Friday, December 31, 2010

I Know That Laugh

Reports are trickling in that Boom Muschamp at Florida is on the verge of hiring Charlie "The Hutt" Weis as his offensive coordinator.

Granted, it's an ESPN report, so the odds of accuracy are somewhere below Weis's winning percentage at Notre Dame, but that's no reason not to let the guffawing begin in earnest...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Win It For... Auburn

My old bud Lein Shory has set up a new blog to collect "Win It For..." thoughts from Auburndom before the BCS game. Please have a look, pass on the link, and by all means, add your own comments. I think it's a very worthy effort.

Here's my offering:

Because of my immense respect for previous Auburn teams that found themselves, through no fault of their own, on the wrong side of "national championship" popularity contests, I'm hesitant to put this--entirely wonderful--current team on a pedestal by itself. That understood, it's still more than appropriate for us to remember our heritage, on and off the field, as we prepare for this last step towards another undefeated season.

So win it, Tigers. Win it for Shug Jordan and Pat Dye and (yes) Terry Bowden and Tommy Tuberville, too. Win it for every coach who spent those endless hours away from their families so that you and your predecessors and the ones who will come after you could have opportunities like this. They laid the foundations that you stand on today.

Win it for Jimmy Sidle and Terry Beasley and Lionel James and Dennis Collier and Carlo Cheattom and Dowe Aughtman and James Bostic and Walter Tate and Mike Pelton and Thomas Bailey and Dameyune Craig and Courtney Taylor and Travis Williams and Brandon Cox and Ben Tate. Win it for every guy who wore that blue jersey and laid his guts on the line, again and again and again.

Win it for the ones who aren't with us today. Win it for Virgil Starks and John Thrower and Dean Foy, all lost on the cusp of this magical season. Win it for Greg Pratt and Ronnie Ross and Erk Russell and Connie Frederick. Win it for every spirit who stands on that sideline beside you.

Go win it, Auburn. Win it for all of them, and win it for yourselves. You have fought the fight and paid the price, and now it is your time to claim your place among the legends.

Go win it all.

Win It For... Auburn.

Tiger Tales

A large group of Pat Dye's former players, led by Wayne Bylsma, has put together Tiger Tales, a book of their best stories about their years at Auburn.  I had a very small hand in helping out with editing and formatting and such, and I'm here to tell you, there is some very, very funny and touching stuff in this book.  Here's the official blurb:

Tiger Tales is a new book comprised of stories from the Dye Era at Auburn. It began as a gift to give to Coach Dye for this Christmas, but has evolved into a gift for all Auburn fans. All of the entries were written by former Dye players about Coach Dye, their assistant coaches, and each other. It is filled with heartfelt gratitude toward Coach Dye for the opportunity he gave many of them along with some hilarious accounts of shenanigans that took place behind the scenes. Here are a couple of excerpts:

·         From Gordon Stone, “Men, you will either get better or worse but you will not stay the same."

·         From David Rocker, here's a Coach Dye classic. He said several times before games during my time on the plains, "Jawbone to jawbone, cheek to cheek. Were gonna find out what ya momma and daddy done put in ya.”

·         From Kelsey Crook about Coach Joe Whitt, “Son you so stupid, if I put your brain in a bird it would fly backwards. Now do it again! And get there!!!!

·         Coach Wayne Hall to Lamar Rogers, In practice one day, nats were flying around Lamar Roger’s mouth. Coach Hall looked at him and asked, “Son, did you brush your teeth today?” Lamar said, “No sir.” Coach Hall screamed, “Take your ass to the dorm and brush your teeth.” Lamar jogged up to the dorm in full uniform to brush his teeth.

·         From Kevin Porter, Aundray Bruce comes to me and Tracy’s room one morning on game day before we head out for Tiger walk.  He looks sad and despondent.  Rock asks him, “Aundray, what’s wrong?  Are you O.K?  Aundray says “I don’t know.  I’m scared.”   Rock says, “Scared of what?”  Aundray says, “I’m scared I might kill someone out there today.”

The book has 80 pages of recollections from Dye’s players, and the forward was contributed by David Housel. The cost is $18.00 each; $10.00 from every copy will be donated to the AFLC scholarship fund.

To order a copy, e-mail Wayne Bylsma at along with Dena Quinton at his office the following information:

·         Name and shipping address
·         Quantity
·         Payment method, you can send a check or use a credit card. So send me the number and expiration date.  (I prefer credit card)
·         If you want them overnighted, and you have UPS or Fed Ex number we will need that number.
·         We will add the shipping postage or if you do not have an overnight number, we can use my company’s account and we will add that cost to your total.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Chris Low of ESPN needs to check his rulebook. Low writes today:
LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson was the lone SEC player to earn consensus All-America honors this season.

According to the NCAA, unanimous status is given to those who appear on all of the following All-America teams: American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Walter Camp Foundation, Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Associated Press and The Sporting News.

Even though he won the Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding player in college football this season, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton didn't earn consensus All-America status. He was left off the FWAA All-America team.
Incorrect. Per the NCAA's definitions, "consensus" is not the same thing as "unanimous." According to,
The NCAA compiles consensus all-America teams in the sports of Division I-FBS football and Division I men’s basketball. These teams are compiled from a point system computed from at least four different all-America teams named by coaches associations or media sources. The point system consists of three points for first team, two points for second team and three points for third team. No honorable mention or fourth team or lower are used in the computation.

In football, the teams are compiled by position and the player accumulating the most points at each position is named first team consensus all-American. [Basketball rule section omitted by me --WC] If there is a tie at a position in football for first team, or a tie for the final player on the first or second team in basketball, then the players who are tied shall be named to the team.

Currently in football, the five teams used to compile the consensus team are from the Associated Press, the American Football Coaches Association, the Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Foundation.
Having been named the first-team All-American quarterback by three of the five organizations--the AP, the AFCA and the Sporting News (Walter Camp won't announce its All-American team until December 20)--Newton has already qualified for the NCAA's definition of consensus All-American.

Low should run a correction.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Good CFN column by Barrett Sallee on the Malzahn retention here, read the whole thing, but of note:
What seems to be lost in this is the statement that was made with Malzahn’s decision. With so many people assuming that the NCAA hammer may drop on Auburn because of Mississippi State’s recruitment of Cam Newton, Malzahn chose to pass up more money and power to stay at Auburn for another year. That tells me that he’s not concerned about the NCAA at all – and he probably knows more than the rest of us.
Reading any (and I mean any) comment threat in which Auburn is mentioned these days would lead one to believe Sallee is obviously off his rocker here. By my rough estimate, 99.2827% of the internet is firmly convinced that Auburn won't have a football program by mid-2011.

I mean, what could Gus Malzahn possibly know that they don't...?

Doing My Part To Help Jim Delaney

The Big Tweleven announced the names of its new divisions yesterday, and the response has been overwhelming--overwhelmingly negative, that is.  In what will certainly be cited as the canonical example of decisions-by-committee, the original Conference That Can't Count came up with "Legends" and "Leaders" as their divisional names.

Please, hold your applause.

The best zinger, of course, came from Orson Spencer Swindle Hall Mellencamp at EDSBS, who tweeted, "Leaders and Legends are the names of conference rooms at an airport Marriott."

Now, I've had my differences with the Big Ten's leadership in the past, but never let it be said that FTB isn't willing to help when a sister conference is in need. In the spirit of intercollegiate sportsmanship, I hereby offer, gratis, these suggestions for replacement divisional names for the Big Innumerate Conference:

New Big Ten Divisions:

Snow and Ice
Overrated and Irrelevant
Big and Slow
Lose To SEC and Lose To Pac-10
Mackovic and Corso
Also-ran and Never-was
Can't Count and Won't Win

No, really, Jim. Thanks aren't necessary. It was nothing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Malzahn Declines To Go Country, Plans More Rock At Auburn

From Charles Goldberg at the Birmingham News:

The mastermind of Auburn's offense has turned down an offer to become Vanderbilt's head coach.

Gus Malzahn told Vanderbilt that he'll remain as Auburn's offensive coordinator after turning down a lucrative offer from the Commodores, said someone close to the situation. 

Vanderbilt offered him a deal that reportedly would have paid him close to $3 million annually. Auburn is expected to at least double his current $500,000 annual salary. That decision was made before Vanderbilt called.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Word broke this afternoon that "0-For-Auburn" Urban Meyer is stepping down as Florida's head coach for the second time in less than a year.  Florida has a press conference scheduled for 5PM today.

In possibly-related news, Brett Favre has filed a lawsuit against Meyer charging "trademark infringement."

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

New at Rivals: Go Win It All

My column for the SEC Championship Game is up at Rivals' (actually it's been up for a couple of days now; sorry about that).  Here's a preview:

Auburn folks have waited twenty years to really lay the wood to Spurrier in a meaningful game (the 48-7 win over a 7-5 USC in 2005 was certainly nice, but nothing much was riding on it other than workaday conference standings). Old Visor Boy wrecked a lot of Auburn seasons in his Florida heyday, and while the Tigers were able to return the favor a few times, they never did so with an old-fashioned butt-kicking until Saturday. For everybody who lived through 1990 and 1996 and 2000, this one was particularly sweet.

But like the conference schedule and endless rounds of BCS speculation, all that is now in the past for the Tigers. Thanks to the vagaries of television contracts, the magic of 2010 will stretch well into 2011, and the next thirty-five-odd days of December and January are likely to be even more excruciating as those final weeks of pre-season anticipation in August. When all those days of preparation and waiting have finally passed, the lights will go up on college football's biggest stage, and the Tigers will be there.

Despite the recent round of carping from various rivals, the Tigers won't exactly be standing alone in that spotlight. On the field in the aftermath of the SEC Championship, South Carolina's Garcia found AU defensive superstar Nick Fairley, and echoed the command an Ole Miss assistant issued to Newton on the day before Halloween: "Go win it all."
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

Required Reading

Jerry Hinnen, writing at the exquisitely-named Norman Einstein's Sports & Rocket Science Monthly:

By midseason, the comparisons were no longer sacrilege. Once he had vanquished LSU, "Is Cam the new Bo?" had become a legitimate topic of conversation, with the lean firmly towards "Yes." And after he led the comeback at Tuscaloosa in the Iron Bowl, a victory so cerebellum-meltingly improbable we know it could only happen with the aid of one of the football immortals, it was official: he had ascended to the highest pinnacle of Auburn's Mount Olympus. There's a small temple up there, orange and blue columns out front, and it's just Bo and Cam, hangin' out. Pat Sullivan gets to stop by occasionally.

This is why it's difficult to watch Cam. When you realize this is the kind of player you're dealing with, when you know you're witnessing not just sports history but - this being college football in Alabama - actual cultural mythmaking, you process things a little differently. You stay on a mental edge for every offensive down, wondering if this is the play when Newton does something you really might tell your grandchildren about. You evaluate each snap against the impossible standard of your wildest expectations: was that play truly worthy of a Heisman-winning legend? How 'bout that one? You try and file away every detail of the viewing experience for future use, since this is Cam Newton we're talking about. You don't want to only remember where you were and who you were with when he, say, catches a pass against Ole Miss deep in the back of the end zone with the kind of ease that makes you believe he's A.J. Green in the next dimension over; you want to remember what color plastic cup you had in hand, at what angle the sun was coming through the window or over the tip of the stadium, the precise words you swore in your amazement.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

New at Rivals: Camtermath

I have a new column up at Rivals' on the aftermath of the NCAA's eligibility announcement on Cam Newton. Here's a preview:

The world being what it is, a great many people weren't satisfied with this result. ESPN's Joe Schad, having staked his reputation on a hearsay story peddled to him by people with axes to grind, pouted on camera and jumped on every opportunity to suggest that there might be more revelations somewhere down the road.

Montgomery attorney Donald Jackson, who unlike Schad, has vast experience in NCAA cases, scoffed at that notion in an interview with the Birmingham News. "If there was a big fire here, that ruling wouldn't have happened," Jackson said flatly.

Several of Schad's collegues, apparently unwilling to give up on such a rich trove of ratings and site visits, opined that a "Cam Newton loophole" had been opened. A popular line of attack, as enunciated by the normally-sane Gene Wojciechowski, asserted "The NCAA just made it possible for anyone with a blue-chip prospect to shop that player without fear of real punishment."

Well, no, Geno, and you're a smart enough guy to know better than that. The distinction you're breezing over is, while Cecil Newton apparently did talk about getting money from Mississippi State with MSU booster and erstwhile agent Kenny Rogers, Cam Newton didn't sign with or play at Mississippi State. If he had, he'd most probably be ineligible, but the last time I checked, State's quarterback was Chris Relf, not Cam Newton.

Nobody at Auburn was asked for anything in return for Newton's signature, and nobody provided anything for it. On the basis of that, Auburn ought to be punished… why? Because that would make you feel better?

The carping wasn't limited to sportswriters. Even Southern Cal athletic director Pat Hayden elected to jump in, even though he runs a program some two thousand miles away from the SEC. Hayden griped to the L.A. Times, "In the Reggie Bush case, when the parent [did] something inappropriate the kid and the school suffered."

Indeed they did, Pat. And you know why? Because Reggie Bush's family actually got illegal stuff, and your coaches knew about it! Crazy, man!
The rest is available on the "free" side, no subscription needed.


Kevin Scarbinsky:

Auburn has not received an official letter of inquiry in this matter. That means it hasn't crossed the line from eligibility issue to infractions case.

It's always possible that new information can come to light, but consider the expert opinion of Montgomery attorney Donald Jackson, a frequent opponent of the NCAA in eligibility cases.

"If there was a big fire here, this ruling wouldn't have happened," Jackson said.

Multiple Chicken Littles have cried that the ruling opens a loophole bigger than Nick Fairley's belt loops, that greedy fathers everywhere have been given license to become auctioneers before signing day.

Please. If Newton were playing at Mississippi State when the NCAA found his dad and his dad's accomplice had shopped him there, do you think he would keep playing at State without missing a snap?

If the NCAA found that Cecil Newton or Rogers got paid by anyone on his behalf, do you think Cam Newton would've been declared ineligible but reinstated almost immediately without conditions?

Of course not. The NCAA can't sit a player based on suspicion, and a school shouldn't. Based on the evidence, Auburn and the NCAA got this one right.

Tony Barnhart:

If the NCAA punished School A because a father solicted money from School B (and no money changed hands and school A didn’t even know the solicitation took place), now you have another slippery slope where the possibilities are endless. If I’m a recruiter at school B and lost a recruit to school A, when the head coach starts chewing on my butt I can just put it out there that the parent solicited money from me and get school A in trouble and take the heat off me.

The fact is that on Wednesday the NCAA issued a very narrow ruling in an area where there is a gap in its legislation. We know that the mere solicitation is a violation of amateurism rules, which is why Auburn had to suspend Newton on Tuesday. An NCAA representative told me the knowledge, or the lack thereof, of the athlete is a “mitigating factor” in whether or not the athlete is eventually reinstated.

But can you punish a school that is not involved in that solicitation simply because the athlete chose that school? Do you at least have to have evidence that the school did something wrong? Eventually, the NCAA will have to get some clarity on this issue.

Now could the facts on the ground change? Could there be evidence uncovered in the future that contradicts the current findings of the NCAA enforcement staff? Of course.

But the NCAA can only make its ruling based on what it knows today. Because of the unique nature of this case, the NCAA owed it to everybody involved to get some kind of resolution if it was possible. Thus, Newton is eligible to play on Saturday against South Carolina.

Matt Hayes:
You should all be embarrassed. You know who you are, the great unwashed of the gotta-get-it, gotta-have-it, hyperbole-fueled world.

The same suckers that listened with bated breath while LeBron James explained where he’d “take my talents” next season, are also the gullible lemmings who jumped on the "let’s ride Cameron Newton out of college football" train because perception supersedes reality.

Did Newton take money from Auburn or Mississippi State or anyone associated with those universities? No, the NCAA says, he didn’t.

In the everlasting struggle of perception vs. reality, perception goes down like a tall, cold glass of sweet tea. Reality, meanwhile, gets upchucked at every turn.

I’ll refer to the great sage of the 21st century, Josh Bynes, when reflecting on the three weeks of Newton Nonsense.

“Even if you guys were told the truth, you wouldn’t believe it,” said Bynes, Auburn’s star linebacker. “The truth doesn’t sell.”

Sadly, I’m beginning to believe him.
because Newton was playing for Auburn, because he was the game’s best player and was leading the Tigers on an unthinkable journey to the national title game, well, that must mean he knew of the deal, took the money and would leave Auburn in shambles after the NCAA found out months or years later.

Opinions formed along blurred lines, the gap between truth and innuendo filled with whatever was easiest to run with.

There’s only one problem with this tale: It didn’t exactly play out the way television pundits and talk radio gabmasters, and message board mongers and truth-seeking journalists thought it would. It’s now complete, and whaddya know, Cam Newton is eligible to play.

Save the sanctimonious pleas that the NCAA should have penalized Newton for his father’s actions. Shove them in the same barf bag as the holier-than-thou grandstanding of Heisman Trophy voters proclaiming Newton hasn’t won with “integrity.”

He has, however, won after his team gave up a 24-spot on the road in the toughest place to play in college football. But instead of celebrating all that Newton has accomplished on the field, the truth-seekers are caught up in a swirling drainpipe of what-ifs and could-bes and you-never-knows -- and there’s nowhere to go but right down the sewer.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

NCAA Declares Cam Newton Eligible


Auburn University football student-athlete Cam Newton is immediately eligible to compete, according to a decision today by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. The NCAA concluded on Monday that a violation of amateurism rules occurred, therefore Auburn University declared the student-athlete ineligible yesterday for violations of NCAA amateurism rules.

When a school discovers an NCAA rules violation has occurred, it must declare the student-athlete ineligible and may request the student-athlete’s eligibility be reinstated. Reinstatement decisions are made by the NCAA national office staff and can include conditions such as withholding from competition and repayment of extra benefits. Newton was reinstated without any conditions.

According to facts of the case agreed upon by Auburn University and the NCAA enforcement staff, the student-athlete’s father and an owner of a scouting service worked together to actively market the student-athlete as a part of a pay-for-play scenario in return for Newton’s commitment to attend college and play football. NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.3.3) do not allow individuals or entities to represent a prospective student-athlete for compensation to a school for an athletic scholarship.

In conjunction with the case, Auburn University has limited the access Newton’s father has to the athletics program and Mississippi State has disassociated the involved individual.

“The conduct of Cam Newton’s father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics,” said Mike Slive, Southeastern Conference Commissioner. “The actions taken by Auburn University and Mississippi State University make it clear this behavior will not be tolerated in the SEC.”

“Our members have established rules for a fair and equal recruitment of student-athletes, as well as to promote integrity in the recruiting process,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. “In determining how a violation impacts a student-athlete’s eligibility, we must consider the young person’s responsibility. Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement. From a student-athlete reinstatement perspective, Auburn University met its obligation under NCAA bylaw 14.11.1. Under this threshold, the student-athlete has not participated while ineligible.”

Thayer Evans, Pete Thamel, Mark Schlabach, Chris Low, Pat Forde and Joe Schad were not immediately available for comment.