Friday, September 14, 2007

Things to Remember during Crisis on the Plains 2007


A brief horn riff then sounds as the words "Crisis on the Plains 2007" slide from different sides of the screen into place over an orange-and-blue-background. The logo fades to the anchor desk.

JEROME: I'm Jerome Jurenovich, Headline Sp... I mean, Jerome Jurenovich, filling in for Anderson Cooper. I didn't have anything better to do and my number was still on the Turner Center speed-dial for some reason. Thank you for tuning in to CNN for our ongoing coverage of "Crisis on the Plains 2007." We're going to take you now to a press conference, we understand this is a spokesperson for the Auburn Nation relief organization known as the "Joe Cribbs Car Wash." Let's go there live ...

The screen shows a podium stationed on a small platform. A black banner reading "The Joe Cribbs Car Wash" in white letters is behind the podium, with smaller writing underneath saying ... it doesn't really matter, the banner is as boring as could be. A stadium seems to occupy the background behind the platform. A man in a long-sleeved Auburn shirt and Auburn cap approaches the podium.

JERRY: Good afternoon. Thank you all for coming. By this point, we are all aware of the great challenges now facing our great fan nation in the wake of last Saturday's disaster. There's a lot of panic right now. Families are suffering. We're hearing reports of Auburn fans turning against each other, stories of violence perpetrated against innocent household objects. It's not a pretty picture this catastrophe has painted, and we at the JCCW have to admit that we have been caught off guard. We were hopeful the USF loss would miss us altogether, and even when it hit we expected it to deliver only a Category 2 blow. But we've had several confirmed reports of calls for Tubby's job, clear evidence that this has been a Category 4 defeat. Without question, this is a time of great trial and torment for so many, and it at times like these we remember our brothers and sisters in suffering at Michigan and Notre Dame, which makes us feel better about ourselves.

Relief workers work to clear up the shattered wreckage of Auburn fans' expectations.

At a time like this, we at the JCCW are committed to offering whatever aid and comfort we can to the afflicted. To that end, we would like to take this opportunity to issue the following bulletin of useful tips and reminders, which we believe all Auburn fans would benefit from if recalled and followed. We're well aware it's going to take a long, long time or a victory at Gainesville to heal the wounds of last Saturday, but the JCCW would like to play its part in helping Auburn fans take those first few steps towards stability, or, failing that, at least towards not lying in the bushes outside Tubby's house with a pellet gun.

First, we would like Auburn fans to remember that South Florida is a top-25 quality team. Despite the Bulls' limited pedigree, they boast the most accomplished college quarterback in the state of Florida, a bevy of returning starters, excellent coaching, and perhaps most importantly a budding tradition of causing wreckage and destruction amongst the fan bases of larger programs, having crushed a 2005 Louisville team and defeated a 2006 West Virginia team that were each Auburn's equals if not (in the case of WVU) Auburn's superiors. USF's conference may not wield the total destructive power of the SEC, but individual cells have proven themselves over the past few seasons to be every bit as lethal.

While many in the Auburn community were fully aware of the danger ahead of time, the failure of appropriate college football communication systems like ESPN, the polls, and the Alabama media to alert the Auburn populace left many unprepared for the result and has greatly exacerbated the damage inflicted by this weekend's disaster. In an effort to prevent future re-occurences and protect the good people of West Virginia, Rutgers, etc. from similar anguish and prevent confusion amongst fans who may see USF as another East Carolina or Western Michigan rather than the Southern Cal or South Carolina they more closely resemble, the JCCW is proud to announce than any writer referring to South Florida as a "directional team" is now eligible for a voucher good for one free Foot Up Their Ass, redeemable at any JCCW branch office.

The upset sirens didn't sound loudly enough.

Second, we ask that Auburn fans refrain from calling for the removal of offensive coordinator Al Borges. Although the JCCW has already issued one statement absolving coach Borges, we would like to reiterate our position, stating for the record that a) the 20 first-half points his offense would have scored if not for Mr. Brandon Cox's ill-fated pass towards Mr. Tommy "Double-Covered at the Time" Trott represent a substantial level of success b) Auburn's second half possessions failed for the following reasons:

1. A fourth-down fumble by Mr. Cox on what appeared to be a successful first-down sneak
2. Mr. Rod Smith cutting off a route short of necessary first-down yardage on first down
3. A fumble by Mr. Mario Fannin
4. A second fumble by Mr. Fannin
5. A sequence of dropped pass-five-yard penalty-curious backwards run to set up an impossible 3rd-and-20
6. A horrific interception by Mr. Cox
7. N/A, successful drive capped by field goal
8. The OT possession described in previous statement.

Of these eight possessions, we believe coach Borges' play-calling to be at fault, if on any, on the three-and-out ending with Smith's short route. On all other drives the responsibility rests with the Auburn players' execution, and we call on Auburn fans to begin the healing process by recalling that their dissatisfaction with coach Borges coincides perfectly with the dissolution of Mr. Cox's skills at quarterback, and adjust their blame accordingly.

Thirdly, we strongly suggest that Auburn fans understand that the laws of chance dictated that a catastrophe such as this was long overdue to strike. Assessments of Auburn's great likelihood for a USF-like disaster in 2007 and placement squarely in harm's way have long been available both here and elsewhere, and Auburn's good fortune in having been spared such miseries previously should always have been viewed as a simple delay of the inevitable. Although we would love nothing more than for each "Upset Alert" we issue and every request for fans to evacuate their expectations for a game be a false alarm, it was inevitable one of these situations was going to prove to be, as they say, "not a drill."

Fourth, in the further interest of diffusing tensions in the wake of USF, we call for an end to retroactive demands in the change of offensive personnel. These have taken two primary forms, one that Mr. Fannin should have replaced Mr. Ben Tate for all second-half snaps excluding the series immediately following the second of his costly fumbles. While the JCCW is more than happy to acknowledge that Mr. Fannin appears to be the substantially more talented runner and should be the starting tailback, we would also submit to Auburn fans that it was Mr. Tate who had the better game in the face of USF's fury. The final lines for the two tailbacks are as follows:

Rushing No Gain Loss Net TD Lg Avg
Tailback A 14 67 5 62 1 15 4.4
Tailback B 14 73 12 61 0 36 4.4

In other words, statistically, the two backs were nearly indistinguishable. When considering as well that Mr. Fannin's two fumbles stuck a devastating blow against the Auburn offense's ability to stem the oncoming USF tide, it seems clear that Mr. Tate was in fact the superior rusher Saturday.

To repeat, this is not an endorsement for the sufficient-if-increasingly-pedestrian-looking Mr. Tate continuing to receive an equal number of carries as the potentially game-breaking Mr. Fannin. We merely wish to demonstrate that the criticism of Auburn's leadership in this case is again, we feel, without justification.

Likewise, those asking why Mr. Cox had not been replaced either before or during Saturday's chaos are advised to take a second look at his 2005 statistics (with special attention to the TD-to-INT ratio and that his in-conference efficiency rating was the highest in the league--

PASSING GP Effic Att-Cmp-Int Pct Yds TD Lng Avg/G
Brandon Cox 11 132.59 306-177-8 57.8 2324 15 62 211.3

--and withdraw their complaints in the light that the coaching staff had neither a competent backup due to the injury to Mr. Neil Caudle and youth of Mr. Kodi Burns (the JCCW does not recognize the alleged competence of Mr. Blake Field) nor sufficient cause to bench Mr. Cox without his actually having lost a game yet this season.

With that said, the JCCW readily and wholeheartedly joins all Auburn fans in requesting this personnel change should Mr. Cox continue to recklessly emperil the mental health of Auburn fans in this period of confusion and sorrow.

Auburn fans participate in a candlelight vigil honoring the hopes and SEC West division dreams lost in last Saturday's calamity.

Lastly, we would encourage Auburn fans to look to the future. As bleak as the present appears, and many experts are forecasting even greater levels of pain and anguish in Auburn's very near future, the return in 2008 of nine of the 11 players projected to start for our team on offense this Saturday (and the disappointing play thus far of the two who will not return) and ample young talent such as Messrs. McNeil, Marks, Blackmon, etc. on defense suggest that even should this season further spiral into grief, distress, a 7-5 record, and demands for a new head coach, it may only be a precursor to greater glory once the season of trial of passed--just as the 2003 season many said would be a blow from which Auburn would never recover gave way to a bright new era of prosperity, success, and recruiting five-star tackles out of Arkansas.

And lest we at the JCCW be accused of looking too far ahead, and as badly as our expectations have been damaged, we will never count out this particular team out of any individual game so long as our coach is one who has so masterfully spun success out of ashes before. In truth, one successful quarterback and one successful receiver appear to be the only thing standing between Auburn and an almost immediate recovery.

In conclusion, War Eagle, and please ignore this bulletin and abandon all hope should Auburn suffer a second blow at Starkville tomorrow. Thank you.

Back at the CNN anchor desk...

JEROME: Again, the spokesperson for the Joe Cribbs Car Wash, and boy, that took a while. Stay tuned for further coverage of "Crisis on the Plains 2007," including a special report from Christine Amanpour on those criminals who would seek to take advantage of this tragedy for their own personal gain. Auburn officials have already released a photo of one man wanted for his long history of such activity:

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