Achievement unlocked. As Jay Tate points out, Auburn fans have been talking about a possible full-size indoor football practice facility for eons. But finally, the time for talking is done. Bring on the time for fund-raising!:
“We appreciate the vision and leadership of Dr. Gogue and the Trustees in approving the multipurpose indoor practice facility,” Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said. “The indoor facility is yet another brick in the foundation we are building for Auburn football and other sports that will train there. This facility will be financed entirely by private funds that we intend to raise, so the support of the Auburn Family will be critical as we press ahead…”
Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik said the project would be a major boost for the football program as well as other sports …
“This is a huge step forward for our football facilities, and we are pleased that it will also benefit other sports at Auburn as well … Thanks to the vision Jay has for the athletic department and the support of Dr. Gogue and the Trustees, Auburn’s facilities are in great shape and are only getting better, which is important for our recruits and for our fans.”
In that order? (As an aside, does anyone else wish that just for funsies, Jacobs and the administration had played this up as a brand-new soccer facility that just happened to be 100 yards-plus-end-zones long? With quotes from Karen Hoppa about how happy she was that the facility would be used for sports other than soccer? No? It’s just me? OK.)
I could rhapsodize about the impact of the facility on Auburn’s practice habits or ability to recruit, but I think the real story here is that once again, Jay Jacobs has gotten something important–and something difficult, judging by how long it was in coming–accomplished. You can quibble with some of Jacobs’s decisions around the edges of his tenure, but I don’t think there’s any arguing that the overall direction of the athletic department under his tenure has been inexorably forward.
More info on the new facility here.
Straight shootin’. So it’s turned out Auburn’s not the only coaching staff willing to come up with outside-the-box recruiting strategies with (theoretically) snazzy, headline-friendly names; this year, Georgia is pitching its in-state recruits a place on the “Dream Team,” the class that’s going to restore Georgia to their place atop the recruiting charts and, theoretically, the SEC.
Your thoughts, Rivals top-20 defensive end Ray Drew?
“Georgia has a dream in recruiting, but it may not be my dream, too,” said Thomas County Central defensive tackle Ray Drew, who is considering the Bulldogs among his 27 scholarship offers.
“I’m not saying that for people to read too much into it, either way. It’s just that the dream of [Carver-Columbus tailback] Isaiah Crowell may be different than Georgia’s dream, or the same thing with Valdosta [tight end] Jay Rome.
“What I’m saying is that, in the end, I have to do what’s best for me and my family, like every recruit. If I sign with Georgia, it would be because it was the best fit for me … and not to be part of the ‘Dream Team.’”
Ouch. Big Cat Weekend, it’s not. But I wouldn’t cackle too loudly, Auburn fans:
The “Dream Team” concept is nothing new in recruiting, where every school tries to develop an innovative sales pitch. Drew has heard most of them during his travels.
“Auburn talks about family, that’s what they use to try to get their players,” he said. “With Florida, they have a pretty good record at home. They talked about ‘Protect this house, protect this house.’ Everybody has their own little slogan that they try to sell you on.”
The knee-jerk reaction here is Hey! It’s not just a slogan! It’s a way of life at Auburn! But of course, to some extent, yeah: every team has somethign to sell, and family is what Auburn’s selling. Just because it’s a more genuine sales pitch (and one less cheesy than the “Dream Team” by a factor of gazillion) doesn’t mean it’s not still, at some level, a sales pitch. Nothing against Drew for spelling that out.
While we’re discussing Georgia recruiting, OL Watts Dantzler chose the Dawgs as expected. That Auburn even made as much of an impression as they did with a Georgia legacy like Dantzler–Dantzler said he visited Auburn six times–is fairly impressive.
Go Zac go. Andrew Gribble has a must-read on Zac Etheridge’s progress from the neck injury that I think a lot of us figured would end his career:
Every day since Oct. 31, 2009, when Etheridge tore numerous neck ligaments and cracked his C5 vertebrae after jarring his helmet into teammate Antonio Coleman’s shoulder pad, has been equally and vitally crucial toward getting Etheridge to this point. The next 30 or so, though, will probably feel like the longest for Etheridge, who will find out July 20 if he is clear to play his senior season.
His mother, Cassandra Kelly, said Etheridge’s path back to the field is “in God’s hands now.”
Etheridge has done everything he can to make sure there’s “no gray area” when he goes through that thorough examination, which will include a number of range-of-motion tests. Etheridge will also don a helmet and shoulder pads for the first time since they were carved off him after the scary collision.
“No one has said ‘no’ yet,” Etheridge said. “It healed so fast and so perfect, so it’s like unbelievable. It’s so healed.”
Once he was cleared to resume his normal, everyday activities, Etheridge devoted all his focus to his lower body, which understandably lost strength after an elongated amount of inactivity …
“It’s not where I want it to be because I’ve been out a long time, but, shoot, I’m lifting just as much as guys that have been working out through the season without injuries,” Etheridge said. “I’m satisfied with my strength and everything, but I want to get a lot more stronger.”
On the one hand, the expression of Etheridge’s hope in the article is so intense it’s scary to think how difficult it’s goign to be for him if he’s not cleared. On the other, the article also makes clear how bright Etheridge’s future is regardless of whether he can play football or not; between his desire to become a coach, his football intelligence, and his determination, he’s going to be fine even if his neck isn’t.
Elsewhere on the Auburn beat, Trent Mummey has signed with the Baltimore Orioles.
Auburn is awesome. For a lot of reasons. But as Jeremy explained here at TWER, one of those is that it’s the alma mater of a badass like Howard Hill:
“Ol’ One Shot” not only doubled for Erroll Flynn in all of his quill-packing movies – including, yes, The Adventures of Robin Hood – he was the go-to bowman for virtually every archery scene in virtually every Hollywood film made from the late 1930s into the 1950s.
Why? Because he won 196 archery field tournaments in a row. No typo. By most reports, he actually did made the most iconic archery shot of all-time: Robin Hood splitting a bulls-eye arrow with another bulls-eye arrow – something not even Mythbusters could replicate.
These are the sorts of men who play football at Auburn, folks. Respect.