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Notes from the Beat, 7/20

Hell yeah this is an All-SEC first-teamer.

The good news on Zac Etheridge is clearly the big headline of the day, but there’s lots more out there on the Auburn beat today:

— Six Tigers made the coaches’ preseason All-SEC team: Ziemba and Bynes on the first unit, Stevens, Pugh, Adams, and Thorpe on the second. I’m with Jay Tate that most of those selections make sense (in fact, I think Bynes first-team and Stevens second is an accurate assessment), but there are a couple of gripes:

1. Wes Byrum? Not even second team? After hitting 15-of-16 and every extra point he attempted? C’mon.

2. I guess he didn’t have enough production last year to warrant selection, but if there’s five defensive linemen on that second team, they’re going to regret not making Antoine Carter or Nick Fairley one of them.

3. Ditto Mario Fannin.

— Yeoman’s work from Andy Bitter in setting up a fan-driven Q&A with Jay Jacobs, then publishing the full transcript, which you should definitely read all of even if it takes longer than the typical Bill Simmons column. Topics covered include non-conference football scheduling, retiring Tray Rocker’s number, J-Hare expansion, possible new varsity programs, and more. Most of Jacobs’ responses were nicely-constructed boilerplate, but it was intriguing to hear him say he wouldn’t rule out a long-term nonconference series at a neutral site a la Arkansas vs. Texas A&M in Arlington. It’s a shame all the natural candidates for something like that–Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida St.–already have yearly series established with other SEC programs.

— More Q&A, this time at the AUfficial site, this time with Tony Barbee. (Who, speaking of, might have had something to say about one of Jacobs’ responses in the previous Q&A.) Most interesting is his take on the incoming class:

“I’m excited about the incoming freshmen. I think anytime you get the chance to make some changes once you take over, to bring in players that you believe can fit within what you are trying to do. I think all of those guys … you look at Josh Langford with what he’ll bring coming from a winning program and what he brings from his experience being Mr. Basketball in the state. Josh brings us a lot of versatility. He can play anywhere along the perimeter or along the frontline with his skill set. Allen Payne is very similar to Josh, a 6-foot-7 versatile player that can play inside and can play outside because of his length. Adrian Forbes is an athletic interior player who will bring us some toughness and some rebounding along the frontline. Chris Denson will add much needed depth in the backcourt. Size-wise with Luke Cothran and Shawn Kemp along the frontline will bring us some depth and size that we don’t necessarily have. So, we were able to get those two and bring them into the fold.”

It probably doesn’t mean a thing, but doesn’t he seem far more fired up about Langford than Cothron*? Despite the fact that Langford is supposed to be the pretty nice player and Cothron the total stud? It’s probably nothing.

— It’s awesome that Auburn finished third in the SEC in the number of freshman athletes on the Freshman Academic Honor Roll. It’s less awesome that only one of those athletes–Phil Lutzenkirchen–was a football player. To pick a non-arbitrary example as a contrast, Alabama led the league with 12. Hopefully this will be one of those things that changes as Chizik and Co. can afford to be more selective with their recruiting. But Auburn can do better.

— Elsewhere, Auburn’s Fan Day is set and Bitter wraps up his look at Auburn’s “most integral” players with No. 1 Lee Ziemba. No argument there.

*Yes, I believe the AUfficial site misspelled Cothron‘s name in the excerpt. Sigh.

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