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Notes from the Beat, 11/18

Dammit, Eric.
Dammit, Eric.

Hey, you know what’s great for a football team’s focus as they prepare for their showdown with their undefeated, top(ish)-ranked bitter rivals? Lawsuits! Lawsuits that allege that multiple players from the football team in question were involved in the crime! Lawsuits that make those players out to be a big bag of prize, grade-A Jerk! Lawsuits that will probably re-open questions we’d hoped had been put away for good about Eric Smith’s punishment and his role on the team! Hooray! (You can read the lawsuit in its entirety at Jay G. Tate’s place; I stuck with the abridged version.)

My thoughts:

— Uh … if the attorneys filing the suit don’t know the difference between “gate” and “gait,” felt it necessary to describe the victim as lying “unconscious in a pool of blood” (um … right), and–surprise!–wound up on Schmineschmaum in the time to takes to heat up a Hot Pocket, you’ll forgive me if I’m not assigning them a ton of credibility. There’s no getting around the fact that Smith, you know, committeda violent  assault, but I’m hardly going to take the “three Auburn football players started beating up two guys in a bar for no reason whatsoever” narrative at face value, thanks.

— Yes, assuming there were two other Auburn football players involved in the incident, that’s a problem. One Auburn football player out at a bar at that time of night in the middle of the week is bad enough. Three? Bleah.

— That said, seeing as how we’re still just talking about one player getting arrested and one flimsy-sounding suit, we’re stil a long, long way way from having any kind of program-wide, institutional problem. Yeah, the suit does nothing to quiet the whispers from Tide country that Smith got off easy just missing one game, but we’re still a couple more arrests away from “That’s just Tennessee” status. (As for whether Smith got off easy: eh, if he’d missed another game or even two that would have been fine, but he was clean off the team for more than two weeks and Chizik knows a little more in this situation than we do. Whatever.)

— Bottom line: as much as you can bring the suit’s account into question, its timing, the lawyers’ motives, the victim’s motives, whatever, the simple fact is that if Eric Smith doesn’t knock Decari Jenkins out with a punch from behind outside a bar in the middle of the night, we’re not having this conversation. When you screw up this badly–or, from the Auburn perspective, one of you players screws up this badly–these are the consequences.

Honors. You’ve probably noticed by now, but Demond Washington was named the SEC special teams player of the week for being ridiculously awesome. I would say “Finally, our long national nightmare at returner is over” … but of course there’s only one game left. Better late than never, but … it’s late.

Secondly, this is old cheese, but I haven’t recognized Wes Byrum’s ascension to the list of Lou Groza semifinalists in this space, and I should, because Byrum has been specfreakingtacular this season.

Stuff. Highlights from Gene Chizik’s Sunday presser and assorted follow-up notes, courtesy of Andy Bitter:

— No word on The Toro’s status for the Iron Bowl, though maybe it’s a little more encouraging it’s an ankle problem rather than a concussion? As per usual with the Chiznick, we’ll likely found out when the team takes the field for warm-ups and not a moment before.

— Chizik wants to find at least one and maybe two offensive tackles that can enroll in January, preferably (it sounds to me) in JUCO. One name you might not have heard of before here: Roszell Gayden.

— Not that I’d expect him to say anything different, but Tommy Trott’s optimistic take on Auburn’s future was still pretty nice to hear.

Other sports. Again, I’m a litle late to this, but the soccer team lost a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker to Cal in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, ending their season at 10-9-3. The AUfficial site has a nice season wrap here.

Elsewhere, the swim teams are both ranked top-seven to start the season, the women’s hoops team has had five players sign LOIs for what has been rated as high as the 13th-rated class in the country, and Felix Kiboiywo won a regional cross-country time for the third straight time.

Etc. Phillip Marshall breaks down Auburn’s defensive troubles. (Spoiler: Ted Roof’s not the issue).

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