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Plainslinks solves equations

As an aside: how are we going to see the logo on the seats when they're completely sold out?

Question answered. Ever since Courtney Denson signed to give Auburn 14 basketball players and 13 basketball scholarships, your humble Auburn blogger has been wondering how Tony Barbee was going to make–or (hopefully) more accurately, had already made–13+1 = 13. Over the weekend, we found out:

Power forward Heath Houston, a former Auburn signee, was released from his scholarship and has signed with Virginia Commonwealth.

VCU announced his signing Saturday in a release …

The size of the class meant Auburn was expected to part ways with at least one incoming or current player in order to pare down the roster. Prior to Houston’s departure, Auburn was slated to have one more player than scholarship available.

Given that exact dilemma, we don’t know if Houston asked for his release to go to VCU or Barbee offered the release up front as a way of getting down to 13. If it’s the former, hey, great, best of luck to Houston and hopefully we’ll see you in the NCAAs sometime; if it’s the latter, and Houston would have enrolled at Auburn if not for the fact that Barbee decided he just had to sign a point guard, that’s the opposite of great.

The truth, as per usual in matters like these, is probably somewhere in the middle; Houston may have been having second thoughts about Auburn and Barbee, Barbee might have known that and planned accordingly. I doubt this all came about without the two of them talking things over. (The proof will probably be in the pudding of whether the three remaining unenrolled Auburn signees–Shawn Kemp Jr., Adrian Forbes, and Luke Cothron–make it to campus or not. If they do, the teeter-totter tilts towards Barbee having to make room. If one or more don’t, it’ll look like Houston made the decision himself, since Barbee likely has a good read on where his signees’ academics stand and wouldn’t have left a scholarship empty.) But given that just asking the question makes me itchy all over, let’s agree, Mr. Barbee, that this is the last time we have to ask it, hmm? (Readers: I promise I’m letting this drop now.)

Barbee did make an appearance on a conference-sponsored teleconference, but this particular topic wasn’t discussed. (Which, whatever. No one would expect it to be.) Probably the biggest piece of news is that it sounds like Cothron will be making the grade:

Barbee sounded very excited to get Cothron on the court. “I think Luke brings a different level of talent that this program hasn’t seen in a long time. One of those 6-8, 6-9 hybrid forwards that can score from different angles of the perimeter. He can go out to the 3-point line, is great around the basket. He’s got great feet and great hands and has a knack for rebounding. So there’s no question he’ll bring a lot to the team as a freshman.”

Other notes worth noting: he loves Frankie Sullivan (who doesn’t?), he admits the team may be “offensively-challenged,” and is OK with a lot of threes as long as “you make some of them.” Ay ,that’s the rub.

Newsbeat. A few other links from around the Auburn Interwebs:

— Andrew Gribble does yeoman’s work in recapping the entire Auburn athletic year, sport-by-sport, complete with all 19 varsity programs ranked by their accomplishments. Not much to quibble with in Gribble’s assessments, though I do think the quantum leap forward from the volleyball team could have drawn more praise.

— We’re all excited about what the Auburn Arena means for the hoops teams, but it’s worth remembering that they’re not the only programs that will benefit; the gymnastics team will also be performing in a better venue than nearly any of their peers, and now will get to host a Regional that might help boost them to the NCAA finals in 2012. Sweet. The NCAA also announced that Auburn will host the 2010 women’s swimming and diving national titles.

— Trucking company executive Hugh Nall was dropped from Chaz Ramsey’s damages lawsuit against Nall and trainer Arnold Gamber following his career-ending back injury. With Nall and Ramsey both long gone from Auburn’s football program and the University not involved in the case I’m not sure this still really qualifies as Auburn news, but it’s the offseason, so here you go.

This is where my Dad always said “tough noogies.” The Bylaw Blog says that while the facilities and recruiting arms races get all the headlines, a new compliance arms race could be just as important:

Any time athletic directors or coaches see the words “investment” and competitive advantage” near each other, the possibility of an arms race breaking out becomes very real. The recruiting arms race is well known. Less well known is the academics arms race that is currently going on, where large BCS programs are throwing millions into student-athlete academic centers, computer labs, tutors, and advisors, all in order to avoid APR penalties.

The possibility of a compliance arms race starting is not some fantasy for compliance officers wanting more help and more money. Just like I said above, large compliance staffs can help the competitiveness of an athletic department. More prospects get eligibility, riskier activities can be approved, and coaches are better educated on what they can’t but more importantly what they can do.

The problem with a compliance arms race runs deeper than with the massive amounts spent on weight rooms and practice facilities. Sure, schools feel the pressure to keep up with the Jones in the recruiting arms race. But if every BCS schools has 10 or 12 compliance personnel, there’s the possibility that the minimum standard, rather than just the state of the art is raised.

My thoughts are these: if you can’t afford to play by D-I’s rules, if you can’t afford help your D-I athletes get the education that amounts to the only form of payment they get for working 40-plus hours a week in the service of the university, then you can’t afford D-I. Either play the game right or get out of the game entirely. (HT: RBR.)

Update BZZRRRRPP. Nevermind about that whole vuvuzela worry thing: since everybody’s favorite/least favorite plastic instrument isn’t a traditional SEC noisemaker a la the MSU cowbell, they won’t be allowed inside SEC stadia after all. I’m hoping they’ll find a home at NBA games instead; annoying as they may be, they’re the height of authentic crowd noise compared to pumped-in pop songs, the PA screaming “MAKE SOME NOISE,” ThunderStix, etc.

Etc. Tubby’s efforts to turn Texas Tech into something that is not Texas Tech continue with all possible haste (via) … John Calipari: the successful version of Lane Kiffin … Dude, new Catlab … If it’s World Cup time, you know it’s also time for a round of “soccer sucks” pieces. Obviously I disagree, but if you’re on that side of the fence and want yours with an Auburn tinge, War Eagle Atlanta and Grotus have you covered.

Photo by Van Emst.

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