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July 31, 2008

One day away

Hi everybody. I guess today’s my last day of relative peace for the next four months. I spent it driving around Auburn between introductions with members of the football coaching staff, trying to find a halfway decent rental property that isn’t already spoken for this fall. (No luck so far. Feel free to make any suggestions because I could use all the help I can get).

Anyway, I met the entire coaching staff today. Got to sit down with Tommy Tuberville and his son Tucker in his office for a good while and get to know him a little bit. It’s nice to put the introductions behind you so you have at least met these guys before you start asking them questions. I’m looking forward to getting started with practices, and you can tell they are too, although I’m betting my enthusiasm will be dampened a bit by about Day 15 of the 17 consecutive days of practice they’re about to start Saturday without a break.

Couple notes from the day and then I’m going to post a couple of amusing pictures a friend e-mailed me today at the bottom from the coaches tour in the Middle East.
* Tuberville said they still haven’t heard back from the NCAA Clearinghouse on Daphne RB Reggie Hunt. He said they otherwise expect smooth sailing when everyone reports Friday. I’ll be writing something from that and will post some extra quotes from the new guys on here sometime tomorrow night, so look for that.

* Auburn basketball forward Josh Dollard has been kicked off the team for breaking team rules. They put out a press release on it today. I’m not sure if that’s part of why Jeff Lebo seemed so unsure over whether Dollard would be ready for the start of the year on the SEC coaches summer teleconference a couple weeks ago. But it doesn’t matter. He’s done at Auburn now.

Lebo’s statement in the press release:
“Josh understood his requirements and responsibilities to be an Auburn student-athlete, and he has fallen short in fulfilling what was clearly communicated to him.”

* Also, the official Auburn site has a new page up and running detailing all 25 of the current and former Auburn folks who will be participating in the Beijing Olympics. It’s got what they’ll be competing in, when, all that good stuff. Check it out here.

* Now onto the pictures from the Middle East. I’m sure these have been making the rounds among Auburn fans, so they may or may not be new to you. I’d hope nobody minds me posting them here (if they do, I’ll take them down). According to the e-mail I received, they were sent by Lt. Justin Cobb, who is stationed in Bahrain. I assume he’s the guy in the pictures with the coaches. I thought a couple of them were neat and a couple of them were funny.

It’s crazy to me how much was being made of Tuberville’s seven-finger thing after their touch football game. If it wasn’t obvious to you before, it should be obvious when you see a picture of Mark Richt posing with a guy hoisting an Auburn flag — these guys didn’t have to play up team loyalty over there, they were just there to visit the soldiers. If somebody asked Richt to pose with an Auburn flag, obviously he did it. If some Auburn fan asked Tuberville to throw up seven fingers while they carried him off the field, he just wanted them to have a good time while he was there. Even when one of them held up a sign mocking how Nick Saban wasn’t there and Tuberville posed with him, who cares? I mean, really…who cares? (And I guess I should point out you could photoshop whatever you want that sign to say on there. I didn’t take that picture, so I’m not 100 percent sure it’s legit). Either way, it’s a good thing those coaches did to go over there and visit those guys. There’s nothing wrong with a little good-natured fun, no matter what you might read to the contrary in some anonymous mongoloid’s message board rants.

Also included in the e-mail forward were photos of the front and back sides of a coin Tuberville was handing out to those guys over there. Apparently he was the king schwag distributor over there.

FSN/Sportsouth Auburn season previews

I saw something from FSN South this morning announcing when their 30-minute season previews for each SEC team will air on Sportsouth and FSN South. They shot on campus, will run down the schedule and talked with Tommy Tuberville and Sen’Derrick Marks. If you get one or both of these cable channels, here are the times you’ll be able to catch it:

Sun, Aug 10 9 p.m. (ALL TIMES EASTERN)
Tue, Aug 12 7:30 p.m.
Wed, Aug 13 11:30 a.m.
Wed, Aug 13 11:30 p.m.
Sat, Aug 16 7:30 p.m.

Fri, Aug 8 7 p.m.
Sun, Aug 10 1:30 p.m.

July 30, 2008

Crittenden named all-AIFL

Former Auburn offensive lineman Monreko Crittenden was named to the American Indoor Football Association’s All-Western Conference team today. He plays for the Columbus Lions here in town, as does ex-Auburn receiver Silas Daniels.

They both had outstanding years for the Lions. Daniels didn’t make the all-conference team, but he was one of the top receivers in the league. He finished the year ranked seventh in both receptions and receiving yards (68 catches, 898 yards, 20 TDs). Crittenden was signed away by the Arena Football League’s Los Angeles Avengers during the regular season and returned to the Lions when the AFL season completed. (In essence, the AIFA serves as a minor league of sorts for the AFL). You may remember that he was a rather oversized lineman when he was at Auburn. That certainly hasn’t changed. The Avengers’ Web site lists him at 6-5, 395.

Heisman hopefuls on tap

I started thinking a little bit tonight about which players to keep an eye on as the season gets going and I consider how to vote in the Heisman hunt. It occurred to me how several of them are on Auburn’s schedule this year. Although there might have been even more last year, with Tebow, McFadden and Percy Harvin all coming to mind. I think Harvin is a strong darkhorse for the award this year.

All three of the guys I included on my ballot were underclassmen (Tebow-McFadden-Daniel), as was the last guy I left off, West Virginia’s Pat White. I waited until the final night to let White usurp Daniel for third. But frankly they both had so-so nights at best, with White’s team losing to lowly Pitt and Daniel’s team getting blown out by Oklahoma. So Daniel got a vote from me.

Anyway, you’ve got a handful of guys who very well may get some serious Heisman attention who will go up against the Tigers this year:
* Tennessee: Arian Foster (and Phil Steele included QB Jonathan Crompton on his list of darkhorses, although I’m not so sure about that)
* Arkansas: Casey Dick (just kidding. although I’m betting he’ll be better at running Petrino’s offense this year than many folks expect)
* West Virginia: White and Noel Devine
* Georgia: Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford (I think Knowshon makes it to New York if he remains healthy

I didn’t include Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead on there because that’s probably a stretch, but I think he’s going to cause a stir in the league this year. I’ve watched him play a little bit and think he’s going to be a star.

It’s hard to say Tebow’s not the favorite going into the season, but I’ll bet right now that he won’t win it. Not because he won’t play well enough to deserve it, but because A) I think the Gators will spread it around more this year and he won’t put up numbers that are quite as eye-popping and B) more importantly, I expect the voters to be awfully fickle and overly critical to justify not giving him the award again. We’ll see though.

Right now, I guess my top five would be:
1. Tim Tebow, Florida
2. Chris Wells, Ohio State
3. Chase Daniel, Missouri
4. Pat White, West Virginia
5. Knowshon Moreno, Georgia

It’s awfully early to be making predictions, but it’s kind of fun to consider all the possibilities. I have about 20 guys on my list that I could see winning it right now.

July 29, 2008

Hudson likely out for year

I just saw where Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson, who has all sorts of ties to this area besides pitching for Auburn (born in Columbus, went to Glenwood High and then Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City) is out for the year. It’s unfortunate, but it looked like the writing was on the wall when he came off the field shaking his arm/elbow the way he did in his last start against Florida.

It’s tough to keep seeing this stuff happen as someone who grew up on Braves baseball. I finally turned off last night’s bludgeoning they were taking from St. Louis because it’s like you’re not even watching the Braves anymore. Because of all the injuries they’ve sustained, it’s like you’re watching a bunch of Triple-A players in Braves uniforms — I guess, because you are. It seems especially tough for folks in this area to watch right now, because Hudson still has a ton of friends and family around here and is an immensely popular guy. Here’s hoping he comes back good as new. He was an unbelievably good player at Auburn.

Tentative AU practice schedule

Auburn released its tentative preseason practice schedule today. Here are the days leading up to the first day of class, which I’m pretty sure is when they start limiting practice access. Up until then, they’re at the intramural fields and fans/media are allowed to watch all they want. Keep in mind these are TENTATIVE times and subject to change, but I thought I’d post them in case someone wanted to get an idea of times they might try to watch.

Fri., Aug. 1 Freshmen report (5 p.m.)
Sat., Aug. 2 Practice starts 9:45 a.m. (Fan Day 3-5 at Beard-Eaves)
Sun., Aug. 3 4:45 p.m.
Mon., Aug. 4 4:30 p.m.
Tue., Aug. 5 9:45 a.m.
Wed., Aug. 6 9:45 a.m. (First day in full pads)
Thur., Aug. 7 8:15 a.m. and 7 p.m. (First day of two-a-days)
Fri., Aug. 8 9:45 a.m.
Sat., Aug. 9 9:30 a.m.
Sun., Aug. 10 7 p.m.
Mon., Aug. 11 8:15 a.m, and 7 p.m. (Second two-a-days)
Tue., Aug. 12 9:45 a.m.
Wed., Aug. 13 8:15 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Third two-a-days)
Thur., Aug. 14 9:45 a.m.
Fri., Aug. 15 8:15 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Fourth two-a-days)
Sat., Aug. 16 9:30 a.m.
Sun., Aug. 17 7 p.m.

Good news on satellite radio front

If you hadn’t already heard, the two competing satellite radio companies, XM and Sirius, finally completed their merger today after months of holdup because of government red tape.

I don’t know exactly how many Auburn fans, or SEC fans for that matter, this affects, but it definitely was good news for me. The entire league’s games were slated to be carried on XM only this year, after most all of them (including AU) had been on Sirius to this point.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who chose Sirius specifically because it carried nearly all the football broadcasts from the SEC. It was a great toy for those Saturday afternoons when I’d be driving from Athens to Columbia to cover a night game and could still listen to Auburn play the JP game against Mississippi State on Sirius. Or last year driving back from UGA-Tennessee in Knoxville and listening to LSU-Florida. I could go on and on. It’s a great resource for a beat writer who otherwise might not be able to know much about what’s going on from around the league on Saturday night because it’s not possible to sit down and watch it on TV like most everyone else.

They haven’t announced exactly how the plan will work, but in the release they discuss how they’ll offer a la carte packages under the new merged company. I’d assume there will be ways for listeners to receive both the NFL (previously carried on Sirius only) and MLB (XM only), or get Howard Stern (Sirius) as well as Oprah (XM)…although I doubt there’ll be too much crossover between those two particular audiences…For me, I’ll definitely be interested in keeping my Sirius music stations and adding SEC and MLB packages, as long as it’s not too much more than the $11.95 per month I currently pay (although I’ll definitely get the SEC stuff).

I love the idea of a la carte programming. I wish cable companies would subscribe to such a policy. It’s ridiculous that they can subsidize some of these ridiculous cable stations by forcing them down your throat in some package that includes stations you actually want to watch. Unfortunately, if we were actually able to pay for only what we want to watch, they wouldn’t make nearly as much money, I suppose, so there’s no incentive for a cable company to do such a thing. A man can dream, though.

July 28, 2008

Auburn not ranked in top 20

of the nation’s top 20 party schools, according to the Princeton Review, that is. We’ve found another list dominated by SEC schools, however. Five schools from the conference are among the top 20.

1. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
2. University of Mississippi, University, Miss.
3. Penn State University, University Park, Pa.
4. West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va.
5. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio.
6. Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Va.
7. University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
8. University of Texas, Austin, Texas.
9. University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif.
10. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.
11. University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.
12. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
13. University of Colorado, Boulder, Co.
14. Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.
15. Tulane University, New Orleans, La.
16. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Ill.
17. Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
18. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.
19. University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
20. Loyola University-New Orleans, New Orleans, La.

July 27, 2008

Just so you know…

Sen’Derrick Marks has a column in today’s Sporting News Today (page 14, if you’re looking). Not shocking stuff. Entertaining stuff. From what I saw at Media Days, Sen’Derrick seems like an enormously likable kid. I’m sure he’ll remain so in his columns. … even if they’re diaries … which are of course, “for females.”

July 26, 2008

Kenny Irons released

I just saw where the Cincinnati Bengals released Kenny Irons yesterday after he failed a physical. Found that surprising, although I read where his rehabilitation from a torn ACL suffered in last year’s preseason opener is going slowly. The Bengals’ web site points out that they often re-sign injured players they cut once they clear waivers, but they had to make a move with Irons to meet their roster limit. I would hardly say his NFL career is over just yet.

The Bengals have notoriously struck out with a lot of their high draft picks in recent years. I was thinking just now about how several of them are ex-SEC guys.

Kenny Irons (2nd round, 07) assuming he doesn’t stick with Cincy
David Pollack (1st round, ’05)
Odell Thurman (2nd round, ’05)
Keiwan Ratliff (2nd round, ’04)