Monday, July 31, 2006

Posts Will Be Spotty This Week

Our posts will be a little spotty this week. I'm working on a big project for my day job and will be away from the computer for parts of the week. Posts will resume on a regular basis by the weekend. War Eagle!

Friday, July 28, 2006

East vs. West: The Great Divide

Here's a great read from the Birmingham News about the two divisions in the SEC. It's hard to believe that South Carolina and Arkansas have been in the conference nearly 15 years. It's a rather lengthy article (I recommend printing it) about how the two divisions were created and how they've fared.

They are remarkably close in wins. Despite the emergence of Florida and Tennessee in the early 1990's, the Western Division still has a better winning percentage than the East ( .574 to .565) and a better overall conference record. This is a good way to kill some time at work on Friday afternoon. Enjoy...

Click here to read...

Email at

Say It Ain't So Charles

Nobody is a bigger Charles Barkley fan than I am. I loved him at Auburn and in the NBA. I love to watch him "tell it like it is" on TNT. And most of all, I love the way he supports Auburn. He never fails to give Auburn a plug on national television when given the opportunity.

But the news that Sir Charles is considering a run for the state house in 2010 is craziness. Yesterday Barkley commented to a group of 900 school board member from across the South, "Alabama, that's my home. I'm thinking about running for governor; they need the help," Barkley said. "If it wasn't for Arkansas and Mississippi, we'd be dead last in everything. I think we can do better."

In politics, speaking your mind is not always the best thing. Being told that your state is last in most everything (while partially true) doesn't exactly fire up the electorate for you. My guess is, Barkley is just trying to get a rise out of people. He knows his talent lies as a basketball analysis and author. Charles, we love you but keep your day job and keeping plugging our Tigers every chance you get.

Click here to read the whole story...

Email us at

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Boston College On The Horizon?

It looks as if Auburn is moving in the right direction when it comes to scheduling. Jay Jacobs commented yesterday that the Tigers would like to schedule at least one BCS caliber non-conference game each year.

He confirmed that he's in talks with Boston College about a home and home series that could begin as early as 2010. While not exactly BCS caliber, Auburn has Big East member South Florida coming on the schedule next year. That game might not have the glamour of USC or Boston College but it could be just as dangerous.

Auburn's contract with Washington State is for this year only and does not include a trip back west next season. I'm excited about the possibility of playing Boston College. They are much more appealing now that they are in the ACC. And besides, there are worse things to do than taking a trip to New England in the fall.

Click here to

Email us at

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

SEC Media Days Takes The Stage

There are two sure signs that football is just around the corner. The first is in June when the preseason magazines hit the stands. The second is the start of SEC Media Days in Birmingham.

Today we get a little bit closer to kickoff with the start of the three-day media event. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville will be in front of the media on Friday starting at 8:40 am CST. As is custom, he'll be taking along two seniors with him, wide receiver Courtney Taylor and linebacker Will Herring.

You can bet most of the questions will center around the Sociology Department story. Coach Tuberville has done an excellent job of handling it so far and I expect the same on Friday.

Alabama coach Mike Shula was a guest on the Colin Cowherd radio show (ESPN Radio) Thursday morning and was asked point blank about the situation at Auburn. I don't give props to the Alabama coach often, but I have to give him credit. He stayed away from it despite Cowherd's prodding. Cowherd seemed to be having fun with the Auburn story.

Cowherd's producer, simply known as Compass on the show is an Auburn graduate and keeps Cowherd straight on the Tigers. Two weeks ago Paul Finebaum was a guest on the show and was asked if Auburn cheats. Finebaum's answer was, "without question, yes." This guy gets more and more slimy by the day. He'll say anything to make a buck.

Anyway, didn't mean to get off on a rant. Here's this week's SEC Media Days schedule...

Alabama's Mike Shula
Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson
Georgia's Mark Richt
Kentucky's Rich Brooks

Mississippi's Ed Orgeron
Tennessee's Phil Fulmer (If he shows up)
Arkansas' Houston Nutt
South Carolina's Steve Spurrier

Auburn's Tommy Tuberville
LSU's Les Miles
Florida's Urban Meyer
Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom

Email us at

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

This Is What Football Saturday In The South Is All About!

Here's a great article by Memphis Commercial-Appeal writer Ron Higgins. In the article he talks about what makes college football so special in the south. If this doesn't get you ready for kickoff nothing will. Enjoy...

Ron Higgins has been covering college football for 28 years. On the eve of the 2006 season, he explains why Southern college football is a year-round -- and intensely personal -- subject. With apologies to the Turner South network and its "My South" promotion ...


A mixed marriage is an Alabama alum married to an Auburn alum, or an Ole Miss alum to a Mississippi State alum.

We don't think we invented college football, we just believe we perfected it.

It's cool for women to call the Hogs and for men to bark like Dogs.

An RV is considered a fall vacation home.

It's an honor to be arrested for trying to tear down a goalpost.

It was the most people I had ever seen.

It was the loudest noise I had ever heard.

I'd never actually seen drunk people before.

And Grandma, why is that live tiger in a cage sitting next to the bench?

Welcome to my introduction to college football, way back in November 1962. I went to a game in LSU's Tiger Stadium between LSU and TCU, won by LSU 5-0.

Funny thing is, after all these years as a sportswriter -- 28 and counting -- I've never seen another 5-0 football game. But what I remember of that night is something that gets me revved up every year, something that gets me through the dog days of summer, into preseason practice and finally another season.

It's the passion.

We like our other sports in the South, but we love college football every day of every year. We love the pregame parties, the games, the postgame parties, the Monday morning breakdown of the game at the office water cooler, recruiting season, spring practice, summer workouts ... it goes on and on.

In the South, we probably can't tell you the exact date of when man first walked on the moon. But we can tell you that a Georgia freshman running back named Herschel Walker ran over a Tennessee defensive back named Bill Bates. We can tell you it was Dana Moore who kicked the game-winning field goal for Mississippi State when the Bulldogs snapped No. 1 Alabama's 28-game win streak in 1980.

We can tell you former Alabama quarterback Joe Namath's middle name is Willie, that former Ole Miss coach Billy Brewer's nickname is "Dog," that Alabama beat Tennessee and Peyton Manning the exact number of times that the University of Memphis did (once) during Manning's career and that Steve Spurrier is the only person in SEC history to win the Heisman Trophy as a player and later guide a team to a national championship as a coach.

Once college football in the South grabs you, it never lets go.

It recruits you from the cradle.

My 12-year old son Jack is an LSU fan, his friend Sam is a Memphis fan, another friend Alex is a Tennessee fan, another friend Brad is an Arkansas fan and another friend Evan is a Florida fan. They settle their differences by playing each other on the EA Sports NCAA College Football video game. College football in the South also keeps you feeling as spry as a spring chicken.

Consider my dear late English grandmother, who lived to be almost 100 years old. She was kept going by two things -- hot tea and following her LSU Tigers. Thank the Lord her tea time never interfered with kickoff.

In my college football South:

Archie Manning is forever scrambling and giving LSU fits, Billy Cannon never quits weaving 89 yards through an Ole Miss kick defense and into immortality on a humid Halloween night, ol' Larry Munson can't stop screaming "Run Lindsay Run," Bear Bryant still looks fashionable in his houndstooth hat and the Majors boys never quit dancing through defenses in the crisp Saturday afternoon sunshine of Neyland Stadium.
Beautiful coeds never age, even 30 years after graduation. Once a Southern belle, always a Southern belle.

Roll Tide, War Eagle, Hunker down Hairy Dawgs and Geaux Tigers are acceptable substitutes for hello.

Pregame parties are almost as good as the games themselves.

It's not unusual for season tickets to be a major point of contention dividing property in divorce proceedings.

No one south of the Mason-Dixon seemingly gets tired of talking about college football. It doesn't matter what time of year it is, Southern college football fans sweat wins and losses, blue-chip recruits who commit and de-commit, who's going to be the second-team right offensive tackle in spring practice and whether an incoming recruit has academically qualified and is attending summer school.

It's why radio sports talk shows in the South consider themselves fortunate. They have a built-in, 365-day-a-year topic. "If I want the phone lines to light up and get more calls than I can handle, all I have to say is something like "Tim Tebow is going to give Chris Leak a run for his money as Florida's quarterback,' " said former college assistant Max Howell, whose daily three-hour show "Max-ed Out" is heard in 70 markets across the South. "You won't see that type of response in Kansas City or St. Louis."

Those places have long been pro markets. And perhaps that is part of the secret why college football is still king in the South, despite the influx in the past 40 years of pro sports teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL and major league baseball.

"Passion has always run deeper in the South for college football, and I think it's rooted in the fact there was always a lot more to do at other places around the country," said Marvin West, former longtime Knoxville News-Sentinel and Scripps Howard sports editor, who was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame on Thursday night. "For the longest time, there were no professional sports in the South, and college football was the game. It was in every Southern town."
West said he recalls going to a UCLA-Southern Cal game in Los Angeles, and being stunned by the lack of enthusiasm at a rival game. "There were 33,000 people in the stands and nobody cared," West said. "Tennessee could play North Texas and tickets would be scalped. It's that way all over the South. Look at the size of the stadiums. "It's more than the game. It's the pageantry. It's the bands."

Jackie Sherrill, who was a head coach at Washington State, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M and Mississippi State, said that college football in the South is deeply woven in the region's fabric of life. It's a social setting, since people plan all year for those 11 or 12 weeks," said Sherrill, who was born in Oklahoma and raised as a Sooners fan, but who played for Bryant at Alabama.

"It's like a religion. It's like being a Catholic, or Methodist or Baptist or Presbyterian or Jewish. If you're an Alabama fan or a Florida fan or an LSU fan, you are true to that team always. You have an unshakable belief, a faith. And college football in the South may have done more than anything else to advance race relations. I played on an Alabama team that was the first to play an integrated team when we played Nebraska in a bowl game."

In my college football South:

Five-star dining can be on a grill under a tent in The Grove, a spread of hors d'oeuvres on a white table cloth on a boat on Lake Loudon or next to a crawfish boiler in a Tiger Stadium parking lot.

A cowbell is a fashion accessory.

Football stadiums are considered cathedrals, and it sure costs a lot more these days to sit in those pews, doesn't it?

You always find a way to get one of your buddies, Jack Daniels, into games undetected.

Sunday is a day of worship and reflection, meaning you pray your head coach gets fired because you've been obsessing why he never changes his predictable offense.

Nobody is happier to start a college football season than head coaches.
For some, it's the anticipation of a new year, a fresh start. That feeling never wanes, no matter how many years a coach has been in the business.

"If you don't get jacked up at this time of year, you shouldn't be coaching," said Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, who has been involved in college football as a coach or a player for almost 40 years.

"There's a sense of anticipation. You can feel it around the office. You can see it in your players. "It's a new team and a new year. Last year is history. You've got new players excited about their first time in a college uniform. You've got veterans who can't wait to get back at it."

For many coaches, it's the relief of finally having daily contact again with their teams. Since NCAA rules prohibit coaches from having any sort of practices from the end of the spring semester to the start of the fall semester, coaches sweat through roughly two months hoping their players don't get into trouble off the field.

"In June and July, coaches are the best deep-sea divers in the world," said Pete Cordelli of Memphis, a former head coach at Kent State and former assistant at such locales at Notre Dame, Minnesota and Arkansas. "Because every time their phone rings late at night during those two months, they hold their breath."

Those coaches know a phone call could mean a player arrest. Or a car accident. Or worse. "The summer is a scary time of year," Alabama coach Mike Shula said, "just because there are so many things that can happen out there to kids ages 18-to-22 on college campuses."

That's why it's a relief to start practice, to know where your players are. They know this is what they work all year toward and so does the head coach. "For all the things that go into being a head coach -- the recruiting, the administrative work, the academics, the public relations -- the thing you live for is the season," Fulmer said. "You live for those Saturday afternoons in the fall."

In my college football South:

January means bowls, February is signing day, March and April is spring practice, May means preseason magazines hit the stands, June is hoping your star player doesn't get arrested, July is for buying a new cap for the season, August is preseason practice, September through November is bowl bliss or bust and December is firing and hiring of new coaches.

It doesn't even matter if you live don't in the South. Once you become a Southern college football fan, forever it follows you. This past week on a vacation to New York City, I walked in Ben Benson's, regarded as the best steak restaurant in the Big Apple.

"There's a guy you've got to meet," restaurant manager Jimmy O'Brien told me. "He talks about college football all year. He's my bartender, Mark Moody, he's from Tennessee and he's a huge Vols' fan." O'Brien introduced me to Moody, and the first thing he said was, "Do you think (David) Cutcliffe has helped (Erik) Ainge? And did you see where that kid (signee Ramone Johnson) is eligible?"

Yes, in my college football South, there are no boundaries.

Email us at

Monday, July 24, 2006

Who Has The SEC's Best Looking Uniforms?

Southern recently rated the best looking uniforms in the SEC. Auburn came in at number five. I obviously take exception to that. Is there anything more beautiful than that interlocking AU?

To make matters worse, they rated Alabama number 2. Is there any uniform in the country more plain than UAT's? Number 2? Please! They took Penn State's uniform and made it crimson. Share with us your thoughts. Here are their rankings...

1. LSU - Sure the Tigers only have one look that they wear most of the time, the white on gold, but the color scheme screams marti gras and the uniform is very inimitable and original. The helmet is one of the coolest in college football and has had the same logo design since the late 1970s. The shoulder stripes stand out and give the jersey flavor.

2. Alabama – The quintessential traditional look. No team in the game may be more identified with their uniforms, namely their helmets, than the Alabama Crimson Tide. Props for staying old school and for staying with what works. Please don’t ever change. (They already have... They have that yellow streak running down their back)

3. Georgia – A fresh look that has for the most part stayed the same the last 40 years. The logo and the helmet are classic and just look good on the football field. The “silver britches” as they are referred to are a very real tradition in Athens. The Bulldogs look best, in our estimation, on the road in white.

4. Ole Miss – Clean-cut but bold and professional, makes us want to go tailgate in The Grove. The shoulder bands look tremendous and the color scheme looks so much better than the early 1990s model. We like the Rebels’ alternate red jerseys, too.

5. Auburn – The interlocking logo looks great on the helmet and the orange and white stripes on the sleeves really stand out. The overall look is bold, mature and time-tested. The Tigers have one of the more classic uniforms in college football.

6. Vanderbilt – Black and gold goes well together and we really like the new Vanderbilt helmet. The “V” inside the star is a neat idea and dates back to the program’s 1970s roots. The trim down the pants looks very nice

7. Florida – The Gators stay here assuming we don’t see anymore orange shoulders, that experiment was rough. The colors make you think of the Sunshine State and Florida has a sweet helmet and logo that stands out and is unique to the school. The home blue tops with white pants look the best.

8. South Carolina – The colors have been adjusted in recent years, but the Gamecocks have a nice setup and very cool helmets. The “C” with the rooster inside is unique only to Carolina. We like the black and red stripes down the helmet and on the side of the pants.

9. Tennessee – The Volunteers are orange, very orange, but they get points for tradition and consistency. When UT is playing at home, the sea of orange on the field and in the stands is almost blinding. There is a lot of history in that “T” on the helmet. On the road, the ‘Vols look very plain.

10. Arkansas – The Razorbacks have a full hog on their helmet, even their rivals have to admit that is kind of neat. He has been there since 1964. The uniform isn’t overly impressive, but not bad by any means either. Just doesn’t have the immediate appeal of some of the others in the league.

11. Kentucky – The new look is serviceable, not bad considering some of the other so-called upgrades we have seen in college football. When the Wildcats go with blue tops and pants, to go along with their helmets, that’s just an awful lot of blue to look at. If Kentucky simply adopted the threads worn on October 2nd of 2004, we would be much bigger fans.

12. Mississippi State – Not ugly by any means, but kind of a boring, plain format lacking the history and tradition of some of the others on this list. The Bulldogs have only had their current helmet look since the beginning of the 2004 season.

Email us at

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Gundlach Case Nothing More Than Bad PR For University

I've hesitated to write about the James Gundlach case on this blog. First off, I think it's clearly more of an academic issue than athletics. Courses like this have been around since the beginning of time. I'll be the first to admit that during my time on the Plains if I could find an easy elective, I went after it.

Did Thomas Petee take it too far? It certainly looks that way. From this view there's no doubt that he was offering the mother of all crip courses. But the fact remains that only 18 out of 200+ students taking the course were athletes.

That doesn't make it an athletic department issue. It makes it an Auburn University issue. Is it embarrassing to Auburn? Without question, yes it is. Does it go on at other universities? You can bet that it's happening all over the SEC and every other conference.

In the end, this will be nothing more than bad PR for Auburn. My guess is that a few heads will roll in the Sociology department, namely Petee's. NCAA head Miles Brand has already indicated that this is more of an institutional issue than NCAA problem. My guess is that it will remain that way.

As for Gundlach, there are a million theories out there as to why he did it. I'm sure he's like most professors at big football schools. He's probably jealous of the attention and money paid to the Auburn football program. He's short-sighted and doesn't see the impact Auburn football has on academics. I'm sure he doesn't realize the library would be non-existent along with many other academic programs without football revenues.

Combine this with rumor of him being passed over for department head in favor of Petee and you have all the cause in the world for him to turn his guns on the University.

Email us at

Here's Your Weekend Primer

Just in case any of you have forgotten that feeling... Here's a reminder...

Click here...

Email us at

Friday, July 21, 2006

Most Underrated Revenge Game Of 2006 - Auburn vs. South Carolina

Here's a link to a story on Every Day Should Be Saturday, the great blog done by a group of Florida enthusiast. In the story, they talk about the most underrated revenge games of this season. One of the games mentioned is Auburn-South Carolina and the return of Kenny Irons to South Carolina. It's a pretty good read.

Click here to read the story...

Email us at

More Than Half of Auburn Starters Make All-SEC Team

Unbelievable! More than half of Auburn's starters were named to the preseason All SEC Team on Thursday. The Tigers lead the conference with 14 players being named to the list.

Led by tailback Kenny Irons, the Tigers put seven players on the first team with Irons including, Cole Bennett, Tim Duckworth, David Irons, Will Herring, Quentin Groves and Kody Bliss.

It's safe to say that Auburn is now reloading every year. Not since the Dye era have we seen anything like this. If our defensive secondary steps up and we get some support at the wide receiver position this team can rival the 2004 group.

Click here to read the story...

Email us at

Montae Pitts Transfer To Jacksonville State - Thank God!

The Montae Pitts experiment ended at Auburn on Thursday. The maligned senior may go down as the worst big-play cornerback in Auburn history. There was nothing more sickening than watching the back of that number 19 jersey trying to run down a receiver. For the life of me, I never understood how he made it on the field.

You may remember that last month, Pitts was arrested on DUI charges. I will give him this, he left with class. He placed the blame on himself and moved on.

Click here to read the story...

Email us at

Monday, July 17, 2006

Are You Ready For Some Football?

It's that time of year again... Thank God! Auburn football is back and so are we. Don't let that hippie Sociology professor get you down. I mean, have you looked at this cat?

Keep your focus on the field. This year could be very special. We'll be back up and posting by the weekend. Thanks for the many emails from all of you. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and hearing yours this season. War Eagle!