Thursday, May 28, 2009

Two random musings on the Auburn quarterbacking situation

1. Commenter Marcus's recent, uh, comment revealing that Brandon Cox was a bona fide recruiting stud once upon a time--check it, we're talking a top-10 position ranking, four stars, offers from Saban's LSU and Spurrier's Florida--got me to thinking about our former Jekyll-and-Hyde poised field general/frightened rabbit. And after a bit, specifically, it got me to thinking: We deserve this.

By "this," I mean, a quarterback situation--hopeful as I remain about it--where the options are a career 50.7 percent passer with a 7-to-2 INT-to-TD ratio last season; a career third-stringer in his fourth year in the program who's never taken a meaningful snap; and two true freshmen. Particularly given what Malzahn could do with a quarterback as accurate as Cox could be on occasion, I doubt there's an Auburn fan alive who wouldn't take Cox in a heartbeat, warts (great big giant heart-stopping warts, yes) and all, over the current situation.

Here's where the irony kicks in: remember when many, many Auburn fans wouldn't have taken Cox in a lifetime of heartbeats? Remember when Cox took the field against Mississippi St. and nearly got booed right back off it? He took the field that day as a senior, as a quarterback with a 21-6 record as a starter, as a player who had fought through various off-field difficulties and a degenerative muscle condition for the right to take the field in his home stadium, as a player as devoted to Auburn football as any player can be. And Auburn "fans" booed him. Booed the hell out of him.

So if Burns and/or Caudle and/or Rollison struggle this fall and we all end up riding the quarterback carousel, I'm going to try not to complain. When your team's fans tell football karma they're tired of having Brandon Cox for a quarterback and have to have something else, you know football karma's only going to be all to happy to oblige for as long as it can.

2. I've raised the possibility before that if Caudle is named the preseason starter, Burns could conceivably bolt. This is total, complete, utter, wholehearted, absolute idle speculation on my part, based on nothing more than the frustration that must have built up over Burns's star-crossed tenure-to-date on the Plains and the knowledge that a college football career is a very brief thing indeed ... and that not many players with Burns's professional-grade physical potential willingly spend theirs on the bench.

So while I don't like speculating about it--unless Rollison is every single bit as good as advertised, losing Burns would be a massive blow--there's precedent. In fact, we got a little more precedent this very week, as Justin Roper decided to transfer out of Oregon immediately upon learning he's lost the battle to be the Ducks' starting QB. There are some vague similarities between Roper and Burns--both were recruited under previous regimes for vastly different offensive systems, both have their career highlighted by a big bowl victory, both started last year as the favorite to earn the job only to fall behind when they suffered an early-season injury.

We're still light years away from any of this actually coming to fruition--Burns's experience and athleticism means he remains the favorite to retain the starting position (that's my guess, anyway), and again, even if Caudle is named the starter, it's not like Burns has ever hinted that he'd take the nuclear option rather than just doing his best to reclaim the job. But as the competition heads into summer workouts, I think it's worthwhile for us to understand exactly how high the stakes are for both the competitors and the team. And as long as a Burns transfer is somewhere on the table--and it very likely is--those stakes are goingto be a little bit higher than they would be otherwise.


Marcus said...

Karma spared us in 2004. I was at the first game (vs. LaMo I think) and remember Campbell being booed after a pick, and, ironically enough, yells from a few seats down to put Cox in!!!!!
How funny is that?
I'm with you all the way though. Those fans that would do something as stupid as boo any member of the team deserve a few humiliating losses... I just wish the rest of us didn't have to suffer with them.

Sammy34 said...

I was sickened to the point of almost vomiting when Auburn fans booed Brandon Cox as he came out onto the field. It is the only recollection I have of truly being fighting mad at an Auburn football game. I told one guy to shut up (paraphrasing), and ended up in an argument. This guy said that since he paid money to get in the game it was his right to boo whomever he wanted to. I told him just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean you should be a soulless, classless, asshole.

Oh well, it doesn't matter now anyway. Brandon Cox showed glimmers of hope but never could overcome a couple of off the field obstacles. Hopefully Burns will step up and be the man, but whoever gives Auburn the best chance of winning is the one I want out there.

Philip Arnold said...

I never boo'd Brandon Cox during my last year at Auburn (2005) but I certainly cursed his name, constantly. I can't count the number of times I would yell expletive after expletive at my tv as I watched the pocket collapse around Cox as he just stood there waiting for a receiver to become magically open so he could throw it to the oppossing player. During last season there was a moment where I wanted Cox back on the field just to see some kind of competence, sigh...

jrsuicide said...

i think its time to put out my "I Miss My Rag Armed QB Who Could Beat Alabama" tshirts.

Justin said...

I don't understand how everyone unanimously give Burns the physical edge. He's bigger and has a slightly stronger arm, but Caudle is faster in the 40 and seems just as agile when he has the ball.
Am I just crazy here or what?

I will say this though, Burns reminds me all to often of a 2003 Jason Campbell but faster.

Anyone remember how Campbell would overthrow people by a mile that were wide open on a sideline hook route?
yeah...then 2004 happened

I'm with sammy in wanting the best kid for the job out there, but *I* think Caudle is right there with Burns right now.

The Pigskin Pathos said...

I miss me some Brandon Cox. I did my darndest to defend him from haters. Up to and including punching my friend in the arm when he started booing during the Miss. State game. I believed.

james said...

I know this is off subject but a friend emailed me this and I thought it was hilarious.

jrsuicide said...

cox nostalgia? we are in dark times. i'll always love Brandon for keeping the Bama streak alive and for the 4th and forever pass against the Dawgs...but dude wasnt a very a good qb other than his sophomore season. as the talent around him dwindled, so did his ability to do anything but get sacked and throw a pick.

David said...

Don't you mean "I Miss My Rag-Armed QB Who Could Beat Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Clemson, Kansas State, and Washington State?"

Say what you will about Cox's talent or his record, you can't doubt his heart. Strenuous exercise shortened his lifespan, and he walked out on the field and played for Auburn anyway. He was booed on multiple occasions, and he walked out on the field and played for Auburn anyway. He didn't turn his back on Auburn when the Auburn faithful turned their backs on him. He showed that he's a better man than a lot of the people who came to watch him play, and I hope that we as Auburn fans don't forget that.

Sammy34 said...

Amen David!