Friday, May 01, 2009

The Works, "storied program"-style

Don't get any ideas, Greg. After having a front seat for the Paulus Panic that gripped Ann Arbor not long ago, I had myself a good chuckle at Page 2's concert t-shirt for Paulus's "Restore the Glory" world tour. But I have to say I surprised at the sixth destination on the list:

Now: no freaking way Paulus so much at looks sideways at Auburn. This is a work of humor and wholesale fiction. Which is why I'm taking it as a kind of compliment--hey, look, when random ESPN2 jokesters are thinking of "storied programs" with quarterback troubles, they're thinking of us! I credit to the increased exposure from the Limo Gambit.

Expectations. Not that any Auburn fan with a functional frontal lobe is expecting a 10-win revival this fall, but just in case you have a friend with just such an ailment or have a problem shutting up the part of you that desperately wants to expect such miracles, Year2 looked at first-year SEC coaches' winning percentage vs. their following seasons and is telling you: it ain't happening--
Houston Nutt is the only one who came in and immediately revitalized a program. He won nine games in his first season after back-to-back 4-7 seasons under Danny Ford. If not for a fumble by the Milkman, the Razorbacks would have won ten games and the SEC West outright.

The seven of the eight remaining coaches were noticeably worse in their first SEC season than they were overall. Nick Saban was nearly the same in both, but everyone else was at least a game out of 12 worse than their overall records.

Part of that has to do with the fact that the programs they took over were not exactly in top shape. But another part is that it's tough to win in the SEC period, and it takes some time to adjust.

All three new coaches are not only walking into depleted talent zones, but they are going to places immensely unhappy with the way 2008 went. Based on this recent history, it's not likely they'll set the world on fire this year ...

Chizik, Kiffin, and Mullen will almost certainly have to take their lumps this fall. They'll lose more games than they want to and will turn in a winning percentage below what the fans want. The upshot for those Tiger, Vol, and Bulldog fans though is that things will almost certainly be better in 2010 and beyond.
That last note is the real takeaway here--whatever happens this fall, Chizik will have to be judged on his later efforts. Patience, patience, patience.

Credit where it's due. The thing to remember when you read that Pac-10 teams schedule stronger nonleague opponents than any other conference is that they also play a full nine-game round-robin in their conference. That, friends, is cojones--if SEC or Big 12 teams were playing nine-game conference schedules, do you think they'd be scheduling road trips to Ohio St. and lining up at Boise St.-Purdue-Utah for a nonleague slate?

We as Auburn fans got ringside seats for the most recent example of the conferences' difference in scheduling philosophy, of course, when UCLA was willing to play Auburn in a "neutral site" 3,000 miles from Los Angeles but 90 minutes from the Plains ... only for FAIL Jacobs to say "Hey, what's that thing behind you?" and run away. So I'm with Dr. Saturday: the Pac-10 needs to keep its head up and doin' what it's doin'. It's the rest of college football that has the problem, not them.

And as for SEC fans who enjoy looking down their noses at the Pac-10: get over yourselves. Yes, our conference is stronger. It doesn't mean we have more honor. More respect really, really ought to be paid.

Prowlin'. Plainsman Parking Lot offers its first football-related post, and it's a doozy:

I could explain (yes, that's Billy Dee Williams) but if you click over PPL will do a better job. (Also, they're still dropping baseball knowledge as per usual.)

Elsewhere in the blAUgosphere, The Pigskin Pathos weighs in on the Limo Gambit with a thumbs-up (and an apropos John Stuart Mill quote, always a plus), and Jay's take at Track'Em includes a deliciously juicy rumor:
For the record, it's been reported that Alabama coaches were called in from their assignments and redirected to the same schools that Auburn assistants were visiting earlier in the week.
I have no clue if that's true or not, but it's too awesome not to pass on, right? (And while I'm linking Track'Em stuff, Acid Reign's "Tubby's Greatest Games" series covered the 2007 Florida win this week.)

For the beat hack perspective and our first glimpse of the INSIDE of the Auburn limo (OMG!!!!), the Gold Mine's got you covered. Oh, and Tony Barnhart issued the by-now standard "whatever works, who cares" endorsement.

'Krootnews. Nothing mind-blowing this week, but Marcus Lattimore did tell ESPN Auburn's still firmly in the lead, so that's good. Then again, their lead guru J.C. Shurbutt also projected Lattimore to eventually join some teammates at Florida St., so that's bad. But at that same link he raved about the start Auburn's gotten off to and projected Auburn to land Lache Seastrunk, so that's good.

There's a few more tidbits here, and Auburn's next commitment could be a second Pelham linebacker.

The other side of the story. For the past few years, one of the most tried-and-true feature story tactics from the likes of ESPN has been the "team from the earlier part of the century heroically stands up against discrimination." I mean, who doesn't love one of those stories? Easy journalistic money.

Of course, you don't ever hear about about the stories where teams had the chance to take a similar stand and didn't, which is why I found this post at Michigan blog MVictors so fascinating. In a nutshell: in 1934, Michigan scheduled a home game against Georgia Tech. Tech refused to play if Michigan's African-American player Willis Ward took the field. As MVictors details, a firestorm of debate overtook the campus (Hitler even got invoked), though ultimately the Wolverines caved and played the game without Ward. Also, Arthur Miller may have been involved. Highly recommended.

Congrats. Auburn's Dr. Ed Dyas has won election into the National College Football Hall of Fame. Check this:
Dyas, who finished fourth in the 1960 Heisman Trophy voting and was a scholastic All-American, will be the 12th Auburn coach or player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

A three-year letterman from 1958-60, Dyas is the first Auburn inductee since Coach Pat Dye went into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005. He’s the first Auburn player to be inducted since Tracy Rocker in 2004 ...

Dyas was one of the most prolific field goal kickers in college football history. In 1960, he set an NCAA record for most field goals in a season with 13. He won four Southeastern Conference games that year with field goals, including three against Georgia in a 9-6 victory in the first Auburn-Georgia game played at what is now known as Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Dyas was also a standout fullback and linebacker, concluding his career as Auburn’s sixth all-time leading rusher with 1,298 yards. During his All-American senior season, Dyas also led the Tigers in rushing and scoring and was selected as the SEC’s most outstanding back.
In other words, if Dyas had anything like that kind of success today, he'd be an Auburn god. Congratulations are in order.

Etc. Two sets of rankings from CFN on what schools produce the best running backs, and yes, Auburn figures prominently in both ... The coachbot has already watched the film of Auburn's spring game, because when you have no need for sleep, it's a lot easier to find the time for those kinds of things ... dude, LSU had two guys hit back-to-back home runs in the same inning. How has this not turned into one of those quirky national stories? I find this a lot more interesting than that kid throwing all those no-hitters in Florida, I can tell you that much.

And lastly, in the wake of the following bit of genius on the part of the Hawks radio team, I propose that the sports blogosphere replace "I'm Keith Hernandez" with "I do commercials" as the go-to shorthand for player arrogance:

1 comment:

jrsuicide said...

"i do commercials" has been my catch phrase the past 2 days. i haven't been this pumped about the Hawks since Nique left town. amazing.