Monday, August 17, 2009

The Works, no camp report today-style

I know it's a pretty sweet football, Zach, but you really should give it back now. (Via.)

How far we've come? No practice over the weekend, so no real developments to follow from, you know, an actual football perspective. But Fan Day is a good opportunity to reflect on the tidal surge of optimism that's swept the fanbase since Chizik started hiring his assistants ... and the OA-News's Mike Svetitz takes advantage of that opportunity:
It was an honor to be there, they said. An honor to shake hands with the coach. An honor to speak with him. The chips were just a bonus — two and three bags at a time.

What a far cry from Dec. 13, 2008, when Chizik was first announced as the man to replace Tommy Tuberville.

You remember. Just YouTube “Auburn + Heckle + Airport” in case you forgot.

Did you ever think that now, eight months later, fans would line up hours in advance in the 90-degree-plus heat just to get a plastic helmet signed by Chizik?

My, how things change. And Sunday proved just how much.
On the one hand, I always feel like stereotyping the Auburn reaction to Chizik's hire using the airport heckler shorthand is awfully disingenuous--that was one guy, and when Chizik finally made it to Auburn, there was a lot more people there than "one." (They also happened to be just a bit friendlier.)

On the other hand, Svetitz is right that the pendulum couldn't have possibly swung further from one direction to the other. Chizik's hire was greeted in nearly every orange-and-blue corner (this one included) as a colossal mistake, a career-ending error for Jacobs, a small step for the program but one giant leap towards Auburn irrevelance ... and eight months later, Chizik can elevate Chris Todd to the starting quarterback position after nine practices and receive nothing but hosannahs. Countless columnists said Chizik would have to work hard to "win over the Auburn faithful" or some such. For the time being, Chizik can keep that goal safely crossed off his checklist, I think.

To be frank, though, I wonder if the pendulum hasn't swung too far in the opposite direction. Much as we can try to go Eternal Sunshine on that 5-19 thing, it happened, and it didn't happen entirely by accident ("accident" here being code for "Iowa St."). If the Chiznick really goes 9-3 (!), he won't just have learned his lessons from the ISU debacle, he'll have become coaching Einstein or something. (That, or Dr. Gustav will be an even bigger genius than we think he is.) When Svetitz mentions fans who get defensive in the face of even a "whiff of doubt" ... well, we haven't seen Chizik coach one quarter at Auburn. I think retaining at least a whiff of doubt is only healthy at this stage, if not outright necessary.

Fannin. We've got a quote on his permanent home at H-back:
“This position I’m playing in, you’ll have great games in some games and some games will be OK,” Fannin said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “I understand that now, so I’m just waiting for my time.”
I'd guess he's reached the Kodi stage: not thrilled, but at peace.

Condolences. The JCCW of course joins the rest of the Auburn family in mourning the loss of former Auburn pitcher Brent Schoening, who passed away Sunday morning after a battle with leukemia. I strongly recommend reading Jay Tate's recollection of Schoening's 1999 Super Regional performance against Florida St.

I suppose I have to mention this, don't I? As you've no doubt heard, Colonial's gone under. Impact on Bobby Lowder's trusteeship or Auburn football: zero. I guess perhaps, maybe, possibly, it makes it just that little bit harder for Lowder to pull the various strings he's acquired over the years ... but I doubt it. The story here are the jobs lost and the failure of one of the state's premier financial institutions, not the bank's connections to Auburn.

Todd 2: the Toddening. More blAUgosphere reaction, as Jay Coulter weighs in (and pays Burns his due respect) and Guaranteed to Satisfy makes the worthwhile point that once you get past the shock of Todd's ascension, there's not really much to get genuinely excited about here. That post is also worth reading for the following description of Dr. Gustav:
The guy walks around with an IV of the blackest coffee in the southeast and probably takes more caffeine pills than Jessie Spano.
I was never as big a fan of that particular program as most of the other members of my generation, but I can still recognize a killer reference when I see it.

LOLZ. I can't say I enjoy Gump4Heisman's choice of team allegiance or the occasional requisite Auburn needling, but damn, the dude can photoshop a Sports Illustrated cover. My favorite from the inspired above-linked collection:

Punditry. Two Auburn mentions you may want to see from the college football MSM, the first coming from yesterday's "Ask CFN," and I'm as surprised about this as you are:
I love what you do for college football but I couldn’t help but think that you have lost your mind entering the 2009 season. I just noticed that you picked Auburn to beat Alabama. That is a complete joke! It will take a team who can throw the football and is at worst comparable to Alabama on the offensive and defensive lines. Auburn has none of those things. They will have one of the worst offensive lines in the SEC and their QB situation is a joke. They will be lucky to make a bowl and I can promise you that one of their wins won’t be over the Tide. – Michael H.

A: Remember, there are always, always, bizarre upsets that come out of the blue each and every year. When doing the preseason picks, we look for the perfect storm of conditions to predict an upset. Is Auburn better than Alabama? No, but the Tigers should be much better and much sharper by the end of the season, all the pressure will be on the Tide (this could be Auburn's BCS Championship game), and it's at Auburn, where Bama hasn't won since 2001. And then there's the timing. Alabama has just six days between the scrimmage against Chattanooga and the Iron Bowl, while Auburn has close to two weeks off to rest up and prepare.
Hey, he's right! Or at least more right than the guy who thinks Auburn has one of the worst offensive lines in the SEC. Not right enough to actually be right about Auburn beating Alabama, mind you--even I have a hard time making myself believe that--but it's nice to have a neutral party recognizing that we've got a few building blocks to build our overindulgent optimism around.

Secondly, this is all kinds of old, but if you missed it, check out what Tony Barnhart--who has seen his fair share of exciting SEC games, I'd wager--picked out as his "most memorable moment covering college football":
December 2, 1989.
Pretty sure I don't have to tell you what that date's referring to, but I strongly recommend reading Barnhart's recollection of that rather incredible day.

Vol-denfreude. That's my new word for the delight I can't seem to help taking in the tribulations of Lane Kiffin and the Volunteers. In this week's edition, Ivan Maisel warns that Tennessee's poor offensive scrimmage performance is an ill omen and Holly reacts appropriately to news of Jonathan Crompton's spectacularly Cromptonian performance in said scrimmage. I've gone on record a couple of times as saying I think the Vols will be better than Kiffin's bumbling would suggest they will ... but that doesn't mean the continued Cromptoning isn't going to be tons of fun to watch.

Etc. SEC campuses prepare for an onslaught of night games, and though I may be in the minority, I think the positives of night games vastly outweigh the negatives ... Trooper Taylor continues to hype up his freshmen receivers, and Charles Goldberg espouses a theory behind said hype I'll be happy to co-sign, having already espoused it myself.


KungFuPanda9 said...

I thought the initial surge of negative sentiment at Chizik's hire was unwarranted, since it was based solely on his Iowa State record. The guy was a bonafide champion on defense. Simplistic thinking led people to think that just because he failed at Iowa State, he was not any good.

But that is like thinking George Washington was a lousy coach during the Revolutionary War because he lost more games than he won. Deeper analysis reveals that he was playing against the most powerful team in the world at the time. The Brits fielded professional soldiers with a long heritage of military training. They also hired well-trained mercenaries in the Hessians.

Washington's team had lousy facilities and equipment, he had farm boys with no military experience, and the analogy goes on.

Later, when he got financial aid and upgraded equipment from the French, things improved a bit.

So I think intellectual honesty demands that we take in all the variables that led to Chizik's success, or lack thereof, at Iowa State.

Sorry for the long post, but this has been like Shemp's "Niagara Falls, step by step, inch by inch..." whenever I see Chizik's record at ISU brought up without further examination of the facts in several articles (not this one specifically).

phillydelic said...

Hear hear! Good post!

Marcus said...

KFP9, George Washington never lost to Kent State! Then again, is a perennial Big-12 bottom dweller losing to Kent State any worse than a supposed elite SEC team losing to La Monroe?

That's been the knock on Chizik, that he not only went 5-19, but that he lost to inferior teams. Well, I just looked at his record, and the only losses that jump out are Kent State and Northern Iowa, which happen to be Chizik's first and second games as an HC. Yeah, it's bad, but IMO no worse than taking a team with the talent and resources of an elite SEC team and losing to a friggin Sunbelt team, IMO.

Personally, I'm really, really trying to not get my hopes up. Seems like we've been down this road before, very recently in fact. Oh, the dreams I had about AU scoring at least as many points on Ark, UGA, and UF as friggin Troy did. Alas, that was not to be.

Still, I can't help but get excited over the possibilities with the new staff.

The lack of depth is scary though.

KungFuPanda9 said...

I would like to add this to my previous cornball rant.

I feel much better about the Chizik hire because we have Gus Malzahn on the staff. I would be considerably more concerned without one of the best OC's in the nation advising a great defensive coordinator HC.

Chizik did not have Gus at Iowa State. I'll give his critics that. But he had the insight to hire the best OC he could get.

My anxiety will rise if and when Gus leaves.

Quarterback play and recruitment suffered under Tubby. Play calling became tame and predictable as well under our previous staff. Malzahn promises to be creative, practical, and unpredictable. I hope Gene writes everything down

Jerry Hinnen said...

I do like the Washington analogy, KFP, but as in so many things I think the right approach is the one in the middle. You can't just look at Chizik's 5-19 record and go "hyuck hyuck hycuk what a loser" the way our rivals' fans have, but I also don't think it's rational to say "It's Iowa St., no one can win there, who cares." No, Chizik shouldn't be defined by his ISU tenure, but we do have to admit he didn't do a good job there and will have to improve dramatically as a head coach to accomplish the things we want to accomplish at Auburn. Hiring the staff he did was a hugely encouraging sign, but there's still a ton of work ahead of him.

I don't know if Chizik's taking notes from Malzahn, but I'll wager a large sum of money Taylor is. If we are lucky enough to have Gus hired away--meaning his offense has blown up in the meantime--I'll be perfectly fine with TT taking over.