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Plainslinks points the finger backwards

tubby time
Back in the spotlight! Sort of. Hypothetically. Hypothetically sort of.

Tubby time. The name of Auburn’s most recently deposed head football coach is suddenly surfacing up in all kinds of venues and contexts, though I can’t say Tubby’s probably too happy about it being on the lips of Auburn fans, seeing as how it’s probably there in an effort to curse the hell out of it.  Will explains:

Almost exactly eleven years ago, Auburn fandom watched in shock as Terry Bowden up and split halfway through a disastrous season. At that time, the fan base itself was split, divided between those who’d had enough of Bowden’s antics and those who thought he’d been unfairly pushed out by the “power brokers.” But roughly a year after that, the number of Terry’s defenders dropped away precipitously as it became painfully clear just how bare the cupboard had become in the latter years of his tenure. The then-new Tuberville staff wasn’t free of blame for the mid-season losing streak of 1999 (playing not to lose cost them close games against both Mississippis, for instance), but it was clear from early October that they were dealing from a very limited deck.

Watching Auburn’s defense trying in vain to bottle up Kentucky’s running game on Saturday night was probably enough to remove any lingering nostalgia for the Tommy Tuberville era among Auburn fans. While Gene Chizik and Ted Roof will and should share some of the blame for the current mess on the field, neither can do anything about the two or three years of lackadaisical recruiting that brought us to this point. It’s hard to locate even half a dozen starters who’d make the two-deep on any SEC defense this side of Nashville, and I’m sorry to say that Tuberville’s legendary laziness is largely to blame.

That’s the calmer, more rational side of things, but Auburn bloggers can do viscerally angry, too, as the newly- (temporarily-) renamed Lifetime of Defeats demonstrates. (I’m on board with either approach, since, yes, Tubby’s recruiting his final 3-4 years at the Auburn helm–and his reliance on non-qualifiers in particular–was demonstrably damaging to the program.)

It’s not just embittered Auburn folk that are talking about Tubs, though–his name has been linked to Mark Richt’s in all kinds of ways recently, often in the popular “look what Richt is turning into” fashion but also as a possible replacement for UGa DC Willie “Fired Man Coaching” Martinez.

Since I can’t see a man as prideful as Tubby accepting anything less than a head coaching position, though, I think deducing his choice of future employer means looking at schools that might be in the market for a new head man this winter. Like Louisville, says Orson, who he notes could use a pitchman of Tubby’s quality in addition to a fine football coach. But as for the smart money

Coming into the day, the only team I suspected of having possibly given up on the season was Illinois, which sealed its fate as the worst team in the Big Ten with a double-digit loss at Indiana. That’s a bad loss, an inexcusable loss for Illinois fans, but at least the Illini were somewhat competitive. If any team had a reason to quit, it was Colorado after its season-opening embarrassments against Colorado State and Toledo, and the Buffs have responded by giving West Virginia and Texas tough games on the road and coming home to stun undefeated Kansas tonight in Boulder.

Texas A&M, on the other hand, could not have conceivably engaged in such a comedy of errors with anything like a normal effort. A bad team may lose to Arkansas by four touchdowns; it may even lose by three touchdowns to Baylor after the Bears took their foot off the gas. But it takes genuine apathy to fall more than eight touchdowns behind to Kansas State in a little more than two quarters. “Incompetence” doesn’t quite cover that situation, just like “patience” doesn’t quite cover A&M’s policy toward coach Mike Sherman if he survives the rest of his second season.

That’s the usually reserved Matt Hinton at Dr. Saturday, and when even he would agree two years is already enough evidence to try and convict the Sherman era, there’s a good chance the Aggie powers-that-be are busy concurring right now. Sherman’s surprisingly stout recruiting might save him, but otherwise, expect Tubby to be in College Station by this time next year.

Sports that are not football. Sure, the losses of Vot Barber, ‘Sheem Barrett, and Tez Robertson sting a bit, but with Auburn finally seeming to find its identity under Jeff Lebo last year and a senior backcourt to fall back on, I’m sure the men’s hoops team is going to find its share of preseason love, right?

Uh, no:

Despite finishing last year strong and nearly making the NCAA tournament, Auburn’s men’s basketball team was picked to finish last in the SEC West by the media, the conference announced Monday …

Here’s the [abbreviated] voting:

WEST DIVISION

  1. Mississippi State (22) 144
  2. Ole Miss (2) 120
  3. Alabama 84
  4. LSU (1) 70
  5. Arkansas 63
  6. Auburn 44

Well, I don’t think motivation’s going to be much of a problem. On the positive side, DeWayne Reed was named second-team All-SEC. Jay G. Tate wrote up a nice preview of the team last Friday I suggest you take a look at–we’ll write more as tip-off draws closer, but if Knox and the JUCOs can get their jobs done, Auburn’ll be OK. I think.

Elsewhere, the Auburn volleyball team closed within a game of .500 in the SEC and notched their highest win total since 2006 with a 3-1 victory over South Carolina … and there’s still the bulk of the SEC schedule to play. Wade Benson (the head coach) is doing an outstanding job here. The annual Pack the Act game is set for this Friday against–guess who–Alabama. Be there, or lose.

Things aren’t quite as rosy for the Auburn soccer team–they fell at home to one-win Kentucky over the weekend and stand at 7th in the SEC.

BlAUgosphere. It hasn’t the most pleasant few days in the world of the Auburn Internets, as you might expect, though the Auburner’s doing its part to keep things sane. Or, possibly, the opposite of sane. I’m not sure. Elsewhere:

— Getting back to Will’s post, his assertion that Arkansas and Kentucky knew what was coming from Dr. Gustav’s Spread Eagle is about as worrying as you can get. We’ll see what happens this week.

Fields of Donahue asks for Auburn fans to “give it time,” a sentiment I heartily endorse.

— At Track ‘Em, Jay’s calling this the “Great Collapse of 2009”, though I think we have to wait at least another week before assuming we’re headed into 6-6hood. Acid’s weekly report card is as much fun as you’d expect it to be.

— I’m also not nearly so down on the team or coaches as Rob Pate and Dr. Z seem to be at Eyes on Auburn, but it’s kind of nice to have some reinforcement on what I’ve been saying all season long re: the play of (bright, hard-working, good teammate and student) Adam Herring. Z has a theory on why Herring’s seeing so much time I can’t entirely discount.

— Joe Auburn is recovering from a Kool-Aid hangover in rational fashion.

— On the brighter side, J.D. has a useful history lesson about what can happen when lightly-regarded Auburn teams travel to Baton Rouge to take on non-vintage standard LSU teams.

— And lastly, at LODJRS has some sweet costume suggestions for Auburn fans looking to dress up for the Ole Miss game. (Also, he’s responsible for my favorite Tweet of the week.)

Just so you know. Auburn fans obviously can’t say a word about Alabama’s “struggles” to put away South Carolina–struggles we would clearly kill to have–but I do think it’s worth noting, just so we’re all well-informed football fans, that RollBamaRoll saw Greg McElroy’s performance Saturday night as “ungodly terrible.”

Etc. Auburn’s off to the Liberty or Music City, ESPN predicts; that’s kind of generous of them, really … “The only a-hole who fist pumps while he wears a t-shirt of himself fist-pumping” … Nothing earth-shattering, but I enjoyed Tony Barnhart’s take on the SEC’s officiating problems all the same … Via RBR, a cool study at Wired that shows that struggling field goal kickers aren’t lying when they say the goal posts look smaller.

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