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Plainslinks suddenly hates fighting roosters

HUN-ter MOR-ris! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap) HUN-ter MOR-ris! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)

Prepare yourself. We’re about 28 hours fr0m Auburn taking on Jacksonville St. at Plainsman Park in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament. So it’s awfully nice timing to hear good news like this:

Injured Auburn outfielders Brian Fletcher and Trent Mummey are nearing a return, just in time for the Tigers’ NCAA regional opener against Jacksonville State on Friday.

“I think both of those guys have progressed pretty well,” Auburn coach John Pawlowski said Wednesday afternoon … “I would hope both of them would be in the lineup tomorrow.”

EX-cellent. For your previewing needs, there’s two quality options: one is this set of capsules by Justin Hokanson at Rivals. If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth, PPL‘s got you as covered as you’d expect, with Primers on Jax State, Clemson, and Southern Miss, and a bunch more content besides.

It’s been a while, Auburn fans. Enjoy this.

Newsbits. A couple of football tidbits worth passing on:

— We’ve got a kickoff time and TV info for the Clemson game: 6 p.m. central, ESPN. I’d have been surprised if the game hadn’t have landed on either ESPN or “the Deuce”, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.

— Jay Tate caught up with Gene Chizik at the SEC meetings in Sandestin. He didn’t say much, but we do know that Zac Etheridge will undergo a major evaluation in July. Hopefully we’ll get a better read then on when he’s going to be able to return … and how panicky we really need to be about the safeties.

Newton for Heisman? No less an “authority” than HeismanPundit thinks it’s not out of the question:

In a year without a cut-and-dried preseason Heisman favorite, Newton has to be considered as a possible dark horse candidate if his development in Auburn’s offense goes smoothly.

(Via.) Well … if you multiply Malzahn’s previous QB production by Newton’s raw talent, you really should see some incredible numbers. And apparently Phil Steele isn’t ruling it out either. (Though since he’s also not ruling it out for Jordan Jefferson …) But I’m not holding my breath.

One other Newton link to pass along, even if I’m waaaaaay late on it: this well-done Andy Staples story on Newton’s journey to Auburn. You’ve probably read it already, but if not, there’s some new details about Newton’s infamous laptop purchase and his extremely business-oriented approach to his recruitment. To be honest, it’s a hair unsettling to read about how our quarterbacking savior picked Auburn not for its family atmosphere or friendly coaches or the general awesomeness of the Plains but just because it offers the best opportunity to combine big numbers and winning games … but I know good and well that as soon as Newton starts wrecking fools this fall, I’m not going to give the first crap.

Expectationswatch. I’m not the only one a little more bullish on Auburn than hype-magnet Arkansas this summer, as it turns out … given that Vegas’s odds like the Tigers better than the Hogs both in terms of their chances to win the West and the SEC overall. In fact, Auburn’s got the second-best odds in the West behind Mississippi St. I mean, Alabama. Alabama’s got the best odds. Only the Tide and the Gators are better bets to win the conference, in fact.

So in one corner we’ve got Bruce Feldman. On the other, Vegas and Steele. Guess who’s side I’m glad Auburn’s on?

TWER. Good stuff of late you might have missed: a podcast catching up with Thom Gossom; Takeo Spikes has a tumblr; ‘50s nostalgia hits ’70s Auburn. Enjoy.

Etc. Did you know: only three BCS-conference teams in the country have gone longer without a loss to a non-BCS team than Auburn has. Florida, Florida St., and Ohio St. are the teams in question … P-Marsh remembers the swing that sent Auburn to the 1997 College World Series. A nice little post that’s well worth a read … WEA ranks the SEC’s nonconference schedules, with Auburn justifiably coming in eighth. Why we couldn’t have opened with some lower-rung BCS opponent like a Kansas St. or Washington St. is beyond me … Good work, WGN … and as my buddies at but oh, is it good put it,”every single person should aspire to be exactly like the drummer in this video at all times”:

Photo by Van Emst.

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