A few more news-type things from the Auburn and SEC beats to follow up on this a.m.’s Plainslinks …
— I’ll make it short and sweet: I don’t care who may or may not decide to recognize Auburn as the 2004 national champions, because our administration (rightly) isn’t going to claim it. I’m personally tired of hearing about it, though I’m glad it’s making headlines all the same: every reminder the state gets about that team, the better. (Of course.)
— This Phillip Marshall piece on Antoine Carter is on the cotton-candy fluff side–“As an Auburn defensive end, he learned early about hard work, about putting team before oneself, about patience and overcoming adversity”–but it’s some delicious cotton candy fluff, particularly the season-can’t-get-here-fast-enough quotes from Sgt. Michael Carter, Antoine’s dad, who’s traveled to see Auburn games he knew ahead of time his son wouldn’t even be fit to be play in.
Antoine also drops an intriguing bit of news: Dee Ford is up to 250 pounds already. If he’s managed that without losing too much of his first step off the line, look out.
— Speaking of P-Marsh, he thinks the ‘Bama-Florida “dynasty” talk is overblown:
At various times over the past decade, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Florida and Alabama all could claim to be the dominant program in the SEC. Go a couple of years further back and you can add Tennessee to the list.
I mean, going into the 2006 season, Auburn had won 15 of 16 SEC games, losing only to LSU in overtime when John Vaughn missed five field goals. And in 2006, the Tigers went 11-2.
So what is different now? Why the dynasty talk when it hasn’t been there when other teams were on top?
The difference is that Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have been given bigger-than-life status on a national level, starting with the talking heads at ESPN and CBS.
Um … well … I agree that Saban and Meyer have received some awfully favorable treatment from the media. But I think the much bigger factor in the “dynasty” talk is that the Tide and Gators have met in two straight SEC championship games, winning their four combined division titles by 1, 3, 3, and 4 (!) games; that the Tide has won a completely unprecedented (in the BCS era) 24 consecutive regular season games as an SEC member; that over the past two years the two teams have won as many national titles as they’ve recorded total losses to all other teams, a combined record, if you’re wondering, of 40-2.
Of course I think the 2004 Tigers would match up against any of these teams of recent Tide and Gator vintage, and of course the overall run under Tubby from 2004 through 2006 was incredible and remains underappreciated, and of course I have to wonder how different things might have been if J**n V****n hadn’t melted down in Death Valley that night. But to say that run (which yielded just the one trip to Atlanta and featured truly hideous losses to Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Georgia)–or any stretch put together by any SEC team since these same damn two teams were pulling this crap in the early ’90s–stacks up to what they’re doing now isn’t giving them their proper (if grudging) respect. No, the cult of personality surrounding Saban and Meyer sure doesn’t put a damper on anything, but the reason there’s dynasty talk now is they deserve it, because no one’s even come close to them for two years. Until that changes, that’s the story of the SEC at the moment, hard as it might be for Tigers (of both stripes) and Dawgs to take.
— So, Ray Cotton has walked away from Ole Miss, possibly opening the door to Jeremiah Masoli to finally bring the nickname “the Flyin’ Hawaiian” to the SEC. Red Cup Rebellion has the Ole Miss take; it’s pretty much what you’d expect on both the Cotton (BOO) and Masoli (YAY) fronts. As for me …
1. Not that I want to say anything bad about the kid, and of course here’s to hoping he has a great go of it at South. But this is two different SEC programs now where Cotton’s been in position to become the anointed quarterbacking savior of the future, and he’s walked away from both. He could have been the starter this year at Auburn, possibly. He could have been the starter, or at least a major threat to come off the bench, this year at Ole Miss. Instead he’ll be at a fledgling I-AA program. It’s just … peculiar.
2. It’d be fun having a pinball wizard like Masoli around in the SEC West, but even if he decides to play on his own dime, I can’t see him making that big of a difference in the Rebels’ fortunes this year. At Oregon, Masoli was playing in a system perfectly tailored to his skill-set, coached by one of the best quarterbacking and offensive minds in the game in Chip Kelly, and even then he could be “erratic” at best; in four games against non-Pac-10 competition last year he posted a 0-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio, fell short of the 6 yards per-attempt mark three times, and failed to pass for more than 163 yards in any of the four. Nutt’s had some success with run-first, run-second quarterbacks with questionable off-field priorities before …
… but talented as he is, I seriously doubt Masoli can adapt quickly enough to be more than, say, the conference’s best Wildcat specialist.
— Interesting comments from Paul Rhoads at Big 12 Media Days, namely, that the tackling from the players Chizik left behind was “horrible” and had to be retaught to avoid “tackling air like a cartoon character.” Hmmmmm. But Rhoads himself (to his credit) mentions that there’s simply different philosophies out there regarding tackling–yes, even something as mundane as tackling–and Evan Woodbery explains with the help of Craig Stevens that Rhoads’ ideas on it weren’t exactly welcomed with totally open arms when he showed up at Auburn.
Me, I doubt pretty seriously that guys with as much success as Chizik and Roof are teaching techniques that are going to be in any way fundamentally inferior to Rhoads’.
— Sounds like Tubby’s found his career a little second wind, so to speak, from his move out to Lubbock. Either that, or Big 12 recruiters are lazier than I think any of us would have imagined.
— Robbie Caldwell may not be quite the aw-shucks pushover his SEC Media Days performance portrayed him to be, not if his first move as head coach–hiring Herb Hand away from Tulsa–is any indication. Frankly, this is a move that Bobby Johnson should have made himself a year ago; if you’re going to try and run a Tulsa offense, why not hire a Tulsa coach? (By the way, remember when Tulsa head coach Todd Graham negotiated an extension with Rice while making plans to jump ship to the Golden Hurricane, and bolted the very day after he’d signed his new contract? Yeah, maybe it’s not a surprise his assistants–five of whom have bailed on him in this one offseason–don’t seem to value loyalty all that much.)
— Andrew Gribble profiles Ryan Shoemaker. Nothing particularly new, I don’t think, but once we hit late July, you get what you get.