Friday, May 29, 2009

The Works, much ado about nothing-style

Not a scene that's going to change anytime soon.

Not breaking out the kazoos just yet. So Bobby Lowder has retired from his post as Colonial's Bank's "Chairman, Director, CEO and President and Eternal Glorious Dictator-for-Life of the People's Republic of Colonialia." Here, let me sum up how much impact I think his retirement from his day job will have on his influence on Auburn athletics:

OK, finished. Seriously, as long as he's wealthy (and he still is), sitting on the Board of Trustees (and as Jay points out, he will be until at least April 2011) and as long as various buildings on the Auburn campus bear his name, he's going to be just about as influential as ever. In fact, as Jay (again) points out, this could just give Lowder more free time in which to find new and exciting ways to get his greasy mitts on the Auburn athletic department again. I'll keep my fingers crossed that Lowder scaling back his activity in the public sphere will coincide with a scaling-back of his activity within Auburn's athletic halls, but I just don't think that's going to be the case.

One of the more ... curious ... responses to the Lowder retirement has come from Jay Tate, who writes that Lowder came across as "a very bright nerd" in person and adds:
Sure, he meddled in some stuff. So what?
Say what, Jay? Arranging for the school president, athletic director, and two trustees to take a secret night flight to find a replacement football coach behind the back of the current coach as he was preparing for the Iron Bowl was "meddling in some stuff"? A sitting trustee threatens Auburn University's very accreditation--without which it can simply no longer function as a serious institution of higher learning--and the response is "So what"? Huh?

I know Lowder has done some incredible things for Auburn, and no one (myself included) doubts his love for the school or its community. But in the same way doctors have "first, do no harm," Auburn's trustees have to first, always, protect and uphold Auburn University's academic reputation and institutional integrity. When Lowder sent that plane to Louisville, he may as well have been printing up decals of Calvin pissing on Samford Hall. He's not fit to serve on the Board, much less lead it. I know Jay and the other members of the "Lowder's not so bad/misunderstood" crowd have their reasons, but they don't fly with me at all.

Seasons change, feelings change. Remember about this time last year, when Auburn was piling up the commitments and it was awesome even though none of them were particularly highly-rated, because what you wanted to do was jump on the "sleepers" early before they broke out with a big senior season? Nevermind! Now what we want to do is wait it out, see where the heavy hitters are going, plan accordingly, and not rush into things. That's the way to go! Or so says Curtis Luper:
He was not concerned about the fact that Auburn only has four commitments right now (at this time last year, Auburn had 10). Alabama and Florida, by comparison, each has 12. "We're not in a commitment race," he said. "People in their haste to get early commitments, may not evaluate as thoroughly as they should. So we want to thoroughly evaluate every aspect of every potential student athlete. And we're not going to make any mistakes in character and some of the other intangibles that we can find out.'
That sounds great! (Seriously, the lesson here is that either way can work. It's all about how things wind up next February. I just think the contrast from where we stood 12 months ago is interesting.)

Baseball. Recruiting in baseball must be hard. Go after guys who don't have the skills to get drafted, and maybe you're not going to be as talented as your opponents; go after the top-of-the-line guys, and you risk them never arriving on campus. That's one of several current dilemmas currently faced by John Pawlowski:
LaGrange, Ga., catcher Luke Bailey and infielder Nick Franklin of Longwood, Fla., offer still more speed and versatility. There's only one problem.

Both players are coveted professional prospects. They're expected to be drafted in the first five rounds -- some experts see Bailey as a first-round player -- and may weigh an Auburn scholarship against a six-figure signing bonus.

Pawlowski isn't ready to concede anything.

"I'll be on pins and needles until after the draft," he said. "We'll have to go back into a few of these homes and re-recruit players. You have to reaffirm your commitment to each of them. We need them all."
That article's from the Advertiser and does what seems to be a good job of running down the challenges Pawlowski faces this offseason. (Too bad, then, it's not bylined--who do I credit?) One other quickie bit of baseball news: Academic All-American Ben Jones is definitely not the problem when it comes to the team's iffy APR score.

BlAUgosphere. Lots of good stuff out there:

--Acid Reign continues his season preview series with a look at West Virginia. I'm pretty sure "opponent 31, Auburn 10" easily marks the most pessimistic prediction Acid's made in his two years of doing these posts, which should tell you something about how much talent WVU will bring to J-Hare.

--The Pigskin Pathos says Gene Chizik is a harder man than you. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure if Ben's saying that's a good or a bad thing, but I like the way he's saying it.

--I was desperately hoping PPL would keep posting even after the end of the baseball season, and it's so far so good as they take a comprehensive look at the Twitter feeds of the SEC's football coaches. Your surprise Best in Show winner: Rich Brooks.

--"I was wearing an Auburn hat in a foreign country/the Alaskan bush/prison on the moon, and someone said War Eagle to me" stories are the best, aren't they? Fields of Donahue has one.

Bamalinks. The coachbot explains why, a la Kiffykins, he handed over a precious graduate assistant slot that could have been a huge benefit to a young coach to well-paid veteran coach Mike Groh, ex-Virginia offensive coordinator:
"He's going to graduate school," Saban said.

"He didn't have a job," Saban continued. "He should have an opportunity to work. We're not violating any rules. His dad is a good friend of mine. We coached together before. I'm sure he would do the same for my son. But he is going to graduate school and he's not making any more money than a graduate assistant ... I think, personally, I'd like to see us have more GAs, more GAs on the field to develop coaches."
1. I'm sure Groh is in grad school, because that's a requirement for the GA gig, but what use is a Master's degree to him at this stage of his career? He's not in grad school to get the degree, he's in it so he can keep coaching the football team, and his presence makes a mockery of whatever academic program he's landed in 2. The answer to Groh not having a job but there not being enough GA slots for developing coaches isn't to, you know, actually hire a developing coach in the existing GA slot and let Groh find a proper job elsewhere, it's just to add more GA slots 3. I'm sure whatever young coach who got passed over in Groh's favor is totally fine with that now that he knows Saban was just doing Groh's father a favor 4. If there was ever a phrase to sum up the coachbot approach to building a program, it's "We're not violating any rules." The spirit of them, sure, the integrity of the academic institution, yeah, that might have been a little violated. But the rules--why, Saban's always happy to follow those. Sort of.

Now that that's out of the way, it's only fair that I make note of Saban's sage observation that the NCAA doesn't do nearly enough to help develop minority coaches, a point on which I completely agree and which I tip my cap to him for making. Saban also made an appearance in front of the Tide softball team before their trip to the College Softball World Series; for a guy who supposedly doesn't have time for this s**t, I'll grant that there have been a lot of these kinds of stories during Saban's time in T-Town. So good on him for that. (HT: TSK.)

One other "in the interest of fairness" note: having made a note of Nico Johnson's recent arrest in this space before, I'm also obligated to point out that Johnson was found not guilty in a trial in which his accuser didn't even show. So, uh, yeah, you might want to file this one retroactively under "strange applications of law enforcement" rather than "Parole Tide!"

There's not really any news on the incoming Textbookgate sanctions, but both Chris Low and Mal Moore seem to think the NCAA will make its announcement in the very near future.

Etc. The world's soccer fans continue to make LSU fans look downright hospitable ... more on John Calipari and his bid for the presidency of Associated Skeezebags of America here and here ... not that you didn't know this already, but there's a lot of similarities between Auburn and Tennessee, including that both Kiffin and Chizik were on the field for that Texas-USC Rose Bowl classic, which I feel like I actually didn't know (HT:RTT) ... and during yesterday's Cox look-back, I took a glance at the 2002 Rivals top 100. Check out the five-star wideout at No. 32 overall, and consider the hype that would greet him if he committed with that kind of rating today.


sammy34 said...

The Ben Obomanu(?spelling) thing is interesting. Over the past few months I've had an enjoyable time looking back on recruiting rankings of former and current Auburn players. This morning I was looking back on Lee Ziemba. He was the 4th ranked offensive lineman that year according to Rivals. In one evaluation they mentioned that with good coaching and training he could easily be the best tackle in college football by the time his senior season roles around.

David said...

Look at Aromashodu showing up at #88--you can't point out that Ben was on the list and miss Devin, can you?

Jonesy said...

There's a reason Obie and Devin started the first game of their careers

Philip Arnold said...

I miss those Obomanu end-arounds, they were like guaranteed touchdowns every time and made Borges look like a genius...