Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Works, roster talk-style

Breakin' it down. Earlier this week, Jay G Tate helpfully provided a position-by-position look at the likely 2009 Auburn roster. It's been reproduced a couple of other places, and while I won't do that here--because, you know, it's over there--I do have a couple of reactions:

1. There have been rumors and suggestions about the academic standing of incoming DB Reggie Taylor and incoming WR LaVoyd James, but I think this is the first time one of the Auburn beat hacks has described the pair as "probably headed to JUCO." What this means for Taylor and James, unfortunately, is that they are probably headed to JUCO. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall many Auburn signees over the past couple of years that were rumored to be in academic trouble that made it; we've gotten more of the "they should be fine; whoops, nevermind, off to Mississippi with you" treatment.

2. There are 17 (or 19, depending on Brent Slusher and Gabe McKenzie ... and Montez Billings, I think, though Tate doesn't list him as in trouble) receivers on the roster. Consider that a) that's 5 (or 7) more scholarships than we have allotted to offensive linemen, because that's how you build the foundation for a solid, physical football team b) 10 (or 12) of those scholarships will be spent on returning players, and unless Benton, Lutzenkirchen, and Blake, are every single thing they've been made out to be, there's still an excellent chance it's going to be the worst unit on the team. Cripes.

3. I should have mentioned this possibility in his Google survey yesterday, but Tate lists Washington as a WR/DB rather than a running back. Washington hasn't played a lick of wide receiver yet, at least as far I can tell, but it's certainly true there's a chance he could end up there. He's got the quicks, at the very least.

4. If Taylor and James do fail to make the grade, and one or two others like Slusher, McKenzie, or Wadley aren't back, there could be room for Robert Cooper to come in immediately rather than grayshirting. Theoretically.

Besuboru. Auburn could get a big lift in their grudge match series against the Tide this weekend: Joseph Sanders--the team's leader in home runs and RBIs when he went out with a broken jaw 12 games ago--could be back. Sounds unlikely, listening to Pawlowski, but could be.

Auburn could use him: not only is the Tide a solid SEC team, but Auburn's still got an outside shot at landing an NCAA Tournament berth (according to Andrew Gribble) with a strong showing against Alabama. SEC teams have certainly gotten the benefit of the doubt before, so how knows. Turns out the 8-6 win over Georgia Southern last night was much, much bigger than your typical nonleague midweek victory: the Eagles were higher than Auburn in the RPI and provided a nice boost.

As for how Auburn got into this mess, PPL has a whole boatload of sweet-looking graphs that explain things pretty clearly.

Krootin'. In one of their occasional attempts to lure you inside the paywall by putting something actually useful outside it, Rivals provides a free overview of where Auburn currently stands in the recruiting game. The overall impression--with the still somewhat mindboggling RB situation and Rivals saying Auburn is "in great shape to bring in a top-ranked wide receiver class"--is the same one left by Chizik and Co.'s first class last spring: whatever else you think of them, they know how to get the attention of skill position players.

As for actual news, most of it's just names you may not have heard before, but I don't know if Auburn's lead for center prospect Chase Hughes has been public info, and this set of kicker rankings has Cody Parkey at No. 1. (Dude, with Tide commit Cade Foster at No. 2, the only two committed kickers on the entire list. Budding rivalry?!?)

It's not one or the other. Orson on playoff vs. not playoff:
When we think about what we don’t like about a playoff, it’s probably this freezing logic. It’s the only rational way to determine a champion, but it kills the romanticism of a single game’s stunning verdict. Nebraska ‘95, the Megalodon of college football teams pre-2000, would have obliterated anyone in a bracket, but the mythmaking’s far more precious and undiluted when all you remember is one colossal crushing noise, a few muffled screams, and then the blood…my god, the blood. The mythos dies a little when you multiply it, and it’s taken us years to figure out exactly that point, but that’s it: one game is simpler to digest semantically than five, and is more epically compelling.
Orson's correct, mostly: part of the reason the Super Bowl is so anticlimactic so many years is because "Immensely Powerful Team A takes on Immensely Powerful Team B In Winner-Take-All Showdown" isn't unique by the time the playoffs have been going on for five weeks. Maybe the strength of the teams has inceased a little--maybe--but the stakes haven't. That college football raises those ultimate stakes for only one game each year, for just one all-defining 60 minute burst, is just another reason its aesthetics tears the NFL's to tiny shreds.

But Orson (here at least) also makes the common mistake of restricting the argument to one game vs. five, to a full-on "bracket" vs. the meteor-impact of a BCS one-off. Those aren't the terms; it's possible to compromise between these two extremes. Semifinals in mid-December, championship at the usual time: mythos intact, all the really important shaftings of the BCS era solved. Compromise, compromise, compromise.

Boldly going. The Red Cup Rebellion:
The new Star Trek film recently came to whatever theater is near you and either dazzled your puny brain or angered your die-hard Trekkie soul. Regardless of your feelings about the film, however, it is important for us to give our props to Dr. Leonard McCoy, University of Mississippi B.S. 2249, M.D. 2253, for his dedication to the mission to the USS Enterprise as the ship's surgeon and chief medical officer. No, this isn't a joke. We've got damned future alumni in outer space shootin' photon torpedos at the m*****f***in' Borg. Be jealous, SEC.
Well, maybe I would be, if McCoy wasn't the chief medical officer and never even touched the weapons station, much less fired at the Borg, who McCoy never even would have seen since they didn't enter Federation space until ... um ... er ... hey, what's that thing over there, behind you? *runs away*

Etc. Year2 takes a swing at the Gladwell piece and the David post, and does so intelligently, though I'm not sure how the 'Bama defense is supposed to be "deliberate" in "attacking the weaknesses in Malzahn's plans" ... courtesy commenter tiger7_88, Keyboard Cat plays off a certain Alabama fan ... Scott Weiland is a huge Notre Dame fan, which is sort of disappointing if you're the sort who's come to think STP was kind of underrated vis a vis their '90s alternative peers ... No one will ever accuse Tyrik Rollison of not being excited about joining up at Auburn ... and lastly, check this out:

That's the "brand narrative" for the brand-new Philadelphia MLS team. My question: why did it take this long for American professional sports to realize how awesome it would be to apply the Ben Franklin "Join or Die" cartoon to a team's identity? Sorry folks, but soccer wins this time.


tiger7_88 said...

Jerry, with regard to my comment and implied accusation in a previous thread: mea culpa. You write a ton of good stuff, the majority of it positive. You have a right to be negative occasionally as well. I have a right to respond to whatever criticism you may have, but I shouldn't be accusatory. Again: mea culpa.

And back to the UCLA thing... as I explained before, I think your attitude/opinion on this is one of a trapped TV watcher. Me? I'm a season ticket holder. I'd rather drive to Auburn and watch Auburn play LA Monroe a hundred times in The Loveliest Village before I'd stay in Atlanta to watch us play a mediocre UCLA team in the Georgia Dome. I have other reasons (that I have explained here before) as well. But that's the main one.

In other words, you are wrong! :-)

jrsuicide said...

dude, STP is/was THE SUCK. ive actually met Scott Weiland, he's a junkie douchebag so it makes since that he'd root for a douchebag team.

Justin said...

If STP sucks, then what rocks?

jrsuicide said...

lots of things that don't involve the biggest poseur grunge band of the 90s.

Year2 said...

Defenders have ways of stalling (getting up off someone slowly from a tackle being the most obvious method), but the Bama offense can help too. By going at a slow pace and getting a couple first downs in a row, it takes away one of the primary advantages of the hurry-up, namely that a defense not used to it can get worn out quickly.

Justin said...

what's more grunge than being F'ed up on hardcore drugs all the time and having the majority of your songs influenced by the drugs?
anywho, core and plush rock.
after that, no drugs = no good music

J.M. said...

The "Join or Die" snake has been used for Team USA soccer in the past. It's pretty kick-ass isn't it?

Jerry Hinnen said...

tiger7, don't sweat it. We'll just have to agree to disagree on the UCLA game.

I'm with Justin: STP's had some excellent, underrated songs. Though I have zero, zero doubt that Weiland is a douche.

Year2, a slow offense can maybe change the no-huddle's efficiency, sure, but it won't change their pace. And a team that spent the entire game getting up slowly? Bush league.

JM, Nike used the snake in some of their US Soccer promotions, but not the "join or die" slogan, I don't think. You're right that it's awesome, no doubt.