Gratitude. Thanksgiving is still a couple months away, but I’m getting a head-start this year by expressing my beyond-sincere thanks that those in charge of the SEC’s 1992 expansion had the common sense God gave the humble sea urchin. You wouldn’t think “OK, we’re going to keep Auburn and Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU/Mississippi St., Florida and Georgia, and Tennessee and Vandy/Kentucky all in their same divisions, then preserve as many cross-divisional rivalries as we can” would be so brilliant a plan that it could never be replicated again, but here we are.
Big 12: “No, we don’t have to make sure Oklahoma and Nebraska play every season or anything. It’s not like that rivalry means all that much. The Huskers will be perfectly happy without it.”
ACC: “Of course we’re going to split up Miami and Florida St. into separate divisions with no ties whatsoever to geography or rivalry or anything other than a ‘Canes-‘Noles title game rematch. No, it won’t matter that even the most diehard of college football fans won’t be able to keep the names of the divisions or which team is in which straight. Interest will be through the roof regardless!”
And now, the Big Ten: “Splitting up Michigan and Ohio St. into separate divisions and having them play midseason in the 1-in-15 chance they’ll meet in the title game is a no-brainer! No, it doesn’t matter it’s the only annual Big Ten game the rest of the country recognizes as truly important and that by explicitly labeling it as the preliminary, practice-type meeting before the hopefully real showdown at year’s end we’ll ruin what made it special in the first place! This is a great idea!”
So assuming you’re like me, Auburn fans*, and the idea of not playing Georgia or playing Alabama in October with a chance of playing them again in December makes you break out into hives, and not just the normal hives but hives that sing Ke$ha songs at you when you try to take a nap, take a moment to express some thanks. It could be us, you know.
(One other point: my gast is somewhat flabbered that Orspencerson Shwallindle has felt the need to twice talk down to the Wolverine and Buckeye fans up in arms over this, first by telling them they should quit caring about the things they care about, then today suggesting that the problem is that Big Ten fans are too slavish to tradition … despite the fact I’m sure USC-UCLA fans, Pitt-West Virginia fans, Oklahoma-Oklahoma St. fans, Ole Miss-MSU fans, etc. would all be pretty damn pissed if they were in the current M-OSU boat. And as for the first point, it seems odd for the same writer who introduces us to FIREHORSE over a comparatively minor rule change to tell two other fanbases to chill out over the disruption of a season-long buildup they’ve spent 80 years developing, no? It feels like being told by a baseball fan to quit watching soccer because it’s boring. I *heart* Orson like everyone else, but he’s way off on this. Then again, Tennessee fans seem to feel the same way; maybe it’s just the lack of a historical all-or-nothing rival in the season-ender that’s talking?)
OK, that’s a lot of discussion for that issue, so we’ll take the rest of the links in rapid-fire style:
— The odds you haven’t seen Chad Gibbs’ “The SEC’s Aughts as according to Facebook” post by now are pretty much zero, I know. But if you’ve just gottne back from a trip to the Costa Rican jungle or something …
— Linked this yesterday in the OL preview, but Andy Bitter’s breakdown of Auburn’s 2009 penalties is well worth your time. Most notable: Auburn’s defense yielded 30 automatic first-down penalties. Penalty yardage doesn’t actually matter as much as you might think, but handing away that many free first downs? Oh yeah, that matters.
— A second interesting TSK link, this time on why college rushing attacks can still flourish while the NFL’s grind to a halt.
— Interesting tidbit from P-Marsh:
What do Samford coach Pat Sullivan, UAB coach Neil Callaway, West Alabama coach Bobby Wallace, Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe and Troy coach Larry Blakeney have in common? They all coached on Pat Dye’s Auburn staff.
— The Auburn Arena appears set to open with a game against UNC-Asheville. Eh, at least it’ll be a victory. I can’t work up any more disappointment for the basketball team at the moment.
— I couldn’t care less about the FWAA’s decision to just vacate their 2004 title by this point, I really couldn’t. But if other team’s fans–even ones that hate Auburn–want to stump for us, hey, more power to ’em.
— I suppose someone had to do the “countdown with pictures and descriptions of a player that wears that jersey number” for Auburn, and Joe Auburn is that someone this year. Elsewhere in the blAUgosphere, Acid previews Alabama and predicts an instant classic. Oh, and Will is the first out of the gates with a new roundtable feature at al.com myself and Kenny Smith will also be participating in.
— Lastly, you’ve got this post at And the Valley Shook which notes that LSU actually did more improving in the win column than either Auburn or Arkansas did in 2009 and asks why AU and UA are “on the rise” while LSU is seen as on the decline. “I’m not saying that trends will determine this season … but if someone is giving how the team is trending as a reason to pick against LSU and pick Auburn and Arkansas… then they must be looking at different trends than I am,” Poseur writes.
So, yeah, the trend I’m looking at, at least where Auburn is concerned: LSU’s per-game yardage margin in SEC play has gone from +81.0 to -3.7 to -33.4. Their per-play yardage margin has gone +1.4 to +.4 each of the last two seasons. Auburn got worse from 2007 to 2008, of course, but last year went from -48.9 to +6.9 per SEC game, and -.4 to +.9 per-play. I think that’s trend enough; after all, Auburn fans should know.
*The SBNation Michigan blogger claimed in the MGoBlog comments that he’d talked to Auburn fans who didn’t care if the Iron Bowl was moved or not. Which, wha? But maybe I’m in a secret minority–out of curiosity, what are you guys’ thoughts on a hypothetical move-to-midseason for the Iron Bowl?