Endgame. Seems a weird thing to say with UAB football and the Magic City Classic still scheduled to take place its hallowed FieldTurf this fall, but as you've no doubt heard, grand old Legion Field lost probably the biggest event on its annual schedule yesterday when the AHSAA yanked the Super Six out of Birmingham in favor of alternating years at Bryant-Denny and Jordan-Hare.
This is a good thing for Auburn, as all those visiting family dollars now wind up on the Plains every other year, and hell, maybe it even helps recruiting here and there if a kid wants to spend his college career reliving a particularly fond Super Six memory in Jordan-Hare or something. But man, I can't be happy when it's clearer than ever that there's no way back for Legion Field. Sooner or later:
Am I supposed to care? Legion Field's obviously more of a 'Bama thing than an Auburn thing. But supposed to or not I do, because more than a 'Bama thing or an Auburn thing it's a Birmingham thing. It's more than that--it's Alabama, State Of thing. When the entire state gets together for a sporting event--high school football championships, high school hoops championships, random Olympic soccer games, IRON BOWL--it's supposed to do it in Birmingham, dammit.
But it just can't happen in Legion Field. (Thank heavens the BJCC is still in good enough shape to host the hoops finals.) The stadium is a relic. Concerns about the surrounding neighborhood are ridiculously overblown in my opinion, but it doesn't much matter when half the state's convinced they'd be safer hopping in Doc Brown's DeLorean and visiting 1985 Beirut than turning off of Arkadelphia. It's over.
So what's to be done? Birmingham has to have some kind of usable stadium, doesn't it? It's Birmingham--and UAB has to have somewhere to play. Which is why (not that I'm qualified to comment on this sort of thing) I think the best solution would be UAB and the city coming together to find some halfway suitable location and building a moderately-sized (40K?) stadium that wouldn't break the bank but would still give UAB a home to be proud of and the AHSAA, U.S. Soccer, and anyone else who was interested a reason to come back.
Of course, whether that's even remotely feasible, I don't know. More likely, I guess, is that my crumbling old image of Birmingham as the state's sports center will just keep on crumbling like ... well, like Legion Field, really.
Spring stuff. Nothing too big has broken in the last couple of days, but Boulware did confirm that Auburn will be switching to that spread punt formation that's been all the rage the last couple of years. Just no blocks, please: seeing defenders come blazing through only to be stopped by one of those three blockers just in front of the punter has always given me minor heart attacks, and that's not even with Auburn having done it that way.
Elsewhere, we get a little bit more of what Gene Chizik really thinks about Andrew McCain:
"He's trying to really do what we ask him to do. I'm really proud of him for that," Chizik said. "Obviously, he's got to get better. He needs every day in pads he can get, even though he's an older guy."Emphasis mine, because Damn. I know Chizik could probably say that about 3/4s of the team, but it's still a little surprising to hear him actually say it say it, you know? Meanwhile, the debate over whether Mario Fannin will be a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none or just delightfully versatile continues (my cynical ass is expecting Fannin to all-but-disappear whenever he's not playing tailback, FWIW) and if you care about the fine-print details of assistant coaching salaries, the last few have become public.
Counting our blessings. Hey, do you know what Auburn's signees ... players, coaches, managers, etc. ... haven't done? Get arrested Sunday on "two felony charges of lewd and lascivious battery." North Carolina, as it turns out, can't say the same. (HT: Dr. S.) And hey, do you know what hasn't happened to Auburn this spring practice thus far KNOCK ON EVERY PIECE OF WOOD WITHIN REACH? They haven't suffered a season-ending injury at one of the thinnest positions on the roster. Georgia? Not so lucky.
So consider this a brief note of gratitude that
1) our coaching staffs, both Tubby's and Chizik's, have managed though a combination of shrewd character judgment and a little luck to avoid burdening our football team with brass-knuckle totin', drug-dealin', machine gun-firin' criminals
2) no season-ending injuries thus far KNOCK THE HELL OUT OF SOME WOOD FOR GOD'S SAKE.
Krootin'. Updates here and here. You'll enjoy them.
BlAUgosphere. In the process of kicking off a countdown of 10 reasons to go to A-Day (who needs 10?), Somewhere in Section 25 coins the perfect word for my Kool-Aid-flavored flickers of offseason optimism:
Jordan-Hare Stadium is filled with more hopeyness than a hundred Obama campaign stops.Hopeyness! That's it! Ask me how I feel about the Chizik Era, and I'll tell you that I'm still in wait-and-see mode, but that I've also got a lot of hopeyness. (The rest of SIS25's post is a nice quick look back at J-Hare's recent history as a place favorites go to die. Click over.)
Elsewhere, Acid's excellent series on Tubby's Greatest Games continues with a look at the 2006 win over Florida--giving Acid an excuse to deservedly praise kickoff specialist extraordinaire Matt Clark, and giving me an excuse to link to this awesome bit of celebration from the Auburner; speaking of which, Mark's wondering if the Chizik dress code is a sop for discipline-thirsty fans that's going unenforced inside the athletic complex (as an aside, I would also buy some "Arthur Gustav Malzahn commemorative stamps"); and the Pigskin Pathos has a quote from an anonymous Auburn football player you should probably read.
Etc. DeWanna Bonner goes fifth in the WNBA Draft, to Phoenix ... and though you've already seen this at EDSBS, at least one stats-based blogger believes that Auburn and Tennessee weren't nearly as bad last year as you've been led to believe. Which .... um.