Friday, November 03, 2006

Creative hijinks! The usual

I haven’t done much in the way of previewing Auburn’s upcoming opponents recently—somehow, the idea of breaking down, say, the Tulane defense’s strengths and weaknesses when lining up in their nickel package didn’t appeal to me—so I thought I’d get creative for today’s post. I’d write “10 Little Known Facts About Arkansas St.” to help get myself and the JCCW’s loyal readers fired up for the Indians. All seven of them could use the firing up, most likely.

So here’s the first two:

1. In 2004, in an effort to avoid the NCAA’s politically-correct wrath but retain their “Indians” moniker, the Arkansas St. administration decided to switch the athletics department’s “brand” from Native American Indian to Asian Sub-continent Indian. The current helmet logo was to be replaced by a simple, elegant red dot, while current mascot "Red" (!) was to be replaced by “Big G,” a jersey-clad version of the Hindu elephant deity Ganesh. The idea was abandoned after ASU brass saw this clip from the Simpsons and NCAA President Myles Brand informed the school that their new take on “Indians” was, if possible, even more offensive than the old one. However, the decision came after the school had already finished printing the first 500 t-shirts bearing their new logo of Mahatma Gandhi snapping a football, a la the old New England Patriot. The shirts are now prized collector’s items.

2. Little known fact: Tommy Tuberville started his coaching career at Arkansas St.! Bet you didn’t know that! Hard to believe! But ... it’s true!

Then I realized that when your team’s goals for said game are

1. Stay healthy
2. Stay healthy
3. Stay healthy
4. Win by any margin wide enough to not be labeled “laughable”
5. Stay healthy

you really shouldn’t be fired up anyway. Plus, I’m pretty sure the list of “Little Known Facts About Arkansas St.” worth reading would have topped out at about three-and-a-half.

So here’s the usual assortment of half-baked opinion and whatnot:

--Because it’s worth noting and re-noting even if you’ve already seen it noted: the Auburn o-line has allowed zero sacks since the “Honk If You Sacked Brandon” first half against Florida. Whatever you want to say about Hugh Nall, Auburn fans (and I know some of you have said some fairly nasty things, especially since 2003), there’s no question that year-in and year-out his lines get better as the season progresses. Always. I have serious, serious doubts AU could find better if they tried.

--So here I was, all ready to play Charitable Rational SEC Fan and talk about how the WVU-Louisville winner deserved to play for the national title if they went undefeated. And then I got a good look at their defenses. Ye gods. When it was over, even fans of the mid-1980s WAC transported through time to watch the game were left shaking their heads, muttering “You call that football? A thousand friggin’ yards of offense?” and making ping-pong comparisons. Charitable and rational an SEC fan as the JCCW would like to be, no team that believes the fastest way to get its offense back onto the field is to let the other team score should play for a national championship. It’s blog policy not to bring up the issue of Auburn vs. Other Teams re: the BCS in mid-season, but in the (still quite, quite unlikely) event an undefeated U of L is chosen ahead of a one-loss SEC champion—a potential navy-and-orange one in particular—come January, yes, the JCCW will be squawking with the best of them.

--Come to Jesus, Kirk Herbstreit. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot be both the “We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1!” face of Ohio St. celebrity fandom in Columbus and a fair and objective analyst on Gameday. Blame the paper all you want, Kirk, but the money quote from the JCCW’s perspective isn’t the “worthless” line, it’s this: “If those two teams were to play right now, just the way they're playing, I don't even think it would be close. Ohio State not only wins that game the way they're playing right now, maybe by a few scores.” Unless the News failed to mention that what followed “scores” was a comma, and then “though, by golly, you have to think Michigan’s going to pick it up, bring their A-game to the ‘Shoe, and give the fans a hell of a time … anything could happen,” well, Kirk is obviously a biased ass. I’m sure we could find any number of message board posts by guys with handles like “BucksNo1FoEva” saying something along the lines of “Uh, have you seen Michigan’s defense? If this game isn’t close I’m wearing maize-and-blue to my wedding.” Only a guy wearing the very thickest in scarlet-and-gray eyewear would think anything different. So when he picks the Buckeyes to win that game, how on earth are viewers supposed to believe his pick is based on anything besides his rooting interests? It’s journalistically indefensible to allow Herbstreit to continue commenting on Ohio St. and Michigan, but I doubt ESPN will do anything, seeing as how they’re totally down with journalistically indefensible these days.

--Phil, take it from Auburn fans, you don’t want to rush Erik Ainge back. No need to risk him in a meaningless game with LSU. You want to make sure he’s good and ready for that pivotal clash you’ve got coming up in Fayetteville. That’s the one that’ll decide your season. We Auburn fans just want what’s best for your team, Phil. Rest Ainge this week. Please. (Please? We’ve got some Chick-Fil-A coupon booklets … we know you’re interested … all yours … )

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