Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Get right and come back to us, Reggie.

As you might imagine, not a ton going on, even in the usually-bustling college football bloggitysphere. But there's a few Auburn newsbits that deserve some attention and/or discussion this a.m., starting with ...

Taylor to JUCO: now official. As expected, four-star defensive back signee Reggie Taylor will be going to junior college rather than enrolling at Auburn this fall. Taylor will play at Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C., the same school you may remember from such players as "Eltoro 'The Toro' Freeman" and "Demond Washington," among others. Taylor seems like a decent kid who genuinely likes Auburn, so I'll be surprised if we don't see him on the Plains in a couple of seasons. He'll be welcomed.

As for the impact up-front, well, it's pretty much nil since corner is one of the few places on the depth chart where immediate assistance isn't a necessity. In some ways--well, one way--Taylor's delayed arrival is a good thing, since Auburn (as is its custom) signed a handful of players over the limit of 25 in its 2009 class. 28, to be precise. Assuming Robert Cooper grayshirts as promised, we're now down to 26. If LaVoyd James (as is expected) doesn't qualify, Auburn's set.*

More changes in the swim program. I said not long ago that if there's one program--er, two programs--at Auburn other than football I really, really don't want screwed up, it's the swim teams. Annual national championship contenders aren't easy to come by.

So consider me not particularly happy with this development:
Auburn co-head women's swimming coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker is leaving the Plains to take the top position at Arizona State, a source close to Auburn program told the Press-Register Monday night ...

A former national champion swimmer at Texas, Tierney-Walker coached at Southern Methodist and Indiana before coming to Auburn prior to the 2006 season to supervise the women's program. She led the Tigers to women's national championships in 2006 and 2007.

Tierney-Walker and men's assistant Brett Hawke supervised the program in 2009 while head coach Richard Quick battled an inoperable brain tumor ... In a 2008 interview with the Press-Register, Quick said he wanted assurances that Tierney-Walker would stay on staff before he took over for long-time coach David Marsh in 2007.

"(The swimmers) know she cares deeply about them as human beings, and that comes across," Quick said. "These women on the team have no doubt that Dorsey cares deeply about their well-being before she cares about them as athletes."
So, to recap, Auburn has lost a coach

1. that was instrumental, if not outright responsible, for back-to-back national titles just two years ago

2. to a program to which I don't believe Tierney-Walker has any connections; upgrade in title or not, this isn't a case of Mama calling

3. in a program, championship-quality as it somehow still is, under considerable duress from Richard Quick's health issues that needs coaching stability now more than ever

4. whose presence, apparently, was one of the reasons Quick signed on in the first place--how happy will he be that she's gone?

Maybe there was nothing Auburn's athletic department--and its athletic director--could have done to prevent Tierney-Jackson from taking what appears to be an opportunity to run her own program, an opportunity she would not have (in title, at least) at Auburn as long as Quick remains in place. But after this same athletic department, and athletic director, lost David Marsh--as Will has said, only an Auburn alum and the most successful college coach in the state's history in any sport--less than two years ago, this is a pull-out-all-the-stops situation. There's too much pride in these swim programs, too much success, to allow them to deteriorate. And maybe they won't--they've proven remarkably resilient over the past few seasons.

But that they appear to be doing so in spite of its relationship with the Auburn A.D. rather than in tandem with it is ... unfortunate.

Bargain hunting? Gene Chizik is making $1.9 million a season, at least for now. Not surprising in the least--wasn't that always the range where the guesstimates of his salary landed?--but it does give us a chance to do the hard match and figure out he's making 2.053 times less tan his counterpart in T-Town. Should he manage to beat the coachbot a time or two (hey, it's a possibility), I suspect that gap will shrink with all appropriate haste. Likewise, while it's weird for Auburn's head coach to be drawing the ninth-highest salary in the SEC, a winning coach will not have the league's ninth-highest salary. I think we can probably rest assured on that point.

As for Chizik not having actually signed a contract ... eh. Maybe it's unusual for it to have taken this long for the lawyers to have hashed things out, mnaybe it's not. It shouldn't be an issue unless Chizik gets caught with a Pensacola stripper and summarily dismissed.

Etc. Fields of Donahue finds some worthwhile information tucked away in Phil Steele's offseason dross.

*Thank goodness--if Auburn ever screws up their assumptions about who's qualifying and who isn't and some kid gets handed a surprise grayshirt, you're going to get a full-on rant. Coaches who screw around with kids are the scum of the profession.

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