Sunday, September 16, 2007


Van Gogh clearly understood college football fandom.

With my first wide-open Sunday of the season, the plan was for this post to be the first recap of the year. It would have been quality--for God's sake, it was a single broadcast featuring Daughtry and Taylor Hicks and the ongoing wonder that is three idiots named Dave (even if one idiot is new). The comedy writes itself.

But taking a second look that close at that ... I was going to write "train wreck," but it's more like a train wreck an airplane crashes into in the middle of a rain of frogs ... anyway, a second look would just be too painful for the resulting pay-off, like walking barefoot over a floor of broken bottle glass to win a radio contest and finding out the prize is a year's supply of sardines. Hooray, sardines.

Leave them out for a day or two in the sun, and you can start to smell Auburn's season.

Plus, as Will pointed out, looking back doesn't seem real fruitful at this point. We all know that Cox is broken and almost certainly beyond repair. We all know that our receivers' hands survived the freezing process and have been successfuly encased in carbonite. We're all aware that allowing a team with quarterbacks who would struggle to hit an open Vulcan from 12 yards to convert 3rd-and-12 on a draw play is not the sort of game-saving play Auburn needed out of its defense. I also considered giving into Saturday's rage and anger and retracting my earlier call for calm during Crisis on the Plains in a flurry of player-calling-out and bitter demands of the coaching staff, but that doesn't seem worthwhile either. We all know that, until they prove otherwise, Auburn sucks like the fat kid trying to slurp the last bit of Mickey-D's milkshake through his straw. The myriad ways in which they suck don't need further detailing.

So here's what you're getting: a random, scattershot collection of thoughts and responses without overarching theme, topic, or organization. In some ways, I think that's the appropriate reaction to a season like this: This team prepared and approached its season in its usual, rational, organized way. That was fine. Now it's time to throw everything at the wall, see what sticks, and go from there.

1. If you were not a student and booed Brandon Cox at the game Saturday, I would like to kindly ask you to donate all of your Auburn gear to the Salvation Army, burn your tickets, and never set foot inside Jordan-Hare Stadium again. To have Cox--a guy who for all his struggles has shown time and again he'd give up a kidney to help this program and has been responsible for win after win after win the past two seasons, whether you'd like to pretend said wins fell from the sky or not--booed that loudly in our stadium sickens, disgusts, and above all shames me as an Auburn fan. I would say every single thing Kanu says in this post, colorful language and all, if he hadn't said it already. If you want to boo, you are welcome to do so at home. I would rather have an empty seat telling the team their "fans" don't care than a full one busy telling them they suck. Just stay the hell away. (And students, I'm aware you're young, stupid, and drunk, and prone to doing things like booing. Whatever. Just please don't make a habit of it--you see how quickly it spreads these days.)

2. Gracious, how little does the Auburn coaching staff think of Blake Field? Tubby admits Burns knows "three, four, or five plays" and he still plays nearly the entire game over the guy who's been in the offense for years? If I did this post over again, I think Neil Caudle's injury might be the biggest one of all for Auburn this season.

3. If there's any good news from Saturday, it's that Michael Henig left the stadium without any sort of major structural damage caused. Given the intensity of whatever black voodoo-hoodoo-juju curse has been put on the poor kid, I think all he'd have to do would be to lean on a pillar for a few minutes before it came crashing down in a hail of rubble. Doorknobs probably break off in his hand.

4. I didn't think it was possible for my man-crush on Quentin Groves to grow any more intense, but then he mans up and takes responsibility for his mistake, on the record, even admitting he's been thinking about the damn sack record. I'd rather he have not made the mistake in the first place (file that little observation under: "painfully obvious"), but the leadership shown in placing the focus on himself is precisely what this team needs. As long as guys like Groves are around, there's hope things will get better.

5. The single biggest disappointment about this team? Auburn starts (or started) four seniors on offense: Cox, Dunlap, Bennett, and Rodriguez. Sorry fellas, but you were the four we had to lean on and all four of you have been heart-breakingly bad. Please, please pick it up.

6. If you want to see karma in action, Auburn outgained its opponent for the first time in six games. They won three of those first four and took the other into overtime. The pendulum was just waiting to swing the other way.

7. I'm not usually one of the "All we have to do is defeat 'Bama, and it's a great year" types. But honestly? This year, at the JCCW, given all that's happened both over there and on the Plains and how both programs are (completely justifiably) being seen right now, every game between now and the Iron Bowl is practice for that one. I cannot remember the last time I wanted to win that game so badly ... and I live in Michigan. What I'm saying is that if a few eggs get broken along the way to making a Crimson Tide omelet, I'm not going to complain. Much.

8. New Mexico St. scares the absolute, complete utter hell out of me. Mumme's offense is going to put points on the board. Period. Ours, even against their D? No such guarantee.

Never thought I'd say it, but this guy has me terrified.

9. And this is what worries me the most: If Auburn does lose that game, if we get swept on the road, if we ... if we ... lose to 'Bama AAAARRGGGGHHH MY FINGERS IT BURNS IT BURNS ... Tubby might not survive. I know I said otherwise in the comments thread just a few posts back, but I was still under the impression 6-6 was about as low as this team could go. Now? 3-9 looks possible. 2-10. And the finger is going to be back on the trigger.

It's not fair. What hope this team has lies in the massive stockpile of young talent Auburn's got. McNeil. Marks. Ziemba. Savage. Fannin, assuming he ever cures his case of the fumblies. Burns, who will be an absolute terror in two seasons. As black and bleak and the present is, that's how bright this team's future coudl be, and Tubby's the reason for that. He deserves to at have least have one more go at turning this present into that future, and I'll say that even if Tennesee Tech goes Appalachian St. on us.

But I sure don't expect to have a lot of support in that position should many more Saturdays feel like this last one.


Anonymous said...

Nice job as ususal, J. I do not like the idea of dropping Tubby at all. If anything, Borges has to go. He has made zero adjustments from last year to this one. Tubby is just too good a manager.


Doophy said...

Seems to me if the coaching staff have decided on Burns and Fanin as the future of the team, they should get the start against NM St. Let Cox sit one out - or at least come in off the bench for few plays. After that, let him start in Gainesville and decide his future at the half - is he going to be our starter, or will he fill a mentor role for the younger guys as they gain experience throughout the remainder of the season?

I see two positive things coming out of this: Obviously, Burns gets playing time and experience against a defense that, while not the worst, isn't great and may instill some confidence. Second, it gives Cox a needed swift kick in the ass. I agree he's sweat blood for the team, but I think he needs a reminder that he's a senior and if he can't produce, we need to get game experience into another QB ASAP!

I have no doubt Cox is capable of leading the team to victory over the likes of USF, Miss St. & NM St., but the past two weekends have shown a noticeable fall-off in the on-field focus of the offense as a whole. On the field, in the huddle, that focus is largely the responsibility of the guy taking the snaps. Yes, Cox has done everything he was ever asked and more, but are we really hurting his NFL draft prospects by benching him and moving on? I'm all for giving the guy a chance to bounce back, but eventually, the team needs to think about next year when he's gone not playing in the C/NFL.

folkart4 said...

I'm right with you in saying Tuberville needs to stay. The past three years have been the best ever in AU history. No right minded Auburn fan should be thinking of getting rid of him. Look at the other teams in the league, Tubby owns them. And with the talent we have in the program, it will continue to be that way.

Newspaper Hack said...

Auburn should win this weekend (like last weekend, natch), but having two failures from the past come in will be bizarre. I mean, Mumme and Woody Woodenwhateverthehelltherestofhisnameis?

These guys know what it's like to lose in the SEC, so you never know, they just might roll over because of habit.