Friday, January 16, 2009

The Works gets off easy

If not for you, Jerraud ...

This could be worse. So the deadline for draft-declaring, as you know, has come and passed. Looking at the overall SEC departure list, Auburn could have fared a little bit better. Powers's decision in particular, though I certainly respect it and find it self-serving for any coach or fan to blame a kid for choosing a nonzero income over zero, is one you really wish had gone the other direction. The Jerraud Powerses at Florida and Ole Miss stayed put, and in general there seemed to be a lot fewer head-scratching choices in the SEC in general. You could make a case that Powers would be in the running for the most head-scratching of them all, given that Glen Coffee doesn't have a lock on the Tide's starting job and that the Gamecock trio have pretty well proven themselves at this level.

But the bottom line is that given that Auburn just went through a divisive coaching change, things could be so much worse. For starters, we could be South Carolina; even if it makes some modicum of sense for Cook, Munnerlyn, and Cook to depart Spurrier's sinking ship, losing all three is a savage blow for a program that already looks like its one shot at disrupting the UGA/UF/UT hegemony went by in that blur of a losing streak to end 2007. Secondly, as much as losing Marks and Powers hurts, losing a difference-maker like Coleman at a position where Auburn is thinner than either DT or corner would have been even worse--and Coleman was probably the one of the three who had the most to gain from leaving.

And thirdly, here's something else to consider: the window for players to transfer before spring practice has pretty much shut. Yes, Auburn lost our perennially disappointing backup middle linebacker, one of our bushel of underachieving wide receivers, a hobbled defensive end, and a random scrub defensive back. But none of those guys projected to start and only one of them had any impact at all over the back half of last season. And they're all Auburn's lost. Would anyone have blamed someone like Neil Caudle for looking elsewhere? Another one of the wideouts, who might not want to leave for somewhere he might stand out more than he will in Auburn's ever-widening glut of bodies at the position? Ryan "Back-up to the walk-on soccer player" Shoemaker? Any number of other players who felt particularly attached to the popular former head coach?

We're not out of the woods yet, but all in all it looks from here like Auburn's offseason level of attrition is going to be better than we might have hoped back in those dark days of the coaching search.

That said, that's not to say we don't have depth problems. The Anniston Star's Luke Brietzke is taking a useful look at Auburn's depth chart, starting with the quarterbacks and going on to the offensive line. I could have done without a reminder of this, though:
Remember, the Tigers didn't have any true freshman scholarship linemen last year because Jermaine Johnson couldn't qualify academically.
On top of that, there's only three linemen in the current class, none of them rated particularly highly and one of them (Tyler Knight) remaining the only two-star in the bunch according to Rivals. (Though at least Aaron Moore is thought more highly of now than when Google surveyed him up ... well, again, according to Rivals.) In other words: if there really is any recruiting magic to be worked on the parts of Messrs. Malzahn, Taylor, Luper, and Chizik, it would be delightful if it was put to use shoring up the o-line. Despite Brietzke's warnings, I think the depth will be OK in 2009 barring an injury plague KNOCK ON THE BIGGEST PIECE OF WOOD YOU CAN FIND but after that, it looks awfully dicey. Just because Auburn sort of got away starting three true freshmen in 2007 doesn't mean I'd like to make a habit of it.

Speaking of recruiting: This weekend is huge, apparently. That's about all the free info that's worth reporting at the moment, but I'll cop to being interested in seeing if anything develops over the weekend or early next week.

Perhaps the bigger piece of immediate news is that Chizik got his first new commitment, from Gordo athlete Izauea Lanier. In addition to an awesome first name that I can't wait to hear Rod Bramlett and/or Andy Burcham pronounce, Lanier is another low-rated prospect that I'd sure provoked he usual Bama cackling and Auburn wailing, lather, rinse, repeat. But if the guy really had Kentucky and Mississippi State offers, as has been reported, obviously it's not like we've offered a guy who's only other D-I offer was Duke. Because we all know how badly that turns out.

More worthwhile reading on the subject comes from this Blackmon retrospective at Dawgsports, which reminds us that if Tubby and crew were outstanding in their ability to identify lower-rated gems on the recruiting trail, like everyone else they suffered the occasional high-profile whiff, too.

One more link on the recruiting front: do check out this Auburn Undercover story on Onterio McCalebb from last September, which is inexplicably not behind the paywall. Quality stuff.

Coachwatch. Chizik's still not quite done with his staff, of course, though it appears the offensive line coach search is wrapping up. Your two remaining candidates are the aforementioned Steve Campbell and J.B. Grimes, who's coached offensive linemen for Mississippi State the last five years. Who gets the job and who'd do the better job is pure unadulterated guesswork from this perspective, but if you put a gun to the head of the pissant Auburn Blogger and force him to choose, I choose the guy with the no-huddle and D-II national championship head coaching experience, thankyouverymuch.

Also, the Huntsville Times had a brief article on Malzahn that's kinda worth reading. Just don't expect anything revelatory.

BlAUgosphere. Acid Reign's series on Tubby's greatest games continues with the 2002 upset of LSU that sparked the closing run to 2003's preseason fawning. It's hard to remember that a season that finished one Georgia miracle play away from Atlanta started off so bleakly. Go read it.

The Pigskin Pathos was in the house for the hoops loss to Florida and got the same sense of deja vu we all got, particularly regarding the final agonizing minutes:
The game clock breaks five minutes. Every Auburn player forgets how to guard. Players fall down. Stupid fouls and turnovers are committed. The chance of a free throw being made has fallen below 25 percent. Fans are cursing and asking the gods vague, unanswerable questions.
"Players fall down": I lol'd. While we're on the subject of basketball, but on a more positive bent, Joe Ciampi took the time to talk about what it's like to win a gazillion games in a row to start the season, because he would know.

Elsewhere, Dr. Saturday declares Auburn the most disappointing team in the country--I think Clemson's championship drought and "this is the year, finally, it has to be" desperation pushes the honor in their direction, but Auburn's obviously put together a convincing argument, hooray--and Blutarsky responds to yesterday's playoff proposal. (For the record: a 16-team playoff would suck the suck of the ancients. But I remain unconvinced a four-team bracket wedged between the regular season and the bowls would face inevitable expansion, for the reasons outlined yesterday.)

Gymnastics smack talk. I can't believe I'm bringing up the 'Bama-Auburn meet again, but when the assistant coaches are bringing the heat like this ...
“We were the better team, and anybody who was in the Coliseum and saw the meet knows that Auburn was the better team tonight,” said assistant head coach Rachelle Thompson.
... man, that kind of ballsiness has to be acknowledged.

Aaaaaaaand finally ... do you like funny YouTube videos of soccer referees? A bunch of them? You should, so click here.

1 comment:

JayAU'92 said...

JCCW link on article (IOW the journalists w/paid gigs are leaching unfairly off your work). Congrats for the recognition.