Monday, December 19, 2005

Auburn's Basketball Program Is In Bad Shape

By Jay Coulter
Football Saturday In The South

Basketball is something I don’t usually cover on this blog. Why? Because there is usually not much to say. But yesterday, on a whim I decided to head over to the Coliseum with my Dad to watch legendary Temple coach John Chaney bring his Owls to town to play the Tigers.

Let’s get the game coverage out of the way now. Jeff Lebo’s young team was inspiring. With a team made up of mostly freshman and sophomores the Tigers handed Chaney the second worse defeat of his storied career. Auburn dominated from the start and routed Temple 73-42.

I need to admit something. I don’t attend many Auburn basketball games. I maybe go to two a year. Shame on me. From surveying the crowd yesterday I appear to be part of the norm. Let’s just say that most of the fans came dressed like old wooden seats.

My Dad and I were discussing the state of Auburn basketball and came up with some observations that I’d like to share with you. You might disagree.

Auburn is without question the worst basketball program in the SEC from an overall facilities and support perspective. Walking into the Coliseum was like stepping back into a scene from Hoosiers. The seats are old, uncomfortable and creaky. There are still seats behind the basket that appear to be folding chairs that have been glued down to the floor.

The concourse looks absolutely horrible. There are Division II programs that have much better playing facilities. It sounded like the PA announcer was a student. His voice was weak and he made many mistakes. Quite honestly it was embarrassing.

The half-time performance was the worse I’ve ever seen. There was a unicycle group (no, I’m not kidding) that performed on the court. Many were made up of children. I can live with that. Kids on unicycles, while not the most pleasant thing to watch, are something that has a cute quality to it.

It was who was with the kids that were so bad. Here’s a rule we should all live by: under no circumstances should anyone over the age of 12 ever ride a unicycle in public. Watching men in their 40’s and 50’s ride unicycles at a basketball game is something no one should be subjected to ever. Whoever booked this group should be fired today. I know it’s less than a week before Christmas but please fire them today.

Taking this young, exciting team out of the equation, Auburn basketball is a joke. It’s a shame. We talk about Mississippi State and Vanderbilt in football but we are just as bad when it comes to basketball.

I admit I’m partly to blame. I don’t come often enough. After watching that group yesterday I’ll be back. This is an exciting young bunch of players who probably won’t win much this year. But if Jeff Lebo can keep this team together for four years they have a chance to be special.

There should be a huge monument erected to Cliff Ellis. How Ellis was able to build a team with these facilities and support is amazing. Why we fired him I have no idea. Why Lebo came to Auburn I’m still not sure. But I’m glad he did. Lebo will eventually put a winning product on the court.

It’s time for Auburn to match Lebo's passion. We need a new Coliseum in the worst way. We need a more aggressive marketing campaign for this team. The players and coaches deserve it. And most importantly, so do the fans.

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