You all remember Enrique Davis, right? Highly-coveted running back prospect, one-time Auburn commit, academic casualty, wound up at Ole Miss after dropping Auburn with a very public disavowal of the impending Tony Franklin experience. When he made waves this week by refusing to hand over ID to a policeman and getting arrested--OK, so maybe the cop overreacted to the "shunning face," but when you pull out the "crazy face," you're just asking for it--I was reminded that when all is said and done, Davis's decommitment will probably have been a good thing for Auburn.
It's actually kind of a good thing for all involved: Davis was proven more prophetic about Franklin than most of us, so you can't say he made the wrong decision. But from the Auburn perspective, my thoughts were
1. with Davis beaten out so comprehensively last year by fellow freshman Brandon Bolden, I'm not sure he'd have a place in an Auburn backfield that's already crowded and will be even crowdeder by the time the classes of 2009 and 2010 arrive
2. those Fulmer Cup points are now all Ole Miss's problem.
It's when I had that second thought that I realized: Man, it has been a long time since Auburn has earned any kind of points in the Fulmer Cup hasn't it? I couldn't even recall off-hand the last time an Auburn player got arrested, which was pretty startling given that I could remember, off-hand, specific arrests at a half-dozen other SEC schools.
But was that just selective memory, or has Auburn been genuinely better disciplined off-the-field than our SEC peers? I took a look at the all-time Fulmer Cup scoreboard and compiled the following all-time (i.e. since 2006) SEC-only Fulmer Cup standings:
Team (national ranking/total points)
1. Alabama (2/36)
2. Florida (3/35)
3. Arkansas (8/29)
4. Georgia (10/28)
5. Tennessee (11/25)
6. Mississippi St. (17/19)
7. South Carolina (22/16)
8. LSU (29/12)
9. Ole Miss (33/10)
10. Auburn (62/5)
11. Kentucky (66/4)
12. Vanderbilt (72/3)
So yes, Virginia: amongst SEC programs that take their football as seriously as they ought, Auburn has the best record of off-field discipline in the conference. It's not even close, really: Auburn's Fulmer Cup record is more similar to Kentucky's and Vandy's than 9th-ranked (and climing!) Ole Miss's. Auburn's been especially well-behaved of late, receiving no points in the 2008 Cup none thus far in the 2009 race. The only infraction serious enough to worm its way into the actual EDSBS roundups (that I can find, anyway) occurred way back in July of 2006, when Montae Pitts picked up a DUI in Tuskegee.
Some of this is, certainly, a matter of luck; I don't think anyone expected Jimmy Johns to start his own Tony Montana operation once he got to campus, and as noted Davis could just have easily broken out the shunning face for an Auburn policeman as an Oxford one. And if the evaluations of off-the-field standards are expanded to include grades and academic priorities, Tubby's deep and abiding love for non-qualifiers (amongst other factors) means Auburn has not been the league's model of excellence on that count.
But the facts are these: both Auburn's previous regime and the current one (to date, at least) have managed to avoid the kinds of players who enjoy firing off AK-47s in a parking lot or lock their girlfriends inside a house or kicking out police car windows--and hey, even Vandy can't claim that last one. The record of Auburn's coaching staffs to both recruit decent kids and find a way to keep them in line is better than the records of their peers, and Auburn's fans (yours truly included) should be much more thankful than we have been that that's the case. Consider this the JCCW's expression of gratitude.
I suspect that to fans of any other team in the SEC, this post will probably come across as unbearably holier-than-thou, but screw it: my team probably has been holier than thou's. At least until this weekend, when irony dictates that the entire starting offensive line will be involved in a gangland-style brawl at the Supper Club, or something.