I think the answer here is "No": Those Nike commercials were freaking events back in the day--remember "I Am Not a Role Model"? Barkley's never wriggled free of it--in a way I don't think commercials (or at the very least, sports commercials) were before. So Matt gets points for that little observation. Too bad he loses them by snickering that Bo's stammering issues must not have been as bad as he's now making them out to be, since he looked pretty comfortable on-camera in the Nike spot. To which I respond: a) dude, that commercial came six years after he'd left Auburn b) reciting one line at a time in front of Nike's cameras isn't remotely the same as delivering some kind of speech in front of some huge live audience.
Maybe I'm being oversensitive because it's Bo, and I'd give him a kidney with a couple of toes thrown in if he needed them. And the digs on the, uh, excitement quotient of the speech are fair--I wouldn't blame non-Auburn fans if they didn't get too far into the clip. But I'm just not sure questioning the legitimacy of Bo's very-legitimate speech difficulties is in the best taste.
More David. The Friday post that got a stew going on Malcolm Gladwell, David vs. Goliath, Gus Malzahn, limos, the Chiznick, and girls' youth basketball ethics has drawn a couple of responses. One of them is from the always-excellent Smart Football, who already provided the definitive breakdown of the Gus Malzahn approach and reminds us again that Malzahn wasn't flying solo at Tulsa:
What they did at Tulsa was wonderful, but Herb Hand -- who brought the zone blocking aspect of the running game to go with Malzahn's pace and power game schemes -- was an integral part of the Tulsa attack: they were co-offensive coordinators for a reason. And though Malzahn seems reasonably committed to the running the ball, he was always a pass first guy, so we'll just have to see how that flies without a true quarterback.No argument here--Chizik and Malzahn both have some great big giant question marks to resolve. But I still the prefer the go-for-broke approach on both their parts over the alternative. Blutarsky had this to say:
If (Jerry')’s right, that’s an awful lot of eggs to put in the basket of one coordinator, it seems to me. And to be honest with you, there’s nothing in Chizik’s background to suggest he’s that good a judge of talent.I can admit that I may be making too much of the Malzahn hire--although I would argue Malzahn plus the Limo Gambit plus a handful of other things can add up to an out-and-out "trend" in Chizik's outside-the-box thinking, it's not exactly overwhelming evidence just yet. However, I also don't think we can judge Chizik's hiring track record for a job like Auburn on his work at Iowa St. No, his hires in Ames did not work out particularly well, but he also didn't have nearly the kind of pool to draw from he has at Auburn. The jury remains out on guys like Roof, Grimes, Lolley maybe, even Malzahn ... but Taylor? Rocker? Thigpen? Luper? Those guys are just about as good as it's going to get at those positions. I think right now the needle on Chizik's hiring decisions has to be closer to the "benefit of the doubt" reading than not.
It's not Auburn-related, but this Basketball Prospectus response to the Gladwell piece's portrayal of Rick Pitino is worth a look. It argues, in brief, that if you're a Goliath you shouldn't think or play like a David. That might be the case in hoops, and it's worth thinking about, but I'm not sure of its applicability in college, where last year's national championship participants were both employing distinctly unorthodox offensive approaches.
Around the league. Several things happening, one of them being (courtesy the honorable Senator) that Mark Richt has declared himself an enemy of the city of Jacksonville:
But when people ask me the question, ‘Do you really think [Jacksonville] is a neutral site?’, I say, ‘No, it’s not neutral.’ When you play in the state of Florida every year –- we fly, they drive; it’s hotter for us, it’s cooler for them. It’s played in a stadium that [used to be called] the Gator Bowl. But what the heck? If nothing else, we’ll make Jacksonville pay more to keep it there. . . . I wouldn’t feel bad having a ‘neutral site’ game in Georgia – in the Georgia Dome.”Blutarsky and Dawgs Online are understandably hoping the "hotter for us, cooler for them" line was tongue-in-cheek, since as excuses go, it's near the bottom of the Totally Reasonable/Unspeakably Lame scale. But I think what Richt is getting at is that it's hotter in Jacksonville than it is in Athens--and that the Gators, being situated in the panhandle already, are going to be more acclimated to the heat than the Dawgs. It's still a fairly lame thing to mention at all, but there's some level of logic to it.
At Tennessee, Tyler Maples' departure means that 11 players have now left the program since Kiffykins took over, which for some reason is apparently the tipping point for media coverage of this sort of thing. With that tidbit still hot on the presses, it's not surprising that Kiffin lands at the bottom of Barrett Sallee's rank-the-SEC-head-coaches exercise, a time-honored tradition of the offseason:
Energy or not, Kiffin's hire is going to be either a home run or a strike out, and so far, it's looking like the latter. Not many people can make Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis look like a reasonable man, but Kiffin's antics this winter make it a little more clear why Davis showed him the door in Oakland. Maybe the Vols players will buy into his style and turn it around; but so far, not so good.Barrett's an Auburn guy and a good writer, but I feel like I have to reiterate my Kiffykins stance here: whatever you think of his mouth, of the kids fleeing left and right, of his hot wife, far and away the most important thing he had to do for his team's on-field success between his hire and next fall was salvage the 2009 recruiting class. And lo and behold, he brought in the No. 1 recruit in the country, stole away a five-star kid from LSU, and a four-star kid from Florida. It doesn't mean much until the season starts and we get a better look at what he brings to the sidelines, but right now the early returns for the Kiffin tenure at Tennessee are at least as positive as they are negative. (And not to pile on, but Miles at No. 7? The guy won 34 games, a Sugar Bowl, and a national championship in three years. All three of those seasons were better than any Houston Nutt has ever put together, but Nutt's at No. 3? I have to respectfully disagree.)
At Alabama, they're having (future) players arrested, so, you know, same-ol', same-ol'.
At this point the bigger headline will be that one of the SEC's 2006 coaches won't be in the movie. Tubby joins the throng on "The Blind Side" set:
Parts of the movie have already been shot on the Georgia Tech campus. When I saw Tuberville he was on his way to Atlanta to shoot some scenes.Saban, Da Coach O, and Big Phil? We all are, coach, we all are. (That same link has Barnhart's response to Urban Meyer's response to the Limo Gambit, for what that's worth.)
“It’s something a little different,” said Tuberville, who is sitting out this season after being let go at Auburn last year. “I’m kind of anxious to see what the other coaches do.”
Might want to bookmark this one. Via Team Speed Kills, check out the 2010 SEC recruiting map. Two things:
1) It would be nice to put a couple more Auburn logos inside the state of Alabama, wouldn't it?
2) Look where Vandy had to go for their commit! He's, like, from the ocean! I'm barely exaggerating!
I hope your wild, unbridled optimism isn't as unfounded as I think it is. So this is kind of old, but ... Fanblogs took a look at a composite pre-preseason top-25 available here, and I was quite surprised to find that Auburn landed in the "others receiving votes" category. What intrepid pundit, I wondered, actually had the cojones to slot Auburn into their top-25 when even Bo's not going to expect Chizik's first team to reach those kinds of heights? The answer is the Sporting News's Matt Hayes, who placed Auburn No. 24 in January because of the Malzahn and Roof hires and the "talent on both sides of the ball." I salute Mr. Hayes's fortitude and hope that he is more shrewdly accurate about the "talent" on the offensive side of the ball than I am.
Etc. Attention citizens of Mobile: next year's GMAC Bowl might play host the ninth-place ACC team, assuming they're eligible, so try to contain your excitement ... Braves and Birds defends Atlanta as a sports town with typical aplomb ... the coaches' poll is, somehow, potentially deciding that more secrecy is the answer to the criticism of "there's too much secrecy"; OverThePylon has your requisite outrage ... and Moles have comically low expectations of themselves.