I can't believe we're here again. I just can't.
As I said after the Clemson game: there is no defending this. It can't be done. There is no legitimate rationalization, no explaining away, no excuse.
Ryan Pugh* sizes up a Tide lineman getting up off the ground and dives into the back of his legs. If Pugh wanted him blocked, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to run over and give him a shove. He doesn't. It's as filthy a play as you can see on a football field. Whatever condemnatory adjective you'd like to use here--unacceptable, inexcusable, unjustifiable, reprehensible--is appropriate. To borrow a phrase from election season, the JCCW rejects and denounces this kind of filth. There's no place for it at Auburn.
Or at least, there shouldn't be. God forgive me, but if Tubby remains quiet and/or ambivalent in response to this incident, I swear I'm going to end up agreeing with Pete freaking Holiday. My requests are the same as they were after the Chick-Fil-A Bowl: a public apology. A clear, concise statement that affirms that Auburn football will not be party to attempts to injure opposing players. A multiple-game suspension for Pugh, as would be appropriate if he'd been caught choking or punching another player in the balls. If Hugh Nall is retained--and consider me more hopeful than ever he is not--a suspension for him as well.
Over the top? Perhaps. But the play was over-the-top. It requires an over-the-top response. I'm begging you, Tubby: show us that this matters to you. I'm beggingyou, Auburn: STOP DOING THIS. I'm going to root for you regardless. I don't have a choice in the matter. I don't want to root for a dirty team. Please, please: keep yourselves clean next year.
(A vaguely related aside: in my Hate Week post on Saban, I wrote that "the 2008 Iron Bowl might not be a movie. But is there any doubt that if it was, Nick Saban would be on the sidelines, telling his charges to Sweep the Leg?" This was not, as has been suggested elsewhere, intended to imply that Saban would order his players to injure Auburn's. "Sweep the leg"--I can't believe I'm explaining this, don't you people read Bill Simmons?--is a reference to an obscure '80s movie named "The Karate Kid." My point was that if one of the two coaches from the Iron Bowl is going to play the role of the hyperserious win-at-all-costs villain from a kids' sports movie, that coach would be Saban, and I stand by that. Given Auburn's history here, perhaps I could have been a little more sensitive with my choice of movie villain reference--come to think of it, Saban's kind of Shooter McGavin-esque, maybe I should have gone in that direction--but assuming I meant anything about actual legs being swept is reading way, way too much into it.)
*It's a white guy playing right tackle, so I'm assuming this is Pugh. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.