Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Works, keepin' it spicy-style

For absolutely no reason ... ... other than that I finally got around to acquiring Baby's First iPod, went through every CD in my possession for "OK, what's going to fit?" purposes, and realized that this song--which I listened to approximately 1,947 times in the space of a month back in eighth grade--not only still holds up, it's practically crying out for a good punk remake.

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.

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, according to its annual release last week. The nine-member class also ranks third in the Southeastern Conference.

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.
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.

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.

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.
Makes sense to me--and of course Rocker has the track record to back it up.

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.


cocknfire said...

Just to be clear, I didn't say South Carolina won't miss the experience -- I think it's an open question.

Obviously, experience is important. I would argue it's most important in two places: (a) the offensive line and (b) the quarterback position. Garcia has a pretty good amount of experience, and everyone along the offensive line at South Carolina has gotten a chance to play because the line was troublesome and players kept shuffling in and out. (Also meaning that, if we lost some of the experience OL players, so what?)

The other thing I noted was that it's not like any of these players have never seen the field. They've played, just not in ways that show up as prominently in Steele's formula.

And that's my real gripe. I love Steele as much as the next guy, but there are some things in football that are important but can't be reduced to numbers. Experience, which is a nuanced term if ever there was one, is one of those. I would argue that a backup who played in five of Florida's 300-17 demolitions of other SEC teams has less valuable experience than a Kentucky backup who played in four of the Wildcats' closely-fought games last year. How do you account for that?

Jerry Hinnen said...

Hey there, CNF. I may have made too much of your dismissal of the Steele post, it's true. But you did mention point-blank you won't miss Captain Munnerlyn--I extrapolated from there, I guess.

It's true that Steele can't account for everything, but looking across all five of the factors I detailed in my post ... I mean, that's about as detailed as you're going to get. Maybe there were a lot of younger players playing last year, but they must not have been very productive or the yards and tackles returning metrics would have been a lot friendlier.

I won't argue that the o-line and Garcia give you something to build around, and even some of Steele's stuff away from the roster--the turnover factor, for instance--seem to indicate SC will be all right. But eight wins, another New Year's berth against that schedule? I'm just not seeing it.

David said...

Milquetoast? Very nice, I actually had to look that one up...

cocknfire said...

I don't know that I see eight wins either. But I don't know what to make of at least seven teams in the SEC. It's all a puzzle to me right now.

Acid Reign said...

.....Mike Raita of ABC 33/40 interviewed Chizik on tonight's evening news, and grilled him about Big Cat and possible violations. Chiz is evidently in town on some charity golf thing. Chizik basically said that "we do things the right way at Auburn," and that they were careful not to break any rules. Raita was disappointed...

.....Frank Sanders also got some face time, and he seems pumped up about Auburn.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Dave: The More You Know ... *star flies across screen*

Acid, thanks for the report!