Tons o' stuff. Hoo boy, do I feel like I shouldn't feel like there's a bunch of worthwhile news coming out of yesterday's, um ... second spring practice, in shorts. A bunch of worthwhile news shouldn't really come out of that, should it? But when we've gone without for a month, I guess this is what happens.
So, stuff I think is worth noticing:
1. The big theme of the day is that Chizik's cracking down on the scourge of baseball caps that ruined last season. You remember when Chris Todd wore a little silver chain around his neck and it caused his arm to fall off? Not a problem this year.
I'll be frank here: as someone who functions at my best when surrounded by a certain level of clutter and wearing clothes of a certain level of casualness, this kind of Type-A anality (analness? you know what, let's move on) makes my skin crawl. I'd be asking the same question Evan Woodbery asked of Lee Ziemba:
Does all this stuff really help you win football games?Of course, the reason you might want a coach who believes it does is because Ziemba responded like so:
"Definitely."As long as the players are buying in and see Chizik's attention to detail as evidence of how strong a leader he is instead of an unecessary burden, we're good.
2. Man, does Ziemba sound like a much happier camper. I would think being told to put on weight rather than take it off would always be good for a lineman's mood, but getting past this little issue ...
The Arkansas native couldn't bend the joint properly, which is a terminal issue for an offensive tackle. Lateral movement was hindered. Ziemba felt pain each time he pushed against an opponent.... has to be a weight off, too. (For the record: I also wish Ziemba had had surgery. Playing through pain is one thing. Doing it in the name of a season that was clearly lost as soon as the gun blew on the Arkansas game was ... well, Ziemba uses the word "tough," and that seems appropriate.)
A team official pitched the idea of a season-ending procedure to remedy the issue. Treatment and rehabilitation weren't enough. Ziemba instead chose to play through the pain.
"I had the opportunity to have surgery then, but I didn't," he said. "It was tough. I made it through, I guess."
Asked if he regretted that decision, Ziemba stumbled.
"I'm not going to comment on that," he said.
3. Hello: Mike Slade is running with the first team ahead of Mike McNeil, at least for a day.
4. Back to the linemen: if Malzahn wants them bulking up, it helps explain why John Sullen got his offer and why they were chasing Audrey Phillips, huh?
5. Oh man, poor Chris Todd. I'm glad he got a well-written, sympathetic article, because I have this nagging feeling we're not going to hear a lot more from him unless that shoulder recovers like it's made of whatever bionic shoulders are made of. But even then: having to go through all of spring practice in front of a completely new staff without even throwing a football? Tough row to hoe, buddy.
6. Lots of interesting stuff from Tommy Thigpen, starting with this:
"When was Auburn good? When we controlled two states: Alabama and Georgia. If we get those two states -- that's my main concentration -- then we won't have to go outside of that. I do Pahokee, the glades, Ft. Lauderdale. I'm going to recruit it, but I'm hoping we don't make it that far."Word. He also made pretty clear who we've got to thank for his services: none other than Mack Brown, who as it turns out remains a big Gene Chizik fan. Bully for us. More on how the Lolley/Thigpen tag-team in the secondary is working out here, via the OA-News.
7. Lots of juicy tidbits from Jay Tate here, with the most reassuring one from my point-of-view being Chizik's hands-on approach to special teams. Yes, we'll need those. Also: Tate has been generally high on Neil Caudle's new-and-improved outlook under the new staff and said he threw better than either Burns or Trotter. Nothing major, but something to keep an eye on, certainly.
8. Tracy Rocker really did not sound happy about this unit's work on Day 1. Probably nothing, and maybe it's even a positive since we got the term "microwave process" out of it.
9. Andre Wadley isn't back yet and may be on the Brent Slusher express train to medical scholarship land.
8. Who needs school? Philip Lutzenkirchen and two recruits were in attendance at the practice Thursday, allegedly.
9. And lastly, an intriguing quote from Andrew McCain (who, as expected, is running with the first team o-line at right tackle): "The chaos is much more controlled." Compared to who or what, pray tell, Andrew?
Update. As of right now, all the chess pieces on the giant chess board that is the college basketball coaching world are still in place. Gillispie's still at Kentucky, Grant still hasn't said yes to Alabama, Billy Donovan hasn't deigned to say he wouldn't listen to the 'Cats if they asked. But this equilibrium isn't going to last: when someone as connected to UK athletics as Pat Forde goes on record on ESPN as saying Gillispie's a goner, it's very, very likely he's a goner. No surprise Grant's willing to wait it out, then. Very soon--as in when Kentucky moves--the ball will likely be back in 'Bama's court: do they wait on Grant in the hopes Donovan stays put in Gainesville, or pray that Mike Anderson (last seen absolutely schooling John Calipari, as you know) won't get too attached to Missouri during this potential Final Four run, or try a third party (a commenter yesterday suggested Tim Floyd)? And what will Georgia--also very likely to be in the running for Anderson if he's willing to move, and Paul Westerdawg points out the cash suggests he will be--be able to pull off in the middle of this madness? Bottom line: this should be fun. Unless the Tide ends up with Anderson. That will be less fun.
Also from the world of hoops coaching changes: Auburn assistant John Cooper will be the new head coach at Tennessee State. Congratulations and best of luck to Cooper, who's getting an explosive but erratic team at TSU.
Swim, baby, swim. The Auburn men are second after the first day (of three) of competition at the NCAA Championships. Matt Targett blew past some fool on the way to getting Auburn a win in the 200 freestyle relay, Auburn's eighth win in the event in 12 years. All together now: Aussie aussie aussie! Oy oy oy!
Crystal ballin'. Woodbery goes over the probable 2009-2010 Auburn basketball roster (always just "probable" with this program, right?) and concludes:
Bottom line: If all goes well for the next few months, Lebo will bring back a deep, veteran team. Finding new sources for Barber's lost production might determine how successful the season will be.Agreed. Essentially, Auburn will be trading some of their experience underneath for experience on the perimeter, with a little more size added in for good measure. The key dudes to me seems to be Hargrove and 6-8 JUCO forward Kenny Gabriel: if they can pick up just a little of the rebounding/post-scoring slack left behind by Barber, Auburn should be OK. I think.
"I Think, Therefore, War Eagle." That's the name of this quick, and, yes, satisfying blast of nostalgia from Guaranteed to Satisfy. This struck a little close to home:
Running through the ampitheater, you felt transformed to an older version of yourself. You always claimed Pat Sullivan or Bo Jackson in the pick up football games with the other kids. And if you really wanted to show off, you'd go with Terry Beasley, or Tucker Fredrickson. The other kids would stare and ask 'who's that?', and you knew then you were the smartest one in the game. In the absence of being the most athletic, being the smartest sufficed.Man, even I don't know if I ever busted out "Tucker Frederickson." Tommie Agee was about as obscure as I got.
Etc. Auburn might actually have a shot at 2010 running back superstud Lache Seastrunk; if we snag both him and Tremendous Campbell-Scott, we can fill out the rest with 1.5-stars for all I care ... Braves and Birds wonders if Duke is really such a big deal any more, and the answer is "no."
Enjoy your weekend.