Monday, December 01, 2008

Still indefensible

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.


TideFaninTN said...

I got the Karate Kid (never, ever accuse me of not understanding the Kid) reference, but Kreese ordered the leg sweep as an illegal move because of the injury involved. And yes, Shooter McGavin would be more apt. Business at the T-Town Red Lobster has been booming.

TideFaninTN said...

Also, kudos for taking a stand on this. That you are a die-hard fan who is willing to see things (non-Saban related things, anyway) for what they are is why I read you.

Kenny said...

"I eat shits like you for breakfast." Shooter McGavin = Awesome!

I am not sure if this will make it to the more main stream media, but you are right. Real or perceived it definitely gives Auburn a bad name.

Sam said...

Way to fight the good fight. Bama fans thank you for your dedication to the right. The only sight in Football worse than Auburn winning ball games is kids getting hurt - regardless of who they play for.

Anonymous said...

I'm probably applying too much homer logic here, but what are the odds that he just tripped? Holiday's comment "by diving at his knee . . . from behind" doesn't make much sense. I'm no mobster, but it seems like if you have malicious intent, you'd hit the knees from the front.

Anonymous said...

Let me just put it to you this way. This issue has been blown WAY out of proportion and become a "conspiracy" to smear CTT by those who don't like him (on both sides of the fan fence). The only fact that applies here is that CTT is a STRONG CHRISTIAN man both in word and deed and you are WAY over the top for accusing him of "condoning or teaching play that could intentionally injure another team's player". If all you "chop block conspiracy theorists" are so right, then how come NO in ANY of these games agreed with you by throwing a flag?

Hobbes said...

Not sure if that's a chop. Bama player not engaged when hit low. Clip? Probably. Chop? No.

To paraphase Pat Dye, the interior line is not place for wimmin nor chillun.

Anonymous said...

It was a dirty play, but you guys rationalize it by calling Saban a bad guy. Auburn is the team with the Cheap Shot Hall of Fame on youtube.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Anon 3:18: I wish I could agree with you. But Pugh doesn't just trip and fall forward. He "rolls" as in a typical cut block, except that the guy he's cutting is facing away from him, the play is 20 yards away, and he could have very, very easily executed the block by simply running over and giving the Tide guy a shove. That, to me, is why this play is dirty: Pugh has the option to block him legally and safely, and you can see him all but make the conscious decision to block him in such a fashion as to potentially cause injury. Sorry, that's how I see it.

Anon 4:27: Who are you quoting there? Because I don't think it's me. I don't necessarily think Tubby is either teaching or even privately condoning these blocks. But that's not the point: by not issuing any kind of punishment or addressing the situation publicly, he's publicly condoning it with his silence. Whether Pugh's block was taught/encouraged by anyone on staff or not, I don't especially care, Pugh needs to be punished regardless and his position coach should be punished for being unable to (apparently) teach his charges what's a legal block and what isn't. And as for the flags, a dozen holds a game go uncalled. Line play is just tough to officiate. Tubby himself admitted the block on Dorsey should have been flagged.

Hobbes: Yes, the actual infraction on this play was a clip. I can live with clips if--as in the case of the one Ole Miss was called for against Auburn--a player is attempting to make an important cut block, screws up, and plows into someone's legs. As you and Dye point out, sh*t happens, and I still believe the original Dorsey chop is legitimately excused this way. But, again, that doesn't seem to me to be what happened in this case. I just can't see a cut into the back of someone's legs who's both standing still and facing away from the play as anything but dirty. I honestly wish I could, believe me; writing posts like this one isn't a lot of fun.

Hobbes said...

Disagree with you Jerry.

Here's what someone else had to say:

I saw that on the VS yesterday. bammerfan posted

it. Technically, it is nothing. He missed. No rules were violated. Had he

made contact, it certainly is not an illegal chop block (post and

chop) because the DL is not engaged high by the time Pugh gets there.

Had he made contact, it may have been clipping, but there is an exception

to the clipping rule along the line of scrimmage tackle to tackle (I think it is

3 yards forward and back of the neutral zone tackle to tackle, but I could be

wrong and I don't have time to look it up). I am not sure if that exception

applies, though, when, as here, the OL has retreated that deep and then runs up

to the LOS.

It does looks cheap. I will grant you that.

Of course if you broke down every play along the LOS, you'd

find worse.

I come in with a prejudice towards DL giving my former job at Auburn. I never played OL, (other than in pee wee football) but the OL is an ugly place.

The Trainman said...


You never cease to amaze.

"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."

How about something really obvious like Jon Voight in Varsity Blues? Same sport. Old white guy. Easy. For us simpletons.

Also, this post should have been after the Clemson game block. You have to know when to take off the orange and blue shades.

How many times have I read about how "We're not Alabama, and I'm glad" (or something along those lines)? I'll say this. The right side of Alabama's offensive line (Chris Capps) gave up 8 or more sacks in the 2005 Iron Bowl. How many times did they attempt to hurt someone they couldn't handle? How many?

How do you think the "coach-bot" would react? Do nothing? Riiiight.

It's great to be an Auburn Tiger.

Sullivan013 said...


I agree. There's no room on the field for this type of play, and anyone who says otherwise is just turning a blind eye to the truth. This type of action only hurts the team in the end, no matter what the outcome of the play. Allowing this to continue without taking action only worsens any discipline, morale or technique issues the linemen may have.

I have a question for those who want to dismiss this: Would you rather have the AU linemen play with good discipline, proper technique or take cheap shots whenever they think the referees aren't looking?

The first will allow for growth and adjustment as a team, and a coachable group of linemen. The second will at best draw unnecessary drive-killing penalties and at worse lead to all sorts of discipline and technique issues that will last as long as the players are allowed to act this way. It will also lead to a 'reputation' that will draw enhanced scrutiny by every officiating squad that calls our games.


Anonymous said...

Getting mad at an API player for playing dirty is like getting mad at a lion for eating a gazelle. It is what it does

Hobbes said...

You realize that clipping and blocks in the back are legal between the tackles and with three yards of the line of scrimmage. And a chop block is legal ---even a double team chop block is legal. The penalty for chop blocking is only if its a post and chop ---one player engages the Defensive player high and the other goes to his knees. That's illegal. And rarely called. Two players may chop the defensive player if both are down low and that happens more often than not on passing plays, it is what creates passing lanes.

I would urge those of you who are bothered by this youtube video to never ---and I mean never --- never---go attend a full pads practice of an SEC school especially if they're running Oklahoma drills . You would not only vomit but are likely to either stroke out or faint.

Also stay away from ESPn Classic when they're showing NFL games from the early 1970's and earlier. You will see much worse and you might even see Deacon Jones head slap someone.

The horror. The horror.

Jerry Hinnen said...

I dunno, Hobbes, I went over every play from the WVU, Ole Miss, and UGA games with a pretty fine-toothed comb and the closest thing I remember seeing to this was the aforementioned clip by Ole Miss which was a mistake (if a serious one) made during an attempt to make a play. I'm not convinced at all this happens all the time. After having Auburn smeared for the better part of two years for dirty play, I would think Auburn fans would have produced a YouTube of our guys winding up on the receiving end if it had happened.

Further, it's not the legality/illegality of it that bothers me, it's the intent from Pugh here. Pugh didn't cut the Tide guy because he was trying to block for Burns--the Tide guy wasn't pursuing or even facing Burns and if Pugh wanted to make sure he was blocked, it would have been easier and more effective to just stay on his feet. Instead, Pugh sizes him up--it's not an instinctive or reactive decision--and tries to roll up the back of his legs. I don't see any motivation for Pugh to cut him the way he did that's not malicious.

And while it's not really germane to the Pugh discussion, there's a reason they outlawed Deacon Jones's head slap.

Anonymous said...

I applaud you for seeing things the way any true fan of college football should see it. I never pray for a victory but I always pray that the players on both teams are safe. With that in mind, you can see why I cannot believe anything Tommy Tubberville says as truth, at least as long as he does nothing about things like this. That is especially when accompanied by similar tactics against LSU and Clemson.

Will this only stop when Ryan Pugh, Ziemba, et als destroy an 18 years olds career?

charles said...

The tackle box disintegrates as a play moves away from it. The tackle box does not exist 20 yards away from the ball 2-3 seconds after the play. The tackle box only last for the immediate split second after the ball is snapped...Pugh violated the clip rule plain and simple...assuming he made contact.

Anonymous said...

Even in the tackle box, clipping is only allowed above the knee. And the ball was so far gone, the play in question did NOT happen in the tackle box anyway. Regardless of either of the above points, I agree that the most important point is that the ONLY reason anybody can provide for that play is an attempt to injure.