Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Works, Ouch babe-style

Now, imagine the guy in pain in navy and the other guys in white, and you'll have an accurate picture of Auburn's injury situation.*

Thank goodness for bye weeks. You probably know by now that Tray Blackmon may go under the knife and see another underwhelming season washed down the tubes, but that's kind of only the start of the Auburn D's current injury troubles:
The Tigers will also be off Friday and Saturday before resuming a normal practice schedule Sunday.

That rest should prove vital to cornerback Jerraud Powers (hamstring) and Antoine Carter (ankle), who both watched Saturday’s loss from the sidelines. Not to mention Antonio Coleman (pulled leg muscle), Sen’Derrick Marks (ankle), Craig Stevens (ankle), Tray Blackmon (wrist) and any other Auburn defensive players who has played through pain during the seven-games-in-seven-weeks stretch.
Toss in Aairon Savage and the also-hobbled Michael Goggans, and that's three-quarters of the starting defensive line, two-thirds of the starting linebacking corps, and both starting corners who are either out of the season or battling some sort of substantial injury. By the end of the Arkansas game they'd taken the field for seven straight weeks and had seen the offense laugh off the very concept of "time of possession." I'm fairly sure they can be excused for their performance against the Hogs and it's no wonder Rhoads says Auburn needs to "get our legs back" over the bye. If I'm not mistaken I saw Walt McFadden's fall off and have to be reattached midway through the fourth quarter.

Not buying it. I do *heart* Tubby, but man, he just doesn't sound like a guy who's on the surest of footing with the press these days. Last week his take on the offense was that "You've got to base out of something and we base out of running the ball and throwing the ball, basically is what it comes down to," a statement which for yours truly comes frighteningly close to depending on what your meaning of "is" is.

This week, it's further wobbling about hiring a spread guy and this exchange from that same Scarbinsky column:
No matter the new coordinator's identity or specialty, if Tuberville's around to hire him, how will he prevent a repeat of this season's staff friction if he keeps the current offensive assistants?

"That's my job," he said. "Everybody's got to work together. You've got to have good chemistry. I saw where you said there was (friction). There wasn't. Let me tell you something.

"There's arguments right now in our defensive room, but when you come out, you gotta be sold on what you're doing."

Is he saying there were no personality conflicts on offense with Franklin?

"We're not all on the same page on defense, but when we go out there to practice, we're all on the same page. We were on the same page when we went on the practice field and in games when Tony was with us.

"I'm not gonna have that. These guys, everybody's professionals."
I admire Tubby's dedication to keeping things prim and civil, but this isn't the case. When your offensive coordinator is running routes for his wide receivers and by nearly all accounts attempting to run offensive practice by himself, the staff is just not all on the same page. When a new quarterback comes into the game and the offensive coordinator places the entire responsibility for that decision on the head coach, these two coaches are--again--not on the same page. We know these things, and even if outright honesty isn't the best policy in this case, am I wrong in thinking that the old, more secure, straight-shootin' Tubby would have made some acknowledgment that, yeah, there was some friction on the staff? Maybe it's just "Auburn news of an anxiety-causing nature" fatigue, but

Actually, I sort of am my brother's keeper, when you think about it. You would think if anyone could muster up some sympathy for Tommy Bowden and his quick-trigger midseason firing, it would be someone who's not only a brother of the college football coaching fraternity and a brother of the "I got unceremoniously dumped midseason" fraternity and an actual real-life brother. You would think wrong:
I can honestly say that I thought Clemson would beat Wake Forest last week and climb back into the race for the ACC Championship Game. The Tigers still have as much talent as anyone in the conference, and I surmised that as soon as they had a little success on offense, the confidence would come back and they would get on a roll ... So, did Tommy Bowden deserve what happened to him Monday?

Unfortunately, yes ...

Clemson expects to win the conference championship once in a while – and they should. After 10 years of falling short, they deserve the right to try to find a coach they believe can get them there.
Yikes. Won't that make the next family game of Yahtzee or gin rummy interesting. At least Terry isn't stooping to lording his one glorious season that Tommy never had over his brother's head.
When I went to Auburn in 1993 as the coach, Tommy already was on the staff there. I asked him to stick around and be my offensive coordinator. That is not an easy thing to do, especially when you are the older brother and you come from a family where there is an accepted hierarchy about how things like that are supposed to happen. Tommy sucked up his pride and helped us go undefeated in our first season. Then he watched with pride, from the background, while I was awarded national coach-of-the-year honors.
Oh. Nevermind. I guess he really is that big intense a tool. (HT: Doc Sat.)

Haters be hatin'. The ESPN punditry offered Auburn a double-barreled blast of scorn this week, with both Pat Forde and the more-insufferable-by-the-week Gregg Easterbrook taking the time to wag their fingers in Tubby's direction. Forde at least has something of a point, since the answer to these questions--
Sources told The Dash that the coaching staff had become embroiled in turmoil and Tuberville felt compelled to do something to stave off an internal insurrection -- but shouldn't the head coach and administration be able to settle disputes with something less rash than an in-season firing? Isn't that part of the reason a coach and athletic director get paid the big bucks, to handle personality and philosophy conflicts?
-- is undoubtedly "Yes." But when Forde frames these questions amidst cheap shots at Auburn's NCAA run-ins (because the "warped perspective" that last led to probation 15 years ago has so much to do with Tubby firing Tony Franklin) and the failure to observe that Tubby's been loyal to his non-coordinator assistants to a fault, his complaints aren't going to carry a whole lot of credibility here. I suggest he take Black Heart, Gold Pants up on their recent culinary suggestion. (More on this at Track'Em.)

As for Easterbrook, anyone who 1. perpetually whines about media overreactions to political and sporting events 2. turns around and encourages fans to make snap judgments about "weasel" coaches a handful of weeks into their tenures 3. follows this up by refusing to admit, hey, maybe that snap judgment I encouraged regarding Nick Saban at Alabama was, to use EDSBS's Easterbrook-inspired adjective, whoreaciously wrong is 4. not worth dignifying with a response.

Yet more QB stuff. I hate to point this out, but ...
Coaches were dismayed with Todd's 3-for-10 performance against Arkansas last week. Todd was intercepted while attempting to throw a ball out of bounds during the second half.

That's when Tuberville decided intervention was in order.
Really? Then why did he re-enter the game two series later? Cripes. Acid Reign's not happy about it either, but like yours truly is holding out a glimmer of hope that a committed and experienced Burns can accomplish some things down the stretch.

Etc. The complete SEC Power Poll is up, and apparently several people kindly missed the memo that Arkansas actually defeated Auburn last Saturday ... the SEC's television bonanza might actually help out the schools at which the conference's teams play, which is good news for academic bleedin'-hearts like myself (HT: Blutarsky)... A six-fingered foam hand to represent Auburn's six Iron Bowl wins is a pretty shrewd idea. Actually sticking the school's copyrighted stuff on the hands, not so much ... the SEC's football-player graduation rates are about where you'd expect them to be, unfortunately, though there's some good news in the big picture ... I can envision a world where we ride hover-unicorns to our job at the rainbow-powered electric plant built by President-for-Life Lisa Frank, but I can't see how Tommy Tuberville will ever be hired by Tennessee for their head coaching job. Apparently, that's where Chris Low and I differ ... Red Solo Cup talks smack about both Georgia's and Alabama's men in the trenches in the most entertainingly obscure fashion possible.

Oh, and ... just FYI, posting may be a bit light this afternoon and tomorrow due to real-life stuff, a debut post at new SEC blog Team Speed Kills, and continued work on the second half of the LSU trip narrative, which obviously should have been finished a while back. Oh well.

*Picture borrowed from, who captions it "Auburn guard Tyronne Green (71) and Auburn defensive end Sen'Derrick Marks (94) bring down Arkansas running back Michael Smith (21) in the second quarter Saturday October 11, 2008 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala." Um, fellas? Better check the number on "Tyronne Green" again.


Acid Reign said...

.....LOL on the picture. I believe that's actually safety Mike Slade, in there with Marks. Green plays offense, which you'd think the newspaper folks would know!

Anonymous said...

Jerry, I was there on Saturday looking right down the west sideline and had the best view in the house of Todd's interception. He was definitely NOT trying to throw it out of bounds. He was trying to hit a AU receiver (Trott I think) down the line when he SHOULD have thrown it away.

On one hand he doesn't deserve the right to wear Cox's jersey, but on the other he has more than earned it.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Acid, I suspect it's some copy-editing non-sports person in charge of that caption who they handed a roster to. Or something. It is pretty funny.

Anon, I think that's not a bad way of summing up how weird it is to remember Cox's career.