee-raised TWER columnist Ben Bartley. Boy, does it apply:
In 1998, my parents along with 10-year-old me moved north to Tennessee. Whoo-wee. I was just in time for Terry Bowden’s departure and the zenith of modern Tennessee football — the 1998 undefeated national championship. That was fun for a 10-year-old overly zealous kid whose whole world revolved around Auburn football. Good thing I’m not bitter.
So this game is more than just Auburn’s first SEC road game. It is a chance for me, the doe-eyed 10-year-old still within, to dance on Tennessee’s grave. To return past insults a hundredfold. To fiddle as Neyland burns and Lane Kiffin’s eyeless corpse is paraded through Market Square. I get to yell and mock and basically act the fool for one day. It is glorious.
You know what’s awesome? Even Smokey’s agreeing with Ben these days:
Click that link. It’s awesome.
Well, that makes sense. Turns out Antoine Carter had a pretty good excuse for not being on the depth chart when the season started: he’d torn his freaking meniscus:
Carter said he torn the meniscus in his right knee and the subsequent surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews on April 7 was unconventional. Rather than just clean out the knee arthroscopically, Carter said anchors were inserted to hold the cartilage in place.“You’ve got to give the anchors time to heal,” he said. “They’re deep down in there now.”He jokingly referred to his knee as “Ol’ Sparky” and said he hopes to be more confident maneuvering on the knee than he was in his first game back.
The main news here is that Carter’s back and his absence was not, in fact, in any way off-the-field related, but I have to ask … what on earth was gained by Chizik not telling the public that Carter had a serious injury? When Carter doesn’t show up on the season’s first depth chart and Chizik dodges questions about why, isn’t it natural for fans to assume something dodgy is going on? Isn’t that kind of a disservice to Carter? And in exchange, Auburn got the advantage of, I don’t know, Ball St. not knowing exactly where Carter might be physically weak for his 10 snaps in the fourth quarter of a blowout. Generally, I’m OK with (if not a fan of) Chizik’s need-to-know-basis policies, but this time, I just don’t see any positives that outweigh the negatives.
More. The other big piece of news from yesterday’s Chizik press conference: Byron Isom is currently practicing. And he is serving a suspension of indefinite length which may end at kickoff Saturday or may not. See, this is where I don’t blame Chizik at all for being tight-lipped: if you don’t have to tell Tennessee whether Isom or one of his backups will be on the field, why would you? (The guess here: with Chizik confirming Isom is practicing–which the suspended Eric Smith did not–I wager he plays.)
Elsewhere, McCalebb is the latest Tiger to get a shot at fielding punts (though I can’t imagine he’ll have the job this week), Coleman doesn’t like playing with a cast and sounds even more frustrated with giving up 30 to BSU, Chizik wants Bates to settle down, the offense says it won’t have a problem with the noise (we’ll see), and Auburn’s actually going to play a day game for the first time this season when they go to Fayetteville.
Oh, and thought it’s not breaking-news-right-now-related, it doesn’t sound like Trooper Taylor’s all that anxious to get out of town, does it? (HT to Bitter.) Speaking of Taylor, an ex-Vol, yeah, he’s fired up.
The Vols have been doing it with defense, the Tigers with offense. And so once more, two programs on similar paths will collide on Saturday night. The winner gains more instant credibility, while the loser will face more questions about their ability to succeed. Chizik couldn’t have asked for a better start on the field, while Kiffin has put the Vols on the same level between their performance between the lines and his actions behind the microphone and on the recruiting trail. (Emphasis added–ed.)
As I said to a local Vol columnist the other day: Kiffin’s “actions behind the microphone” and a loss in which the Vols spent all of one possession in the second half even within a single score of their opponent is not enough evidence to declare Kiffin Chizik’s current equal when his two wins to-date are over Western Kentucky and Ohio. Yes, his recruiting is going very, very well. Yes, if he wins Saturday, I’ll gladly concede the point. But until then, Vol fans are getting a good bit ahead of themselves.
Elsewhere in the Tennessee blogosphere, there’s a couple of previews up: one stats-heavy from RTT’s Joel, one a little more from the gut from 3SiB. I’ll let you guess which one’s conclusions I’m more in agreement with.
BlAUgosphere. In the Auburn-centric parts of the Internet, the Auburner has pinned down Trooper Taylor’s secret identity in the usual wonderful fashion. Joe Auburn reviews the Ball St. game. And here at TWER, Thor Burk recaps the weekend of our former Tigers in the NFL.
Nice things. I’ve linked to Ball St. blog OverThePylon a bunch over the past week-and-a-half, but I have to get one more in: Alan came down to check out the game in person and he recaps his Auburn experience here. This is going to shock you, I know, but he has nothing but good things to say about the trip. Check it out.
Good move. You’ve probably heard by now that Tennessee has canceled Auburn’s Tiger Walk outside of Neyland. You can get one reaction from Jonesy, but mine would be to note the extreme two-fold irony that’s been pointed out to me:
1. Tennessee’s “Vol Walk” will proceed as planned, meaning that the Vols will have stolen Auburn’s idea, then turned around and forbidden Auburn to do it themselves. (For the record, everyone can have their own “Walk.” That I’m fine with. The other part? Not so much.)
2. The official reason for the cancellation is “security reasons.” Of course, now there’s all kinds of talk amongst Auburn fans about pulling off an impromptu, unsanctioned Tiger Walk that will be 10 times more chaotic, confrontational, and generally un-secure than the official one would have ever been.
So, yeah, this was a great move on someone’s part.
Etc. Pat Sullivan should be in commercials … Chris Todd, still lighting up the stats world … if there’s one thing I can appreciate about coachbots, it’s that they can’t help themsevles from speaking in actual football terms from time-to-time. That much is refreshing, I have to say … Football Outsiders loves them some Gus Malzahn (via) … and the mid-major hoops fan in me has to point out that calling the Binghamton hoops team a zoo is an insult to zoos.