Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Sunshine Signing Day

How did I not figure out that this is the Official JCCW Offseason Theme Music until now?

Anyway, more not particularly organized thoughts on the events of this morning:

Worth repeating: As I've said before and will say again: all Gene Chizik needed to do to have a successful recruiting class was to hold intact what Tubby had already put together. Maybe he didn't score 100 percent on that particular test--good luck, Ray Cotton, good-bye, LaDarius Perkins--but that doesn't change the fact that aside from the academically-questionable Brandon Heavens, Auburn didn't have a single decommitment today. For all of the hubbub surrounding his departure, not one player decommitted as a result of James Willis leaving. For all of the "meh" reaction in many quarters to Ted Roof's hiring, not one previously-committed defensive player decided they couldn't play for him. There was a crack here and there, but Tubby's class stayed upright. We can still call it "intact." That after everything--after the uproar over the Chizik hire and the Barkley firestorm and the Willis departure and an entirely new and still incomplete staff--we got the class Tubby visualized and a whole lotta gravy on top of it is a remarkable accomplishment.

I'm not just saying, I'm just saying. In 2008, with the recruiting year having started with a 11-2 season and continued through a 9-4 season and a bowl win, Tommy Tuberville's recruiting class was ranked 20th by Rivals and 18th by Scout. Their average star ratings were 3.03 and 2.93, respectively. In 2009, after taking over in late December and with the team having gone 5-7 this year, Gene Chizik's first class is ranked 17th and 14th, with averages of 3.21 and 3.07.

(So here's a note for all you Auburn fans convinced Rivals has some vendetta against our team: this is two straight years they've ranked Auburn's players more highly, on average, than Scout. The reason Scout ranks the class higher as a team isn't because they actually think the players are better, it's because their team rankings place a much higher priority--too high a priority, it seems to me--on the collecting of assorted bodies rather than the quality of those bodies. Unless you really think we just signed a better class than Florida did.)

This shouldn't be a problem any longer. It's possible--probable, even, depending on how you read the tea leaves--that Tyrik Rollison will not qualify, and may commit elsewhere after a year at prep school. It's possible DeAngelo Benton does not really have his academics in order and will likewise never arrive at Auburn. It's possible that Emory Blake is a bust, possible that Dontae Aycock wasn't worth the effort, possible that David Oku either will not sign or will not be as good as advertised.

What is not possible after seeing how these recruits have responded to Auburn's current offensive staff is that Auburn will remain deficient at the skill positions, at least as long as this staff is intact. God bless Brandon Cox, Ben Tate, and Rod Smith. Bless them forever. But as long as Gus Malzahn, Trooper Taylor, and Curtis Luper are at Auburn, players like them are not going to be our quarterback, leading rusher, or leading receiver. Maybe not in 2009, maybe not yet, but explosiveness is going to come back to our offense sooner or later. And hey, maybe Rollison qualifies and Benton and Blake are the real deal and McCalebb and Oku run wild, and the answer's "sooner."

Room for improvement. Without question, Scarbinksy's selling Chizik and crew short in this piece on Alabama's domination of in-state recruiting. Given the impossible situation Chizik found himself in, he's obviously done a hell of a job, in-state or out. Nonetheless, K-Scar's basic point is correct: Auburn needs to do better job in-state. Much better. Alabama getting the majority of top-shelf recruits ... that I can live with. The state has more Alabama fans than Auburn fans. So it goes. But the clean sweeps ... those have to change. Next year, Auburn needs to pick off one or two of the Nico Johnsons or Tana Patricks or A.J. McCarrons or Kendall Kellys. As I've said, Auburn doesn't have to out-recruit the Tide, but it has to stay within striking distance. No better way to do that than to break up the two-year monopoly on the state's elite talent, and aside from the obvious, gaping need for offensive linemen, it's the No. 1 goal for Auburn's 2010 class.

Not sure what to make of this. I haven't been following recruiting all that closely for all that long, but it strikes me as a little odd how little consensus there is between the two major services on so many of Auburn's recruits. McCalebb, Rollison, and Lutzenkirchen are the only Auburn signees to receive four stars (or better) from both--even Benton is only a three-star to Scout. But that doesn't mean there aren't a goodly number of four-stars as ranked by one or the other: Rivals likes Benton, Paige, Blake, Aycock, Taylor, and Travis; Scout prefers Freeman, Washington, Fairley, Ford, and Coleman. So in one sense, Auburn's pulled in 14 four-stars; in another sense, they've only got three. And that confusion's not even getting into the fact that ESPN loves Stallworth and James, who both mainline services ignore.

Again, I'm not sure what that means--is this a class that's better than it's ranked, because there are so many players that have star potential as recognized by someone? Or is it worse than it's ranked, because there are so few sure things? What the hell, I'm going to believe the former.

Seriously, I hope Jeff Grimes goes out and starts recruiting next year's offensive line class, like, tomorrow. Seriously.

OK, I'm off to wash the stink of perviness off of me. Tomorrow we'll break down the class and its potential impact unit-by-unit, and then finally--FINALLY--we'll start talking about something else. Like, um ... wait what are we going to talk about?


jd said...

ELO rulz. Just like the Chiz.

Sullivan013 said...

I'm sure it's just a matter of personal taste. No offense to ELO, but for me the Allman Brother's "Blue Sky" is a better fit for moment:

"Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing,
It dont worry bout where its going, no, no.

Dont fly, mister blue bird, Im just walking down the road,
Early morning sunshine tell me all I need to know

Youre my blue sky, youre my sunny day.
Lord, you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way,
Turn your love my way, yeah."

Side note: If there is better 'road trip' music for driving through the South than the Allman Brothers, I haven't heard it. "Eat a Peach" can take me from Carolina to Florida in a such a way that I begin to regret reaching my destination.

Lynyrd Skynyrd's Second Helping is a close second. Maybe we can talk about Southern Rock bands of the 70's?