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July 10, 2013

7 at 7: Auburn’s ‘Ultimate Team,’ Malzahn’s past and links galore

A lot of great links to get to in this morning’s edition of “7 at 7,” so I won’t waste time by slowing you readers down.

Let’s just dive right in.

Vandy Auburn1. As it often likes to do, ESPN has decided to hold a contest to determine which college football program has the “Ultimate Team,” combining the best players at each school spanning across time. ESPN created a 16-team bracket for the contest, which will be decided via fan vote, with Auburn receiving the No. 15 seed and drawing No. 2 Southern California in the opening round.

Bo Jackson joins quarterback Cam Newton and fellow running backs Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown and Rudi Johnson in the backfield. Receiver Tyrone Goodson was the last member of the Tigers’ offense. Defensively, the Tigers boast Nick Fairley and Quentin Groves on the line, Takeo Spikes and Karlos Dansby at linebacker and Carlos Rogers in the secondary. On the other side, the Trojans have Matt Leinart at quarterback, with running back Marcus Allen lined up behind him. USC has a plethora of options at wide receiver in the forms of Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Williams, Dwayne Jarrett and Robert Woods. The Trojans are similarly stacked at linebacker, with Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga, Willie McGinest and Chris Claiborne comprising a fantastic four. Safety Troy Polamalu rounds out Southern Cal’s representatives.

Jackson, tabbed as the captain for this mythical squad, served as a guest host of ESPN’s College Football Live on Tuesday and discussed how this team of Tigers might fare on the field.

Thus far, Auburn is doing just fine. As of this posting, the Tigers were leading the Trojans by 10 percentage points in the fan vote, 55 percent to 45 percent.

2. AL.com’s Brandon Marcello is road trippin’ across Arkansas, going back to see where Auburn coach Gus Malzahn began his career and how it helped him get where he is today. Marcello’s first article in this series ran on Tuesday, and it’s fantastic. Definitely a must-read.

3. If you weren’t able to check out War Eagle Extra on Tuesday, Auburn had two more players named to preseason award watch lists, and the Tigers also announced their player representatives for next week’s SEC Media Days proceedings.

4. Speaking of SEC Media Days — and for those who care about this type of thing — next week will mark a first for ESPN, as the network will bring its College Football Live show to the annual conference get-together at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.

Just when you thought the circus that is SEC Media Days couldn’t get any bigger, one more act is squeezed under the big top.

5. Oh, you know, just a trio of links relating to, directly or indirectly, (pretty much) everyone’s favorite punching bag, the NCAA. The first involves Ed O’Bannon and his seemingly never-ending quest to start to profit off his name and get his own cut of the NCAA’s revenue. In this episode, which played out Tuesday, O’Bannon’s lawyer asked the NCAA “to agree in writing” not to take action against any current player(s) who decide to join the lawsuit against the organization.

In a move that might raise some eyebrows, Ole Miss is not expected to be punished for allowing an ineligible player to participate in six games last season. The rationale? The player in question, walk-on cornerback Carlos Davis, participated without the school being made aware he wasn’t in good standing academically. At the time, Davis’ ACT scores were still being reviewed. The testing center later invalidated those scores, rendering Davis ineligible. The school self-reported the incident and pleaded innocent, and the NCAA apparently agreed. The only person who didn’t get away unscathed is Davis, who will be forced to sit out the Rebels first six games this fall. (For a more detailed explanation, click on the link to read Hugh Kellenberger’s article, and I also suggest watching the accompanying video embedded into the aforementioned story.)

And in the third and final link, wow. More trouble at North Carolina over parking tickets and how the vehicles fined have been tied to the same convicted felon Tar Heels’ leading scorer P.J. Hairston was linked to he was arrested last month.

6. Sports are great because they usually allow us a few hours of diversion from every day life. Because life is harsh and isn’t always fair. That’s why it’s always sobering when those two worlds collide to shatter the barrier between the real world and the things occurring within the realm of the “sports bubble.” One such example came on Tuesday, as the family of former Ole Miss player Bennie Abram III was finally able to reach a settlement with the university regarding their son’s death. Abram III, a walk-on, collapsed on Feb.19, 2010, during the first day of formal offseason workouts that year. Abram III died shortly thereafter, and the autopsy revealed the death arose from complications associated with the sickle cell trait. Abram’s parents allege the Rebels didn’t follow workout guidelines established by the NCAA which regulate how strenuously schools are able to train carriers of the sickle cell trait. Though Abram’s family reached a settlement that will see them receive $325,000 ($50,000 from Ole Miss and $275,000 from an NCAA insurance policy), the sad reality remains that all the money in the world won’t bring their son back.

Stories like this are what help us keep sports — passionate as we are about following them — in the proper perspective.

7. To end on an upbeat note for the second straight day, we have an atypical story previewing Auburn’s coming season. Over at Warblogle.com, they got their hands on an advance copy of NCAA Football 2014. And Warblogle did exactly what you’d expect when given an early copy of such a popular game: It ran five simulations with games against the Tigers’ 2013 slate.

I won’t spoil what five records it foresaw, other than noting only one didn’t have Auburn making a bowl appearance. (For the record, when Warblogle ran this same simulation last year, it spit out records of 11-2, 9-4, 8-5, 12-2 and 9-4.) Will the simulations fare better this season? Obviously, the jury is still out on that one.

I highly recommend checking out the full article, especially if you’re into video games at all. Warblogle went in-depth regarding many issues he had with the game, most notably in its ratings for various players.

Remember, though, any likeness to actual collegiate athletes is purely coincidental.

Just don’t tell that to O’Bannon.

1 Comment

  1. Really enjoying your articles so far. Glad to have you on board. Keep up the great work.

    Comment by vancejf — July 10, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

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