One the mic. Yesterday was a big day for Auburn coaches getting their comment on. Ray Melick tossed up a column on Chizik's appearance at the Birmingham Rotary and both Roof and Taylor met with beat reporters. Reactions:
--The biggest news was very likely Taylor's firm assertion that Deangelo Benton will indeed be eligible this fall. Saying it's "already done" ... well, there's not much wiggle room in that, is there? That ... that's huge, man, assuming Benton's still the same player he was a couple years back. Taylor doesn't seem to think that's going to be a problem:
"He was a play-maker and I can tell you this: You don't go to sleep a circle and wake up a square," Taylor said. "If he could play ball, he can play ball. That's the one thing I saw in the kid...But he's still got to come in and prove it."
--Which brings me to my next point ... Taylor's one hell of a quote, isn't he? There's the circle/square bit above, there's this one from Tate:
On how difficult recruiting was: "I used to have an afro."I suppose I shouldn't read too much into one casual meet-and-greet with the press, but Taylor comes across as every bit as clever, gregarious, and straightforward as he was made out to be. Add that to very excitable gentleman we've seen on the Vol and Cowboy sidelines the past couple of years, and it's no wonder the kids dig him.
--Taylor said he was "stealing" Malzahn's schemes anyway, so now he'll get a chance to learn them first-hand. Helps explain just that little bit more how Auburn landed him.
--Luper is the recruiting coordinator, for whatever that's worth. Can't say it matters much to me who lays out the plan of attack for recruiting so long as it works.
--Taylor wants to be a head coach within five years. Good. If you're hiring position coaches who have no immediate interest in moving up the ladder ... well, you're probably hiring Steve Ensminger.
--Chizik's "I've never failed" comments are, obviously, a little over the top for a guy coming off of a 2-10 season. But who cares. As long as he's talking about himself rather than the SEC's other coaches (unlike certain other new hires I can think of), I could care less. If he didn't have at least a little cockiness about him, I'd be worried.
--Roof essentially said he was planning on simplifying what he'd tried to pull off at Minnesota, because in "(t)his league, you don't trick people. You have to out-hit people. There won't be much tricking going on." On the one hand, not trying to reinvent the wheel his first year at Auburn is probably a good thing. On the other, what he did at Minnesota worked like gangbusters. Why would he change that approach? Just do what you know, man. It's all good.
--Roof also mentioned that Demond Washington will be an offensive player. A little surprising, frankly, given that he'd most likely play the slot on offense and that's a position that seems to be pretty well-staffed already ... but I am, obviously, not quite as well-informed on these matters as the Auburn coaching staff.
Notice anything missing? Aside from a brief tangent reported by Tate in which Taylor seems to be less-than-approving of kids who sign after Signing Day, all remains quiet on the David Oku front. He may be looking at Nebraska, but that seems to be all we know.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend I don't want the kid to come to Auburn--if the odds of one of the current 2009 RBs breaking out in the next couple of seasons is 75 percent, bringing in Oku raises the odds to like 95 percent, it would seem--but honestly, I'm not too terribly worried. We have McCalebb. We have Aycock. We have Jacobs. Auburn's got to have one kid already fail to qualify to come in under the 25-a-class limit, and Oku would make two. That's probably not an issue and, again, there aren't really negatives to bringing in a player of Oku's caliber. But the longer this drags on, the less important I feel it is for Auburn to reel him in. I hope Auburn does. But it's not going to be the tragedy it might have been made out to be a few weeks ago if Oku decides to go elsewhere.
Ignore function off, temporarily. As Holly said the other day: If Paul Finebaum is on one side of an argument and Matt Hinton's on the other, you really, really need ought to be on the side of ... well, "all that is good and right in this world" would be one way of putting it. Like this guy, who helpfully fisks the delightful hell out of Finebaum's "Fire Kiffin" column. (Link courtesy WRAS.) Two points I feel the need to make:
1) Of course Kiffin shouldn't let himself run off at the mouth quite so much as he's done to date--even I've taken the time to say as much--but there's not one thing he can say short of "I'm paying players" that's going to matter as much to the Vols' actual chances of success as signing a guy like Janzen Jackson away from LSU. Hot air is still, at the end of the day, just hot air. Jackson is a five-star building block for the Vols' defense in 2009 and beyond. It's not just Finebaum that's made way, way too much out of Kiffykins' comments--again, big deal or not, he never should have been so dumb--but the bottom line is that thanks a couple of similar recruiting coups, the successes of Kiffin's very brief tenure far outweigh whatever failures he's endured in the arena of public speaking. (Damn Finebaum forever for forcing me to defend this twerp.)
2) Seriously: if an Alabama blogger had posted with a straight face last week that Tennessee should fire Kiffin immediately, they'd have been laughed off as a sensationalist wacko. If an Alabama fan had visited a Tennessee blog or message board and posted the same, they'd have been summarily dismissed as a worthless troll. But when the most recognized media member in the state of Alabama writes the same in the Mobile Press-Register, the response is "Wow, Kiffin's really feeling the heat!" Remember this the next time some crusty old newspaper dog claims that standards are so much higher in print than on the Interwebs. When it comes to commentary, at least amongst readers with a functioning brain stem, Finebaum proves that in fact the exact opposite is true. Web writers have to make some kind of sense or they get ignored. Newspaper columnists can clearly write any fool thing they want and have a long and successful career.
Now for the other side of the coin. Via Blutarsky, a Kiffin quote from his SI article:
“I could’ve gone to places like Oregon and Michigan and found great coaches to hire, but that’s only addition to us,” he explains. “By finding them at SEC schools and taking them away, that’s addition by subtraction.”Sorry, Kiffykins, but this isn't what "addition by subtraction" means. That phrase is used to mean a sports team or business (like Dunder-Mifflin!) that improves solely by removing non-functional players or employees, without adding any new players or employees. What you're describing is more just plain "addition," with a little added bonus left over, like a four-point swing in hoops when a guy misses a lay-up on one end that leads to a basket on the other. Try again.
Etc. Pigskin Pathos notes that Segways are on the loose at Auburn ... Lifetime of Defeats has some suggestions for a new pregame tune at J-Hare ... and nobody does posts that ought to come with a "Fake Livejournal" tag better than Doug, particularly when it's Valentine's Day.
OK, I wanted to get something mid-majorrific up today, but there are Things To Do this afternoon and it'll have to wait 'til the weekend. Enjoy yours.