Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Works, Sound and Fury-style

So after a week sans posting, a week that even included yesterday's opening bugle for SEC Media Days, I thought I'd be well-nigh buried by an avalanche of news to call attention to--more off-season player shenanigans/comic hijinks, more inadvertent Les-like smack, more brilliance from the SEC's bloggery.

And, well ... not so much? The biggest arrest this week was of a coach. Miles himself unlaced his boxing gloves. The most-talked about post on the college foobaw Internets this week delivered the stunning insight that ESPN could use some work. (It did so in fairly compelling fashion, true, but ... cripes, there are liver flukes swimming around right now going "Man, that 'Who's Now' crap sure is a waste of time." I say we let the flukes worry about ESPN and we move on to more interesting things.)

Hell, even after his turn at the Media Days mic, the most interesting thing Tubby said this week was at a banquet in Daphne, when he addressed ...

Brandon Cox, now starring in "Back to School." Cox was left off any of the three preseason All-SEC teams, prompting Tubby to bust out a little classic "It's a popularity contest ... (his record's) better than the other quarterbacks they voted on" sniping. Which does make one wonder what Tubby might think of Ryan Ferguson's recent assertion that Cox is the ninth-best QB in the SEC. (I suspect he would think something along the lines of "damn bloggers, basements, parent's houses, etc.")

I'm not always fond of Tubby's public candor, but I'd bet heavily that backing up his players after a slight like this plays well in the locker room and he sort of has a point: I mean, Chris Nickson? He's a dangerous QB, sure, bright future ahead. But Cox by all accounts had as miserable an individual season as he could have had while remaining (mostly) upright in 2006, and he still had a better TD-to-INT ratio. He's a senior with 25 starts under his belt; Nickson's a junior with 12. If as healthy as advertised, Cox is still the same QB who went into Athens as a sophomore and went 16-28 for 279, including the game-winner on 4th-and-10. The QB who played like the proverbial steaming pile against the Dawgs last fall is, allegedly, not around anymore.

I'm not, in fact, arguing Cox should have made the third team. (Though ninth is sort of ridiculous.) Woodson and Ainge are fine at 1-2 and there are reasons to vote for any of Cox, Tebow, Stafford, Mitchell, or J.P. Wilson at No. 3. But I do wonder if Tubby's right when he says "popularity"--specifically the popularity of the potential Vandy breakthrough into a bowl game amongst, well, everyone--has something to do with that third-team choice.

More Tubs: Nothing too incendiary or overtly cocky from the Auburn head man at Media Days, though there were a few quotes of interest. Per Phillip Marshall, Neil Caudle is the back-up, unless Al Borges says he's not, which he totally could. As I'd like to see Burns redshirt if we can help it and have no way to differentiate between Caudle or Field, this is fine. Also, Tubby believes Kansas St. and South Florida will both "probably be in the top 25. Both will win 9-10 games." I'm with you on South Florida, Tubs, but K-St.'s a mid-tier bowl team at best.

Not too much of interest from the press conference transcript--he thinks Glenn Dorsey's good and that AU needs running back depth, who'd have guessed--but his discussion of the similarities between his returns to Ole Miss and Saban's to LSU are interesting, as is the barely-disguised glee that the LSU vs. Saban drama is letting his team prepare in relative anonymity. He also adds that Blackmon "got into a little problem last year with me" but that everything's hunky-dory for the moment.

According to NCAA By-Law #3962-C, I refuse to give the first crap. So King Crimson is already winning enemies and influencing recruits, and he wants to know (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding. So certain Internet windbags think Auburn is either the eighth- or second-dirtiest program around. I get the feeling I'm supposed to care. I don't. Both programs are off probation and despite the gibbering regarding Saban's secondary violations, they're both likely to stay that way. When this sort of stuff makes the slightest difference on the field again, then let me know about it.

Pre-season is a time for unbridled confidence warnings of doom. Marshall's "Tracking the Tigers" is quickly becoming Auburn's answer to Dan Steinberg, feauting a half-dozen must-read posts on the Auburn depth chart over the past several days. The most terrifying, not surprisingly, is the one on the special teams units, featuring this quote from Eddie Gran on the placekicking position:

It'll be totally up for grabs. The spring ended up being a total fiasco. It started out well, but the inconsistency was just awful.

Well, then. Nice to know things are going so swimmingly. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to re-watch the 2005 LSU game in preparation for this year and cry into a pillow. This will be discussed in more detail as the season approaches, but the kicking game is easily the single biggest question mark Auburn has. The offensive line should be an overflowing wellspring of certainty and confidence by comparison.

Etc. Doug of Hey Jenny Slater goes all on the SEC; Alabama has a tougher schedule than it might appear to be at first, and it's quite a shame, yes, quite a shame.

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