Plainslinks isn’t saying a word about conference expansion

The World’s Most Awesome Venn Diagram doesn’t have anything to do with college football expansion madness. Which is why I’m putting it at the top of this post. I just spent all afternoon filtering through my reader, backed-up by days of vacation and World Cup-fueled neglect, and it meant scrolling past thousands–not an exaggeration–of stories and posts on conference expansion. Most of which, by the end of the hullaballoo, meant less than nothing thanks to the relatively minor changes.

So: I’m not talking about conference expansion today. I’m posting platypi with keytars instead. I’m sure you understand.

Newsbeat. Those damn Joneses have something Auburn football doesn’t, and you can expect the Auburn trustees to keep up with them at their meeting tomorrow. That something is a potentially-expedited full-size indoor practice facility:

If this passes, Auburn will be the seventh team in the SEC to have [one]. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky and LSU are the others. Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have similar, undersized buildings like Auburn. Florida and Vanderbilt don’t have one, though I’m certain if the weather were worse in Florida, the Gators would have two by now.

Though I’m usually a little leery of huge football-based expenditures, that the old facility should find plenty of use by the other sports on campus while the football team’s busy in the new one–plus the fact that this is clearly the direction in which programs not located in Florida are headed–means I’m firmly on board.

Elsewhere, Zac Etheridge is doing all he can to hear good news when he learns (soon) if he’ll play football again; prized Georgia offensive lineman Watts Dantzler is technically choosing between Auburn and Georgia this Sunday, but given that he’s (sweetly) chosen Father’s Day to honor his deceased father who played at Georgia, it’ll be a major, major shock if he picks the Tigers over the Dawgs; and away from the football field, the Auburn volleyball team is winning on its trip to Italy. I have no clue how difficult the competition is or how encouraging that is, but it’s better than the alternative.

Besuboru! There’s still several developments worth following with the Auburn baseball team, too. For instance, Hunter Morris has been named a first-team All-American and Brian Fletcher a second-team All-American. Not a surprise given that Auburn will finish the season as the NCAA leader in home runs (both per-game and total) and slugging percentage. Also not a surprise: Morris already has in pro contract in hand and will start at Class A ball in the Milwaukee organization.

Of course, that’s all so last year. It’s more exciting to start thinking about next year, and that’s where PPL comes in. First, a handful of players from the deeper reaches of the roster appear to no longer be with the team. But Kevin has a lot more than that: a player-by-player rundown of who’s likely to go pro and who’s not; a look-ahead to the 2011 Auburn pitching staff; a projected 2011 starting lineup.

All in all, the sense I get is that Auburn is losing a lot … but that they could be losing even more. Hopefully the inevitable step back will be only a slight one.

Ray Melick. Remember him? He’s now–get this–a public spokesman for BP. From newspaper to BP public relations–Melick’s career seems kind of cursed, doesn’t it? Will Collier has the line of the week:

Really, it wasn’t that much of a career change for old Ray.  One on the one hand, you’ve got a steady gig as an apologist and booster for an oily, dishonest and generally disreputable megalomaniac… and on the other, you get to be the mouthpiece for BP.

Oh, ZING.

BlAUgosphere. Two excellent links from Track ‘Em:

1. Acid’s preview of the UL-Monroe Warhawks is up and is chockful of the usual dropped knowledge.

2. Aubtigerman’s story of Reita Clanton, a pre-varsity women’s athletics Auburn graduate who would go on to play in multiple Olympics Games for the U.S. team handball team. Now she’s been duly inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Awesome stuff.

Elsewhere, here at TWER Ben’s got some thoughts on the occasional awkward encounters (and difference in roles) between Auburn students and Auburn glamour student-athletes and Jeremy finds a telegram from the Barfields. Also, it’s not the blAUgosphere, but friend-of-the-blog Doug Gillett Astronaut Mike Dexter is back at HeyJennySlater.

Etc. It’s too early to start breaking out the farewells and tissues just yet, but as we approach this college football season, don’t forget that it’s Ron Franklin’s last (via) … Phil Steele projects Auburn as the No. 15 most-improved defense in points allowed per-game. Please be right, Phil.

Oh, all right, one word about conference expansion. It comes from a Fanpost at Red Cup Rebellion. Yeah, it’s a little over-the-top in its SEC rah-rah, but … that SEC rah-rah is why the SEC never needed to expand in the first place.

(OK, a second word: with Jerry Jones squawking about getting the old SWC back together, I’ve seen a ton of SEC fans suggest that the league would be better off if Arkansas bolted or had never been invited. [One example. There's others.] Why? Not inviting Arkansas means we never see Darren McFadden in the SEC, never watch Matt Jones run the option, never claim the Hogs’ mid-’90s national championship in basketball, never get the classics between the Hogs and LSU in the Battle for the Boot [and remember, LSU needs the rivals]. Even after the national-title glow faded, Arkansas has been well above-average in SEC hoops; they’ve been to Atlanta just as many times as Auburn and three times more than Ole Miss or Miss. St.; their baseball program is one of the best in the league. Away from the field, the Houston Nutt saga shows just how in line with the rest of the league [i.e. "bonkers"] the Hog fans are. What else do people want from them?)

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