AUBURN, Ala. –Here’s a to-do list for Robin Williams.
1) Grow a beard, quickly.
2) Fly to Atlanta, take the Groome Transportation shuttle direct to Auburn.
3) Ask the nearest official in the football facility to show you to the film room, where Jonathan Wallace will undoubtedly be found studying tape (now that final exam week is over.)
4) Have a seat.
5) Soothe young Wallace: It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.
It’s not your fault.
Look, it’s not like Wallace was put on this earth to run Scot Loeffler’s offense. He wasn’t. Neither were Kiehl Frazier or Clint Moseley.
All tried it. None executed it — Auburn scored 81 points in eight SEC games, and its average of 235.1 yards in conference games were lowest in all of Division I. In a related story, Loeffler and the previous assistants are now polishing resumes.
The Tigers desperately needed to get back to a spread offense. Hiring Gus Malzahn to replace Gene Chizik emphatically proved that.
But the subsequent appointment of Rhett Lashlee (or Gus Jr., if you will) — which in hindsight should have been more blatantly inevitable — hammers it home.
This is the Gus Bus. Those who possess a very particular set of skills in this scheme will thrive. Those who don’t, well, there’s the door.
Say hello to Shiloh Southeast.
Lashlee has never managed a major-college offense before, but starred at the small parochial high school in Springdale, Ark., and is now Malzahn’s protégé, his right-hand-man, his finest student of the hurry-up no-huddle. What makes you think Frazier won’t be given every opportunity — repeat: every opportunity — to similarly shine?
College football is not fair. It is a business. Auburn did and should do what’s best for Auburn.
It’s just ironic that we’ve reached this point where Kiehl Frazier will be given every opportunity to become a star … because of Kiehl Frazier’s crumbling-star act a few months ago.
It wasn’t all Frazier’s fault. But let’s face it, he operated Loeffler’s traditional playbook about as well as he could run a 10K in high heels … even though he was the presumed guy throughout spring, summer and early fall.
When the season ended two weeks ago, I assessed the 2013 starting quarterback question as follows: four-star recruit Jeremy Johnson, 40 percent chance. Wallace, 30 percent. Junior-college transfer to be named later: 29 percent. Frazier or Moseley: 1 little percent.
Now? Is it insane to call Frazier a mortal lock?
Frazier, like Wallace, is a great kid with athletic potential who needs the right situation. He just wants to play football, in the SEC or anywhere else.
Barrett Trotter chose not to play his senior year because of a change in offensive philosophy. Gotta wonder if Moseley, a strong-willed vocal leader and decent game manager, will ponder the same route.
On the surface, shouldn’t Wallace be given a fair shake? To be fair, he was baptized by blowtorch by the two teams that dazzled in the SEC Championship Game and may well be the top two squads in the country.
No, Wallace wasn’t a Shiloh Saint. But he, too, ran Malzahn’s go-go-Gadget-go offense from afar at Central-Phenix City, and Malzahn was instrumental in recruiting Wallace to the Plains before he left for Arkansas State. The locker room, at this moment, belongs to Wallace, starter of the four most recent games.
Hate to portray Frazier as the villain. It can’t be overemphasized that he’s a quality kid. But this smells like a sports movie to me.
How does it end for Wallace? “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” with him bucking the odds?
Or are we looking at Good Will Hunting?
Aaron Brenner, firstname.lastname@example.org