Monday, November 24, 2008

The Works, trappings of the holiday-style

Quickie analysis of how Auburn can win this Saturday: they'll have to GO CRAZY.

Awwwwwww yeah.

Just like a picture print by Currier and Ives. In case you were wondering how Auburn was going to balance the holiday with their preparations for the Tide ...
On Thursday morning, players who aren't on the travel roster will be sent home for Thanksgiving. Auburn will have two more practices or walk-throughs with the traveling players on Thursday and Friday. The players will get a turkey dinner at Sewell Hall but no other trappings of the holiday.
... they aren't. Auburn football players don't get a Thanksgiving. Try to remember that as you curse their sorry, no-account hides should things go badly Saturday, please.

Also in that same notebook:
Some fans were critical of Auburn coaches when Fannin didn't play in the two final series of last week's loss to Georgia. Tuberville said Ben Tate played instead because the team was in a passing situation and coaches were more comfortable with his ability to understand and execute blocks.

"Coach Gran goes with whoever he thinks is best during that series and who he trusts during that series," Ensminger said. "I really don't tell him. We have a plan on when we do want (Fannin) in the ballgame and we have a plan on certain things that we don't want him involved in."
So, the idiot coach who left Fannin on the sidelines against the Dawgs who has no idea what he's doing and shouldn't ever draw a paycheck again is ... Eddie Gran, the one guy we basically all agree should stick around if at all possible after the new OC hire.

Joy. One of these things is not like the other:
Ensminger, of course, had the bigger grin because he won’t be lining up across from the 6-foot-5, 365-pound Alabama nose guard Saturday in the Iron Bowl.

“He ain’t bothered me a lick,” Ensminger said.

Bosley, though, will be the one trading licks with Cody, a projected first-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft if he opts to forego his upcoming senior season.

Bosley, a senior who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 273 pounds, gives up plenty of weight on Cody and will likely need help from one of Auburn’s guards to prevent Cody from squashing Auburn’s tailbacks or quarterback Kodi Burns.
Emphasis mine, through the tears and gnashing of teeth.

Really? Was anyone else's mind kind of blown when they saw this little statistical nugget in the AU-fficial site preview:
Junior Ben Tate needs just 53 yards rushing to become the 13th player in Auburn history with 2,000 career rushing yards.
It's not that it's hard for me to believe Tate is about to pass 2,000 yards--he's a solid, reliable back who's been plugging away since he was a freshman. But after 100+ years of Auburn football--almost all of it spent picking up four- and five-yard chunks on the ground as the first, second, and third offensive plan--only 12 tailbacks have passed over the 2,000-yard hurdle? I know freshmen didn't used to play, but still. Surprising.

Here's your confirmation, Tide fans. Via TWER comes this column from Rheta Grimsley-Johnson--who Jeremy correctly dubs the "Bo Jackson of Auburn journalism"--which I'm sure Tide fans will be all too happy to seize on as proof of our fanbase's pathetic obsession blah blah care more about Alabama than our own blah team blah blah:
Ive always pulled for Auburn and against Alabama. But this year, for the first time, I have to admit I enjoy the latter more.

I watch Auburn games whenever I can, and will stick with it to the bitter end, especially if the game is close. But if we are winning in a lopsided fashion, I might take a walk outside at the half, or wash the supper dishes during a time out, or - don't tell anyone - miss the ending. If we lose, unless it's to Alabama, I can accept that without much trouble.

But if it's Alabama playing, winning or losing, I am there until the Fat Lady - the Crimson Tide's homecoming queen - sings. Even when they run up the score, I imagine that the other team might somehow pull off a miracle in the last seconds, same as Auburn did in 1972 ...

Hating Alabama is a worthy passion. It is part of my life, like longing for a white Christmas, or taking in stray dogs.
To be perfectly honest, yeah, it strikes me as a little on the extreme side to skip out on the end of, say, Auburn's perfectly workmanlike win over Southern Miss while suffering through the end of Alabama-Mississippi St. But hey, if there was ever a year to adopt this approach, this is the year. Auburn hasn't been this forgettable for a while, and the Tide have basically never been more hatable than they are this year. Rheta doesn't speak for us all, but I'm fine with knowing that particular brand of Auburn fandom is out there. That this version of the Tide deserves more hate than Auburn deserves love ... it's not a particularly constructive worldview, but it's a logical one.

And oh, speaking of TWER, this ...

... is awesome.

Here's your confirmation, Auburn fans. It won't surprise any Auburn fans who are paying attention that we've played an awful lot of close games over the past few years and generally done pretty well in those games (until the Season of DEATH, anyway), but it's still kind of cool to see Braves and Birds put it in black-and-white like so:
In honor of Nigel Tufnel, I decided to look at the top 11 BCS Conference teams (as measured by winning percentage) since Richt's first season in Athens and rank them by the number of games decided by one score in which they played. To the numbers we go!

1. Michigan - 43 games - 23-20 - 43% of all games
2. Auburn - 40 games - 27-13 - 40% of all games
3. Georgia - 40 games - 26-14 - 39% of all games
4. Miami - 35 games - 20-15 - 36% of all games
5. Florida - 36 games - 19-17 - 36% of all games
6. Ohio State - 33 games - 22-11 - 33% of all games
7. LSU - 33 games - 24-9 - 32% of all games
8. USC - 31 games - 17-14 - 31% of all games
9. Virginia Tech - 29 games - 12-17 - 28% of all games
10. Texas - 28 games - 20-8 - 28 % of all games
11. Oklahoma - 23 games - 14-9 - 22% of all games
The biggest upshot to take from this, if you ask me, is that the Pythagorean notion that close wins even out for a given team over time is at least a little flawed--Auburn, Georgia, Texas, and LSU all seem to be able to win tight ones as a "repeatable skill." It doesn't mean that the ridiculous 17-3 stretch in close games Auburn had from '04 through '06 was going to continue, but it's worth noting that one year's good record in close games might not automatically preclude a similar record the following year.

And lastly ... If you're looking for reasons to be optimistic about Auburn's men's hoops team, you could do worse than "Waller and Sullivan go a combined 9-of-20 from 3 in comeback from 15-point halftime deficit."

1 comment:

PhilipVU94 said...

It doesn't mean that the ridiculous 17-3 stretch in close games Auburn had from '04 through '06 was going to continue, but it's worth noting that one year's good record in close games might not automatically preclude a similar record the following year.

Well, that's not exactly what the Pythagorean stuff is saying anyway, is it?

If the underlying points ratio is constant, then the delta of the W-L from what's predicted would be a random walk. Therefore, given that a team was above expectation last year, it'd be just as likely to be above as below expectation this year, yes?

The thing is, if a "fundamentally" 7-5 team goes 10-2, people don't treat it like a 7-5 team that played over its head. (Q. v. Vanderbilt, 2008, first half.) They treat it like a great team. Next year if it plays either near expectation or below expectation, everyone treats such a team like a profound disappointment. The "will to win" or "great coaching" or "mental toughness" is gone, because the random noise isn't doing what they did last year. But the team's fundamentals may not have changed.

Also, there's another reason why a team that plays above its Pyth. expectation might not regress. Its fundamental ability might have gotten better. In other words, the "7-5 team" that went 10-2 might improve by three games because of personnel, play to expectation, and go 10-2 again.

Sorry if I'm stating the obvious.