Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, the ball's in your court.
No link, just a thought: Man, how fortunate are we to be fans of college football from the state of Alabama? The news beat is supposed to be quiet between the end of spring camp and the opening of fall practice, but the last two years alone we've had Tubby Fingergate, Auburn Commitment Mania, Alabama Oversigninggate, Franklin's Blabbermouth, Jimmy Johns and his Magical Nose Candy Emporium, Limogate, now Big Cat Weekendgate ... and a) that list doesn't even include any developments from SEC Media Days b) we're still in the first week of June this year. This whole bloggin' job would be so, so much more difficult if I were a fan of, say, UConn.
The Straight Man. Being the sort who's willing to draw up an Arrested Development metaphor at the drop of George Michael's Motherboy sailor hat, I've started thinking of Gene Chizik as Auburn's more-serious-but-less-flawed Michael: the sane, normal, even-keeled guy who somehow can't help but surround himself with all kinds of brilliantly wacky characters and their resulting outlandish hijinks. (Do you think Gus Malzahn came with a red windbreaker and sunglasses? I hope so.) This impression is only reinforced by Chizik's impressive dedication to keeping his quotes as milquetoast as possible even in the face of developments as over-the-top as the Big Cat Weekend:
It's Marketing 101. You just try to get out there and do the things that appeal to younger guys. We feel like we're heading in the right direction. We're always trying to stay on top of everything, think a little bit outside the box. We're going to continnue to do that, but we think right now it's going in the right direction.Well, that's ... insightful? I'm starting to think Chizik went to the Milford School. Maybe he's saving the juicy stuff for the Talk Room.
BlAUgosphere. Every now and then one of my fellow Auburn bloggers will churn out a post that makes me think "Damn, I really should have thought of/written that." This completely kick-ass Section 25 post is one such post, because it starts like this ...
Hey, recruit! Are you sick of boring recruiting?! Fed up with the same shirt-ripping, tunnel running BULLCRAP!?! Are Dodge Chargers just not a punch in your face anymore!?! Try EXTREME RECRUITING!!! That's right!! From the makers of "Tiger Prowl" comes all new EXTREME RECRUITING!!! This isn't your father's recruiting! This recruiting is a kick straight to your nads!... and only gets better, all the way down to the disclaimer at the bottom. If next year's recruiting efforts aren't sponsored by Brawndo, I'll be seriously disappointed.
Elsewhere, TWER continues to gently come back back to us by relating a brief-but-hilarious conversation with an underground rock star, and PPL gave us two sets of updates on Auburn alums currently making their way in pro baseball, the first of which pointed us towards this story on ex-Tiger and current K.C. Royal Tug Hulett. Hulett's spent a lifetime dealing with his younger brother's accidental death in front of Hulett's eyes when they were both kids; it's a must-read.
PPL also wrapped up their top-notch Big Cat coverage, taking the positions that there's still reasonable doubt as to whether any violations occurred, but that if they did, they should be taken seriously:
Not to be a wet blanket and rain on the Big Cat parade, but when Auburn fans start saying, "Hey it's just a secondary violation, happens all the time". And violations (even secondary) start becoming more and more prevalent and the next thing you know you are giving steaks to players because they were "hungry" and needed the "gain weight". I'm not saying Auburn is heading down that path, nor am I saying the two events are in any way related. But damnit, as an Auburn fan, the last thing I want is the NCAA anywhere near my campus.Word.
Maybe we're getting somewhere? Like a lot of Olympic sports I've wound covering in my newspaper career, I've ended up with a big soft spot for volleyball. So I would say I've probably been more disappointed than most Auburn diehards that our volleyball team has sucked like the cold black vacuum of outer space for as long as I can remember. (Auburn's last four SEC records: 2-14, 5-15, 3-17, 1-19.) Meaning also that I'm going to go where I'm sure no SEC blogger has gone before and link and quote a University release on volleyball recruiting:
The Auburn volleyball team's 2009 recruiting class has been named the 26th-best in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com, according to its annual release last week. The nine-member class also ranks third in the Southeastern Conference.That ranking doesn't even include a Bulgarian player Benson is bringing over (though, of course, a lot of the teams ranked ahead of Auburn probably also have incoming Euros). Here's to hoping this is the start of the program finally, finally getting back on its feet.
The 2009 class is the first full recruiting class for second-year head coach Wade Benson and is the first Auburn class to be ranked in the Prep Volleyball Top-30 in at least seven years.
More goodness. Jay G. Tate continues his coaching profiles series with this insightful look at Tracy Rocker. Money grafs:
Rocker is more motivator than strategist. Several defensive linemen spent the spring telling tales of how different things had become. Gone are the days of technique-oriented assessments. Rocker isn't too worried about hand placement or leverage. He'll adjust them if necessary, but he's not grading on that. He believes each player has his own way to best affect the offensive. Rocker gives his players the freedom to find that avenue and perfect it.Makes sense to me--and of course Rocker has the track record to back it up.
Mike Blanc provides an ideal example. Blanc is a bull rusher. That's his thing. Former assistants Don Dunn and Terry Price pushed Blanc to develop different methods to pressure quarterbacks and disrupt rushing lanes. Rocker, though, has worked with Blanc to enhance his bull rush -- believing the bull rush provides Blanc his best chance for a positive outcome.
Carolina, we have a problem. Yesterday's post revealed that to hear Phil Steele tell it, South Carolina is going the enter 2009 in a dead heat with Miss. St. as the SEC's least experienced team. Uh-oh: he also believes them to have the nation's toughest schedule. Don't add 2 and 2 together, Cock fans ... especially if you really believe the expectations are "eight wins or bust." Cocknfire says that SC won't miss their group of departed underachieving draft picks, but I think that only sort of underscores the point: if Spurrier couldn't get the most out of a team with multiple NFL-quality players on it, won;t he get even less out of a team with even less talent?
Elsewhere in the "potential rude awakenings" file, Mississippi St. fans are buying up tickets in bulk to see their horribly inexperienced Bulldogs take on the country's toughest home schedule. Good luck, Mr. Mullen. Oh wait: scratch that.
Etc. The NCAA shouldn't have been able to screw up news as positive as "They're finally going to stop calling charges under the basket!", and yet, somehow, they managed it ... Over the Pylon has added two more posts to their series breaking down the 2008 season in statistics, and any ACC fans out there might want to skip it ... and I'll gladly cosign Clay Travis's argument that death threats against college football players need to be taken seriously by the authorities starting yesterday.