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February 8, 2013

Josh Bynes says “I love Auburn to death” | Ring-riddled Super Bowl champion humbled to hone his place in Tigers history

Josh Bynes

Photo provided by Josh Bynes

By AARON BRENNER

abrenner@ledger-enquirer.com

AUBURN, Ala – Good thing Josh Bynes has two hands. Because now he needs more than five fingers to flash all that bling he’s won as a college and professional football player.

More than 2,000 men have earned a football letter at Auburn. Only those who played in 1957 or 2010 have won a collegiate national title, and just 16 have lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champion.

Behold the list of guys who have done both: Josh Bynes, linebacker for Auburn (2007-10) and the Baltimore Ravens (2011-12).

“It means a lot to me,” Bynes told the Ledger-Enquirer Friday in a phone interview Friday, his head still spinning five days after the Ravens’ 34-31 win over 2004 Jim Thorpe Trophy winner Carlos Rogers and the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans.

“It’s crazy to be marked in Auburn history as the first player to win the Super Bowl and a national championship. It is unbelievable – it’s just a blessing.”

Elevated from the practice squad midseason when Ray Lewis missed games with a torn triceps injury, Bynes played mostly special teams for Baltimore. He tackled 49ers returner Ted Ginn Jr. after time expired to seal the victory.

Bynes remembered back to preseason media days in Baltimore, when he showed off his five rings from college: the 2007 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, 2010 Outback Bowl, 2010 SEC Championship, and two national title rings – one from the BCS, one from Auburn.

“The guys had been asking me for a long time, ‘show me the rings, show me the rings’,” Bynes said. “A lot of the guys, they’d never been to a big bowl or even a bowl game at all, definitely never been to a national championship.

“They said, ‘I wish I could get one of these.’ Now, everybody on the team’s gonna get one.”

Bynes was the Tigers’ leading tackler his junior and senior years, capped by 73 takedowns in 2010 when Auburn went 14-0 and won its second national title.

“I love Auburn to death,” Bynes said, “and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Pretty high praise for a kid out of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. who didn’t know much about the school – “I thought Auburn was in Georgia”, he admitted – until his official visit his senior year of high school, in mid-October 2006.

“I was a state of Florida guy – growing up I was all about the University of Miami,” Bynes said. “But I went to one of their summer camps, and then I came on a visit during the Florida game in Auburn (which Auburn won 27-17), and it was just amazing. I knew I was going there after the game.”

Photo provided by Josh Bynes

December 2, 2012

2012-13 SEC/BCS Bowl Schedule

Mark your calendars and DVR boxes …

DEC. 31

Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. North Carolina State (7-5)

LP Field (Nashville, Tenn.), noon ESPN

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: No. 8 LSU (10-2) vs. No. 14 Clemson (10-2)

Georgia Dome (Atlanta, Ga.), 7:30 p.m. ESPN

JAN. 1

Gator Bowl: Mississippi State (8-4) vs. No. 20 Northwestern (9-3)

Everbank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.), noon ESPN2

Outback Bowl: No. 10 South Carolina (10-2) vs. No. 18 Michigan (8-4)

Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.), 1 p.m. ESPN

Capital One Bowl: No. 7 Georgia (11-2) vs. No. 16 Nebraska (10-3)

Florida Citrus Bowl (Orlando, Fla.), 1 p.m. ABC

Rose Bowl: No. 6 Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)

Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.), 5 p.m. ESPN

Orange Bowl: No. 12 Florida State (11-2) vs. No. 15 Northern Illinois (12-1)

Sun Life Stadium (Miami, Fla.), 8:30 p.m. ESPN

JAN. 2

Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Florida (11-1) vs. No. 21 Louisville (10-2)

Superdome (New Orleans, La.), 8:30 p.m. ESPN

JAN. 3

Fiesta Bowl: No. 4 Oregon (11-1) vs. No. 5 Kansas State (11-1)

U. of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.), 8:30 p.m. ESPN

JAN. 4

Cotton Bowl: No. 9 Texas A&M (10-2) vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2)

Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Tex.), 8 p.m. FOX

JAN. 5

BBVA Compass Bowl: Ole Miss (6-6) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)

Legion Field (Birmingham, Ala.), 1 p.m. ESPN

JAN. 7

BCS National Championship Game: No. 2 Alabama (12-1) vs. No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0)

Sun Life Stadium (Miami, Fla.), 8:30 p.m. ESPN

November 30, 2012

The Hangover, Part XII: Scouting Georgia and Alabama, with ESPN.com’s Edward Aschoff

ATLANTA — No Auburn game this weekend, but I’m still covering football, so we need a breakdown from one of the best in the business.

Instead of traipsing behind enemy lines this weekend – Seth and Mark served us well for the Georgia and Alabama games – we go neutral, catching up with ESPN SEC blogger Edward Aschoff (@AschoffESPN). Dude knows his stuff, as I found out when he covered Auburn against Mississippi State and LSU … and he’ll be among the masses covering this national semifinal also known as the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Let’s go 5 Questions-style, for old times’ sake.

Aaron Brenner, WarEagleExtra.com: Both Georgia and Alabama had their gut-check moments this year: the Bulldogs got slaughtered at South Carolina and momentum was slow to return, while the Crimson Tide were knocked off on their own field by Texas A&M and nearly taken out of the national title picture. Is there a hidden advantage to being humbled on the way to the postseason?

Edward Aschoff, ESPN.com: I think so. Obviously, no team ever wants to lose, but when you have so much talent and everyone is telling you just how good you are, it can be nice to get humbled in some form or fashion. For Alabama and Georgia, their humbling moments came from losses. Jarvis Jones told me this week that losing that game made the defense realize how great it wasn’t. It made those players realize that talent alone wasn’t going to win games. They had to come together more as a unit and they had to throw away the arrogance. They knew how talented they were, but they weren’t playing like it. For Alabama, I think it just made them mad. They’d heard about how there were holes in the secondary and they showed it against LSU and A&M. You know how much those Alabama players/coaches hate being told they aren’t perfect.

Brenner: AJ McCarron has the big-game clutch gene, but Aaron Murray has the big-time stats. Who has the advantage Saturday at quarterback?

Aschoff: I think McCarron does. The first year that he was a starter, he played in and won the national championship. Remember, he hasn’t been here in the SEC Championship before. He went straight to the big game, but he played arguably his best game in an Alabama uniform. And the coaches told him they wanted him to control the game, not Trent Richardson. That’s huge. Murray has historically struggled in big games. He has just three wins against Top-25 teams and if not for an awful offensive performance from Florida, he wouldn’t even be in Atlanta after he threw three interceptions against the Gators. He told me this spring that he has a tendency to take on too much responsibility in big games and loses trust in his players. That makes him force throws, which lead to turnovers. He can’t be “Big Game Aaron” on Saturday because the pressure is on, and there’s more on him than McCarron.

Brenner: Manti Te’o gets all this talk about Heisman candidacy, but none of that seems to go Jarvis Jones’ way. Where do you rank Jones nationally, and how huge a game does he need to have to give Georgia a chance?

Aschoff: He is a game-changer. He’s like a bigger, stronger, more terrifying version of the Honey Badger. He finds ways to get to every play. He hunts the ball down like the Tyrann Mathieu did at LSU last year. Just look at the Florida game. You could argue that the Bulldogs don’t win that game without Jones making all of those plays. If he hadn’t have been injured this season, I think he’d get a lot more love nationally. Te’o is great, but you could argue that Jones, Damontre Moore (Texas A&M) and Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) are just as good, if not better in the way that they dominate and change games. Georgia needs him to have a big game because Alabama is extremely balanced and Jones has the ability to take take momentum away.

Brenner: The cheapest ticket on StubHub for the SEC Championship Game is floating around $300. You can get in pretty easily to the ACC title game for 3 bucks. What does this tell us?

Aschoff: That tells you that the SEC championship game is the hottest ticket in the country because it actually means something every year. You’ll see Gators fans, LSU fans and Gamecocks fans at this thing because it is a semi-final for the national championship game and it has been for the last seven years. No other conference can say that, especially the ACC.

Brenner: Straight up, who do you like to run this town Saturday night? Tide or Dawgs?

Aschoff: I have the Tide winning 28-17. I just think that Alabama is angry. The Tide wanted to be undefeated and wanted to prove the doubters wrong. It didn’t help getting into the national championship. It destroyed its last two inferior opponents and it wants to do the same to Georgia. I don’t think Georgia’s line can keep Murray upright all game and I just think that with some of these players seeing two national championships before, the bright lights won’t get to Alabama. Did I mention that Alabama is angry and is ready to prove people wrong again?

June 20, 2012

BCS commissioners endorse a seeded four-team playoff model

The wave of change that appears to be sweeping over college football this offseason took another big step forward on Wednesday when the men who actually have the power to create a playoff finally got behind the issue publicly. For the moment, the selection process, and a bunch of the other particulars, still have to be worked out, but the 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick are behind a plan they can send to the presidents’.

“We are excited to be on the threshold of creating a new post-season structure for college football that builds on the great popularity of our sport. We take our responsibility to our universities, our presidents, and to student-athletes seriously and we’re determined to make this great sport even more popular.

“At our meeting with the Presidential Oversight Committee next week, we will present our views so the presidents can make their decisions. On many issues we have achieved widespread consensus; on some issues, important and valuable alternatives have been suggested.

We have developed a consensus behind a four-team, seeded playoff, while recognizing that the presidents will certainly present their views, including a discussion of a Plus-One. We also discussed various selection methods and look forward to having these discussions with the presidents.

“We are getting very close and we look forward to next week’s meeting. We have already had extensive discussions with our presidents and it remains important to note that all final decisions will be made by the presidents, either at next week’s meeting or at whatever date is appropriate.”

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February 22, 2012

BCS releases statement from meetings in Dallas

Multiple reports have suggested that the Bowl Championship Series will change when its current contract ends in 2013, meaning a new system could be put in place for the BCS for the 2014 season.

Almost any change is reportedly on the table, a fact Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany confirmed in early January.

But the most likely change that has been tossed around is the possibility of a plus-one, which would include a semifinal for the top four teams in the country, followed by the national championship game a week later.

The Sporting News, in fact, reported earlier this week that the plus-one system had become the preferred route for BCS administrators.

In a statement released after two days of meetings in Dallas, the BCS did not specify what changes were discussed, but for what it’s worth, here’s the statement from the BCS.

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“In an effort to grow college football’s great popularity and success, we just completed two days of productive meetings in Dallas, Texas.

We have until the fall of this year to finalize any possible changes to our current structure. That’s when contractual obligations require us to begin negotiations with our television carrier for future coverage decisions. We have a self-imposed deadline of sometime this summer to decide what changes we will propose to our governing bodies for football’s post-season. It’s still early in our process and we will continue to meet with our conferences and review options.

Whatever we do, we want to protect college football’s regular season which is the best and most meaningful in sports. We want to preserve the great bowl tradition while making it better and more attractive. We also have heard the message about playing bowl games closer to or on January 1, the way it used to be.

As we proceed, we will evaluate the many pros and cons of numerous possible changes. Every idea has exciting up sides, as well as complicated consequences. From the realities of the calendar to the issues presented in terms of venues such as who hosts games, we have tremendous responsibilities and opportunities.

The bottom line is we will continue to talk about how to make a great sport even better for student-athletes, fans and everyone who loves college football.”

November 27, 2011

Links: Auburn remains unranked

Photo by Robin Trimarchi

From what I’ve been seeing and reading, Alabama all but punched its ticket to the national championship game by blowing out Auburn in Saturday’s Iron Bowl, and the Crimson Tide may have also struck the final blow on Auburn’s chance at being in the polls this week. The Tigers were already unranked in both human polls, but they had been hanging at No. 24 in the BCS. After the loss to Alabama, though, Auburn fell out of the BCS standings for the first time all season.

At least one interesting note out of the polls. All five of Auburn’s losses came to ranked teams, including four teams in the top 15, all SEC teams. At the top, at the very least, the SEC appears to be as strong as ever.

I’ll have more on Auburn after Gene Chizik’s weekly teleconference in the early evening, or if anything else breaks later today. That’s not a statement with any knowledge behind it, I’m just hedging my bets after a slew of coaching moves greeted me on Twitter this morning. For more from Chizik’s press conference and more on Auburn in 140 characters, make sure to follow the blog on Twitter.

National Rankings

Offense

  • Total offense: 104.
  • Rush offense: 40.
  • Passing yards: 106.
  • Pass efficiency: 83.
  • Scoring: 82.
  • Turnovers: 61.

Defense

  • Total defense: 78.
  • Rush defense: 99.
  • Passing yards: 48.
  • Pass efficiency: 85.
  • Scoring: 79.
  • Turnovers created: 49.
  • Turnover margin: 59.

From the other locker room

AROUND THE SEC

February 15, 2011

Former Auburn safety Zac Etheridge signing copies of the Ledger-Enquirer’s book Saturday

File this under shameless self promotion: former Tigers safety Zac Etheridge will be signing copies of the Ledger-Enquirer’s book about Auburn’s BCS national championship run on Saturday at the Kinnucan’s in Auburn from 1-3 p.m CT.

It’s the perfect opportunity to pick up a copy of “All In: Auburn’s Run for the National Championship” for only $19.95. The 160-page coffee table book features my articles from throughout the season and has plenty of photographs.
Autographed copies are available to order on Facebook for fans who cannot make it to the signing.
Kinnucan’s, for those who don’t know, is at 1199 South Donahue.

January 22, 2011

Video: Auburn fans celebrate a championship

Here’s some video of today’s BCS championship celebration at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Enjoy.

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January 21, 2011

Information about Saturday’s BCS championship celebration at Jordan-Hare Stadium

Here’s a full rundown of Saturday’s festivities, courtesy of the fine folks at Auburn media relations (all times CT). If you can’t make it, the Auburn athletics website will be broadcasting it live:

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Auburn University will celebrate the Tigers’ 2010 National Football Championship Saturday, January 22 at 1 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The celebration will last approximately one hour and admission is free. Tickets are not required to enter the stadium, and all seating is general admission and will be first-come, first-served.

Fans can access the stadium via gates 2, 4, 5 and 7 on the east side of the stadium and gates 12, 14, 15, and 17 on the west side. All gates will open at 11 a.m., two hours prior to the event.
Auburn students with a valid Auburn Ignited card will be allowed to stand on the field. Students can access the field though the field level gates located at the northwest and northeast corners of the stadium below sections 46 and 35.
Due to the academic calendar, public parking will be available at the hayfields on South Donahue Drive. Shuttles will run from the hayfields from 10 a.m. until two hours post-event. Donahue Drive will be closed from Samford to War Eagle Way starting at 5:00 a.m.

A limited number of disabled parking spaces will be available in the east Coliseum lot on the day of the event.

Stadium concessions on the lower level will be open for this event and no outside food or drinks will be allowed into the stadium.

The AU Team Shop will be open before, during and after the event at several locations around and inside the stadium and at the Auburn Arena location. Officially licensed National Championship products, apparel and more will be available for purchase.

A limited number of official National Championship posters will be distributed free of charge as fans exit the stadium following the event.

Approximately 30 minutes following the celebration, a reverse Tiger Walk will be held from Stadium Gate 10 towards the Athletics Complex.

Celebration Timing Schedule

6:00 a.m. Street Barricades are set up Athletics Reserved Parking Lots Open
10:00 a.m. Tiger Transit Services Begin
11:00 a.m. Gates Open
1:00 p.m. Program Begins
30 Minutes post Reverse Tiger Walk
3:30 p.m. Auburn Arena Gate Open
5:00 p.m. Auburn Basketball vs. Alabama

Parking/Traffic

  • East Coliseum – Donor RVs will be allowed to park here on Friday. The lot will be released Saturday morning for public HC parking. Access from Samford to Biggio.
  • Parking Deck – Held for Scholarship Donor parking starting at 6 a.m. Saturday. Access via Duncan Dr.
  • Auburn Arena Lot – Basketball Scholarship Donor parking. Access via Wire Rd. Basketball parking pass required.
  • Hayfields & other lots will be open to public. (Shuttle will run from Hayfield lot beginning at 10 a.m.)
  • Small hay field lot at Lem Morrison – Only Public RV Parking location
  • Off campus Tiger Transit pick up locations include: Facilities, Mall, Tiger Town & Sams Club
  • The public is being directed to park in the Hayfield – East lots. Also, all campus lots NOT listed above are available for legally parked cars (excludes R lots).
  • Public RV parking – West Hayfield lots, first come first served
  • Tiger transit will run from the hayfields, take a left on Samford, right on Biggio and drop at the Coliseum turn around.
Stadium Access
  • EOG will staff bag searchers. Gates open at 11 a.m.Fans – Access the stadium through Gates 2, 4, 5 & 7 on the East and 12, 14, 15 & 17 on the West.
  • Students – Access the stadium via any open gate. Access the field through the field access gates on the NW & NE corners (sections 36 or 46). Auburn Ignited card required.
  • Main concourse large concessions stands and all restrooms will be open. East / West club restrooms will be open.

January 16, 2011

Special section: Auburn’s season to remember

The Ledger-Enquirer ran a special section today to commemorate Auburn’s first football national championship since 1957. In case you didn’t get your copy today — and I hear it’s got a bunch of snazzy photos and extra stuff — here are my stories from it.