Thursday, June 28, 2007


To Phil Steele: Let the disappointment and the anger go, Phil. Bitterness only hurts. It never heals.

Sure, I know you’ve got your alleged logical “reasons” for shuffling Auburn off to the steerage deck of your S.S. Top 50, down with the chickens and crates and Virginia. Auburn did have a couple of statistically fortunate wins last year that the cruel and heartless Regression to the Mean (and issues in the kicking game) might deny us this fall. Yes, the road schedule in 2007 is a bear’s bear. I know you’re Dazed and Confused-level high on South Florida and the Tide, so you’re seeing a home loss or two as well.

I could go the long route and refute those arguments step-by-step (and will here, in time), but they’re not real issue here, are they, Phil? This is about last year. This is about you projecting the Tigers into the BCS title game, and then watching them come within 10 more LSU yards and one successful Florida punt of going 8-4. About them not living up to your standards of prognostication. Auburn disappointed you. Hell hath no fury like a serious handicapper scorned, I’m aware of that.

But Phil: 41st? Nine spots behind Memphis? Six behind Purdue? Phil, this is still the same Auburn team that’s gone 34-5 since Al Borges arrived. To finish where you project them, they’d have to equal that number of losses this season alone. It’s possible, yes. But it doesn’t seem the wisest bet.

So why the hostility, Phil? You couldn’t have been any happier with Oklahoma after last season—you had them #1!—and now you’ve got them right back at #3 despite the fact their quarterbacks are so green they make that vegetable guy look like the Jolly Pale Aqua Giant. (ZING!) We’re confused, Phil. Come back to us. We miss you.

To the Auburn trustees: Make this happen. I know their might be more pressing academic matters that could be helped just a tad by $95 million. But the fact is that Beard-Eaves is a stale building, a symbol of Auburn basketball’s hopeful past and long, slow descent: the place Sonny Smith and Joe Ciampi departed to leave behind Tommy Joe Eagles’s well-intentioned futility, Cliff Ellis’s parade of JUCOs, and a women’s program so anonymous I’d wager even most Auburn diehards couldn’t name the current coach. (It’s Nell Fortner, by the way.)

Even better, there’s no question that this—

The arena would seat roughly 9,600 fans -- although Jacobs cautioned that the number isn't yet set in stone -- which is about 900 less than Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum, Auburn's current home. The new arena would be the second-smallest men's basketball arena in the SEC (Tad Smith Coliseum at Ole Miss seats 8,700). But Jacobs said the new arena's intimacy will be part of its appeal. He said the building is being designed for basketball, not as a multi-purpose facility.

—is exactly the right idea. Basketball puts just 10 players on the court in a relatively tiny area. It’s not meant for domes and 25,000-seat caverns, particularly if your program’s struggling for atmosphere anyway. Nice to see Jacobs spearhead something like this the same week Finebaum gets on his case for, oh, no real reason.

To me: Quit giving the first crap about the Atlanta Hawks, a franchise so screwed up they might take a guy best known for posting up furniture over the best player on the two-time national champions, because one of their 254 different owners thinks Yi might help him promote his line of Chinese fabric softeners, or something.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been one for taking good advice.

To the Atlanta Hawks: Take Al Horford in tonight’s draft, pray like hell Conley drops to No. 11 (which might very well happen if the Grizzlies pass on him or trade that pick), and if he doesn’t, trade the pick for a veteran point. (I’m with Ford and Simmons that Calderon should be Plan A, but I don’t think Ridnour would be a disaster, either.) The Hawks have to get a quality point out of that pick and Acie Law IV ain’t him. Law’s a great college player, but a) he’s nearly as old as I am and is as good now as he will ever be b) his biggest strength is that he’s “clutch” and “not afraid to take the big shot.” No thanks. The Hawks have someone, namely Joe Johnson, to take the big shot already; what they need is someone to get Johnson the damn ball. This NY Times piece by a former Penn player hypes Law up for taking over their game, but he’s just not going to be able to do that at the NBA level—and there’s not really anything in his game (shooting, distribution, defense) to make up for it.

To Tubby: Not so much advice as well-wishing: Feel better, Tubs.

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