AAARRRGGGHHH. One of the more frustrating things about re–watching the Outback Bowl this week was remembering how terribly, terribly fond the 2009 Tigers could be of just, dude, unloading on their own feet via penalty. Two celebration penalties. A stupid tripping foul. Unnecessary roughness that was, truly, unnecessary. An easily-avoided pass interference. In the end, 12 flags for 140 freaking yards.
So, yeah, it’s not surprising when you check out this rundown from Chris Low* of which SEC teams suffered the biggest disparity in penalty yardage–yards against minus yards against opponents–that Auburn comes in dead last. Not only that, Auburn was last by a staggering, forehead-slapping amount: the gap between Auburn and No. 11 Georgia was wider than the Dawgs and the No. 1 team in the league.**
Clearly, improvement is needed. But just as clearly, I think a margin of that kind of statistically-bonkers size also has to be just good old bad luck. Things should get better this year. They can’t get worse. (It should also help that Malzahn’s hyperdrive won’t be quite so new and frightening.)
Read this. It’s a story on Travante Stallworth and his father, a sergeant major who’s being deployed to the Middle East for the fourth time in a 24-year military career. Here’s wishing them both the very best of luck.
Expectationswatch rolls on. ESPN’s first edition of their site-wide Power Rankings is up, and it follows the template set by the Coaches’ Poll; Auburn and Georgia tucked away at the bottom of the poll (Nos. 22 and 24, respectively), Arkansas and LSU a few notches higher in the “holy cow, the next-best SEC teams are this low?” positions (17 and 19, respectively). As you’ve probably gathered by now, I think those two pairs of teams should probably be reversed … but it’s nice to see the WWL stay away from the Auburn “bandwagon.”
That said, those opinions aren’t unanimous across the site; Low’s most recent set of SEC Power Rankings has Auburn in fifth, but behind Georgia and Arkansas.
Previewin’. I’ve been remiss in not already pointing you towards Paul Myerberg’s entry on Auburn in his preview countdown of all Division 1. Auburn checks in at No. 26. (And while I’m here, a quick thanks to Myerberg for his compliment of WBE.)
If you’d rather get your college football projectin’ on in audio form, my friends at Oh Brother Radio spoke to Cole Cubelic on today’s podcast for a quick series of 2010 predictions. The excitement in Cubelic’s voice as he starts discussing Newton’s potential under Malzahn and how well the schedule sets up … well, that’s the excitement we’re all feeling these days, isn’t it?
Krootin’. With Marcus Roberson still declaring Auburn his leader but not pulling the trigger just yet, there hasn’t been much going on since the Garrett-Rose-Uzomah commitment flurry, really. Probably the biggest news is that the weird Auburn vs. Michigan recruiting “rivalry” (I’m exaggerating, but still) that began with Travante Stallworth back in ’09 and continued through the recruitment this cycle with players like Kiehl Frazier and Valdez Showers is coming to a head with Kris Frost and Dee Hart.
You may recall the latter recently dropping Auburn off his list for a top two of the Wolverines and Tide, but after talking with Auburn’s coaches and clearing up a misunderstanding (ahem) about the state of our current running back recruiting, Auburn’s back on the guest list (via). Hart’s even scheduled for a visit to the Plains at the end of the month.
Still, I like Auburn’s chances much better with Frost, who declared Michigan and Auburn his top two this week. He’s already visited a number of times and has already planned a whole series of additional visits for this fall; as much as he seems to like both Auburn and Chizik and Co., I’m hopeful the Tigers can close the deal sometime down the stretch. Hart will be a much tougher nut to crack; the folks I know in Ann Arbor remain very confident they’ll land him, and while Hart’s tossed Auburn and Alabama and a few other schools up and down the list, Michigan’s stayed put … as you might expect since he’s got a ton of ties there and has leaned that way from the beginning. The (always-erratic) tea leaves here say Chizik and Co. and RichRod split this round.
Elsewhere, Stephon Tuitt‘s high school coach confirms to the third-party AJC that yes, Auburn did make an impression on Tuitt’s recent visit.
Yes! Keep it up! Let’s all take a moment to endorse Nick Saban’s crusade against renegade agents, a very important cause we can all get behind for no ulterior motive whatsoever:
Auburn has something archrival and defending national champion Alabama does not — NFL scouts attending practice.
Just as pro scouts began traveling the country to uncover the next cornerstone player, Alabama coach Nick Saban was eliminating scouts’ access to Crimson Tide practices due to the behavior of pro agents. Saban said in July he wouldn’t want to make the unprecedented move because it could hurt his players, but he feared a complete closed-door policy was the only way to keep agents at bay if the NFL wasn’t going to act first …
Not allowing scouts to attend practice at certain universities could hurt how NFL teams arrange schedules and how they evaluate talent at the collegiate level. Most teams assign college scouts a particular region — take the state of Alabama as an example. On a trip to Alabama, a scout would attempt to visit Alabama, Auburn, Troy and UAB. And, as one former NFL player and current scout with an AFC team stated, “If they shut down practice and still allow access to film and talking to coaches we can still get the information we need. But, if they take everything away from us, they’re only hurting their players.”
This isn’t actually that big a deal, since I don’t think the coachbot’s going to take that last step, and in fact has already said the scout ban will only last through the end of fall camp. And it’s not like the scouts weren’t coming to Auburn anyway, and it’s not like guys like Ingram and Jones need any more exposure than they’ve got.
But still: you have to think that every now and then the scouts find something useful on these trips, or why would they bother? If they can get that at Auburn and not Alabama, so much the better for Auburn. And as for the coachbot, well, I have to wonder how some of the players who signed up with the Tide because they offered the (allegedly) most professional, easiest route to the NFL feel about having their coach waging war against that same league at their potential expense. For everyone to suffer not having scouts around because one guy screwed up doesn’t seem fair. But whatever.
In other SEC coaching decisions of questionable taste and/or wisdom, you’ve probably heard that Derek Dooley refused Bryce Brown’s request for a release–the second such silly, petty release drama Dooley’s cooked up this summer–because, I dunno, as best as I can tell because he wanted Brown to play for him and he wants to throw a hissy fit about his departure. I mean, as far as benefits to Tennessee go … I dunno, Dooley gets to sacrifice Brown as a warning to other players who’d dare try to transfer out of Tennessee? OK. On the downside, a negative recruiting impression? Check. Continued distraction and hullabaloo in the media? Check. Difficult situation for 19-year-old kid already in difficult situation as a result of previous coach’s departure made even harder? Check check.
NCAA investigators have asked to speak with running back Bryce Brown about the recruiting practices at Tennessee under Lane Kiffin, Arthur Brown, Bryce’s father, said Wednesday …
Brown said his family will cooperate with investigators.
“They said they want to talk about the recruiting practices of Tennessee under Kiffin,” Arthur Brown said. “We have nothing to hide. We have no need to be deceptive. If we made a mistake I can say it would not have been intentional. But I think this is about more than Bryce.”
Excellent work here, Dooley. Honestly, I wanted to root for the guy, since the “no-name coach hired amidst disappointment after insane search frenzy” narrative has more than a few parallels with the Chiznick’s. But liars who put their own selfish needs above players who they didn’t even recruit? Uh, no. (Link via.)
BlAUgosphere. It’s just about an all-Kevin Ives edition: you’ve got Tony Caldwell rocking a killer ‘stache, Terry Bowden being a Bowden, and a baseball update, all at PPL. But Kevin’s also next up in the Tiger Corner blogger Q&A series, so there’s that, too.
In non-Kevin Ives-related links, Charles at Tiger Corner tries to gauge the improvement on special teams, Will finds some worthwhile Twitter responses to ‘Bama’s ticket gaffe, and here at TWER Coheed and Cambria’s “Welcome Home” is endorsed as Auburn’s intro song by none other than Coheed and Cambria. (Also here, there was a really long podcast put up, which frankly I feel a little awkward directing you towards, but which pictures you’ll probably get a kick out of even if you don’t give the audio a listen.)
Etc. The next time a Tide fan says word one about Auburn’s academics, kindly remind them they had to come to us to get their own damn stadium built.
*Yeah, he can actually be useful when he’s not being forced to rank the SEC’s coaches by the Best Interior Decorating Jobs in their offices or whatever. Of course, it’s hard to have much sympathy when he takes a relatively simple exercise like “rank the SEC’s quarterbacks” and decides that the scatter-armed guy with a month to learn a new offense under quarterback coaches of decidedly questionable talent is four spots better than a 6’6″ monster under Gus Malzahn.
**You get one guess. Here’s a hint: they never, ever commit holding. Because they are perfect.