Monday, November 28, 2011

New at Rivals: Season of Struggle

My Monday-morning column for the Alabama game is up at Rivals'  A preview:

I think a coach at Auburn or Alabama has to lose that game at a point after they've won it at least once to really appreciate the position they're in. Very few coaches win it in their debut seasons, so pretty much all of them (who aren't named Bill Curry) get a pass on that first loss, especially if their team played well in defeat. Nobody at Auburn held the 1981, 1999 or 2009 losses against Pat Dye, Tommy Tuberville or Gene Chizik, and nobody serious at Alabama held the 2007 game against Nick Saban.

But that free pass is only good once. When Dye flubbed consecutive games he should have won in 1984-85 and Tuberville's 2001 team completely imploded against Alabama, the heat came on immediately. Last year, Saban had the cushion of coming off an undefeated season (as does Chizik today), but even so, few failed to note that Auburn's comeback marked the second straight time Saban and his staff had been decidedly outcoached by Chizik and company.

Saturday night, besides the obvious advantages Alabama enjoyed in terms of deep, experienced talent, that shoe was on the other foot. Alabama leveled pinpoint attacks at pretty much all of Auburn's deficiencies, most notably in pass coverage and up front on both sides of the ball, but they also got a lot of help from arguably the worst game Gus Malzahn has ever called.

Time after time, Auburn would come into a convertable down situation only to blow the opportunity with a goofy trick play, the very worst example being the terrible Wildcat call--after a timeout, no less--on fourth-and-a-foot late in the third quarter. It was an inexplicable decision. Alabama has a great defense, but you put Michael Dyer in a standard formation with a blocker in front of him, he's going to get a foot 49 times out of 50. "Getting too cute" is an accusation that's been leveled against Malzahn a lot this season, and it was never more appropriate than Saturday against the Tide.
The rest is on the subscription side. Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New at Rivals: You Are What You Are

My Monday-morning Rivals column for the Samford game is up at  A preview:

Under normal circumstances, Homecoming gives a team a chance to get the starters a decent workout in the first half, then clear the benches all the way down to the waterboys by the fourth quarter, giving every long-suffering walk-on a chance to get at least a few snaps.

This being 2011, things didn't work out that way. Auburn never trailed against Samford, and was never in serious danger of losing the game, but played such lackadaisical and ugly football that the Tigers couldn't really declare victory and pull the starters until well into the fourth quarter. Coming after one of the most awful losses in the modern history of the program, it wasn't the kind of game to give AU fans a great deal of confidence for the season closer next week.

I could spend a few more paragraphs running down the issues in this team's roster, but the reality is, after eleven games, you are what you are. What Auburn is right now is, unfortunately, about what they were in the opener: mediocre and inconsistent. And while you can certainly point to holes at the "skill" positions (particularly at receiver and in the secondary), it still all starts and ends up front.

From the very first game against Utah State, the Tigers have struggled to win in the trenches, and with a few exceptions--the South Carolina game accounting for most of them--those struggles haven't yielded much success. Put bluntly, Auburn still has a lot of trouble blocking on offense, and a lot of trouble getting off of blocks on defense. That's not a great combination.
The rest is on the subscription side. Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

I didn't write a column for the Georgia game; my mom passed away that Friday, and football hasn't been much on my mind since.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New at Rivals: Consistency Still Needed

My Monday-morning column on the Ole Miss game is up at Rivals' A preview:

For all the griping about poor tackling or bad play-calling or the lack of this or that factor on either side of the football, Auburn's overarching problem this season is inconsistency. The Ole Miss game marked the third time in 2011 that the Tigers have jumped up to a 14-0 lead, only to see the other guys wipe out that margin while still in the first half.

I thought Auburn improved a good bit against Ole Miss, even given all the aforementioned buffoonery, but the Tigers still couldn't put together a four-quarter game.

The best of Saturday: Auburn's passing game finally reappeared after a four-plus-game absence. Clint Moseley had an excellent second start at quarterback, going 12-for-15 and four touchdowns, and Philip Lutzenkirchen added to his "human highlight reel" reputation with that ridiculous Lawyer-Tillman-flashback catch for Auburn's last score, but the straw that stirred the drink was Emory Blake.

Let's take it as a given that Ole Miss does not have a great defense, but the difference for Auburn with Blake in the game was still blindingly obvious.
The rest is on the subscription side. Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More of Pete Thamel's BS Exposed

Remember little Petey Thamel's breathless NY Times story about how Gene Chizik had a shouting match with NCAA enforcement honcho Julie Roe Lach?  Like most of Thamel's "reporting," the story was an innuendo-heavy piece sourced mostly by people with axes to grind against Auburn.  Also like most of Thamel's "work," it wasn't remotely accurate. 

Lach, interviewed recently by CBS Sports' Brian Fischer, had this to say:

Fischer: The SEC meetings, do you regret the run-in with Gene Chizik?

Lach: I have no regrets. I think a run-in is really a mischaracterization, it was a discussion.
Thamel, of course, made the exchange out to be an ominous sign of Auburn's impending doom at the hands of the NCAA. Instead, AU was exonerated by the NCAA a few months later. Oopsie.

Obviously, we're talking about the New York Times here, where editorializing and innuendo in the service of a pre-selected "narrative" is the order of the day, but one of these days, little Petey's penchant for exaggeration and innuendo is going to catch up with him.

Writing like he's working for the National College Football Enquirer is working for Petey, and his editors obviously don't care enough to correct him, but the real shame is that Thamel's buddies in the sportswriting world don't have the guts or the character to call him out when he runs this kind of garbage.

(Sort Of) New at Rivals: Dominated Up Front

My bad for not posting my Monday-morning Rivals column on the LSU game. It's been a hectic week. Here's the link and a preview:

It doesn't take detailed play-by-play analysis to see why Auburn couldn't hang with LSU on Saturday. All it took was seeing a couple of series: the Red Stick Tigers were just a whole lot better up front, on both sides of the ball.

For all the hoopla over Cam Newton, the real difference between the 2010 and 2011 Tiger Bowls was the relative performance of the offensive and defensive lines. Last year, Auburn owned the trenches; this year, it was LSU's turn to be dominant up front. The rest, as they say, is commentary.

But since commentary is sort of the whole point of this gig, here goes: the Auburn offensive line couldn't stop LSU's front four, most particularly end Sam Montgomery. At all.

Clint Moseley had somebody in his face the entire game, and running room was a rare occurrence for either Michael Dyer or Onterrio McCalebb. Give the level of pressure up front and a left tackle who would have had a great performance if he'd been a matador, I'm actually a bit impressed that Moseley only had one pick-six.
The rest is on the subscription side. Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New at Rivals: Ugly, But Winning

My Monday-morning column on the Florida game for Rivals' is up. A preview:

The recurring meme in the wake of Auburn's 17-6 win over Florida is, "winning ugly." I must object: anybody who tries to tell you that notching a third-consecutive win (and fourth of the last five) against an ancient rival like Florida isn't a pretty sight obviously missed the second half of the 1990's.

There's no such thing as a bad win over the Gators, no matter what the score or stats sheet might look like after the clock runs out.

But yeah, okay, if you want to get all picky and aesthetic about it, this wasn't the kind of game you'd want to have on a permanent replay in your football museum. For all the 21st Century trappings, Auburn-Florida 2011 looked an awful lot like both teams, at least on offense, had slipped into a time machine set for 1989.
Other highlights include a gratuitous shot at Charlie The Hutt, aka Mr. "Decided Schematic Advantage."

The rest is on the subscription side. Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Clean Bill Of Health

Kevin Scarbinsky, in the Birmingham News:

Instead of being swayed by public misinformation, the NCAA did what the NCAA is supposed to do. It assigned to the Newton case a bulldog of a lead investigator, Jackie Thurnes, whose previous work included the Derrick Rose-Memphis basketball case that cost the Tigers 38 victories and a national runner-up finish, and turned her loose.

Consider a list of states where the NCAA put actual boots on the ground to sniff around on Newton, the HBO 4 and beyond: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Arkansas.

Now contemplate the multiple fronts covered by a wide-ranging investigation that, according to Thurnes' "It's over" letter to Auburn AD Jay Jacobs, "was not limited to" Newton and the HBO 4.

According to people who were interviewed by the NCAA, the probe looked into everything from the repairs that were done on Cecil Newton's church to the suits that Cam Newton wore in New York during Heisman week. They asked questions about everyone from an alleged street agent in Louisiana to an alleged street agent in Arkansas.

They combed through bank, tax and phone records of Auburn players, coaches, officials and trustees. They requested and were provided some records that went back almost two years.

Did I say requested? Demanded is more like it. The NCAA made it clear that, if those records weren't turned over, the NCAA would consider that suspicious and might find Auburn guilty of failure to cooperate.

What did the NCAA find after 13 months of that kind of determined digging? Not enough to substantiate any of the potential violations it examined. Auburn's unofficial probation ended, not only without sanctions, but without a single formal charge brought against the school.

It's extraordinary for the NCAA not to find something somewhere to charge a school with when it invests this kind of time and money. People who've been involved in infractions cases will tell you. When the enforcement staff turns over this many rocks, it expects to find some serious dirt.

Auburn expected to come out clean, but it didn't expect to get the detailed letter it received that was signed by Thurnes. There probably isn't a more rare and valuable document in the possession of any athletic department in the country today.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

BREAKING: NCAA Formally Clears Auburn

For nearly a year now, haters from coast to coast--but especially in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Starkville and Gainesville--have been predicting that Auburn would receive a letter from the NCAA.  This afternoon, that prediction came true.  Problem for them is, the letter exonerates AU. The NCAA's public statement says:

After conducting more than 80 interviews, the NCAA has concluded its investigation into Auburn University. The NCAA enforcement staff is committed to a fair and thorough investigative process. As such, any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media. The allegations must be based on credible and persuasive information and includes a good-faith belief that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding. As with any case, should the enforcement staff become aware of additional credible information, it will review the information to determine whether further investigation is warranted.

A few excerpts from the letter, which is addressed to Jay Jacobs:

[D]uring the past 13 months the enforcement staff and Auburn University have reviewed a number of allegations regarding the football program's compliance with NCAA legislation, including, but not limited to, allegations involving football student-athletes Cam Newton, Raven Gray, Stanley McClover, Chaz Ramsey and Troy Reddick.

Regarding Mr. Newton, the enforcement staff and the university conducted over 50 interviews regarding an alleged pay-for-play scheme.  Additionally, an extensive number of documents including, but not limited to, bank records, personal IRS tax documents, telephone records and e-mail messages, were obtained and reviewed as part of that inquiry.  As reflected in the university's November 30, 2010, self-report, it was determined that a violation of amateurism legislation occurred when Mr. Newton's father and an owner of a scouting service [Mississippi State booster and former player Kenny Rogers --ed] worked together to actively market Mr. Newton for compensation.  NCAA Bylaw 12.3.3 prohibits individuals or entities from representing a prospective student-athlete for compensation to a school or athletics scholarship.  It was also determined that Mr. Newton and university representatives were not aware of that activity. Based on the information currently available, the enforcement staff has not substantiated any other violations involving Mr. Newton...

Regarding Mr. Gray... The enforcement staff and the university conducted multiple interviews, including those of Mr. Gray and Mr. Gray's family, friends and others.  Ultimately, Mr. Gray's allegations were not substantiated, and in some instances were disputed by others...

Regarding Mr. McClover, Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Reddick... even though the enforcement staff made several attempts to interview those individuals, they refused to cooperate.  Therefore, the allegations made during the HBO show have not been substantiated...

The enforcement staff appreciates the university's cooperation in these matters.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.  Thank you.

Sincerely, Jackie A. Thurnes, Associate Director of Enforcement

Pete Thamel (hey Pete, NOW we know it's over), Thayer Evans, Joe Schad, Mark Schlabach, Chris Low, Spencer Hall, Matt Hinton, Danny Sheridan, Paul Finebaum, Dan Mullen, Megan Mullen, Urban Meyer, Jody Wright and a host of other goons who did their damnedest to do to Auburn off the field what Auburn did to their teams on the field in 2010 were not immediately available for comment.

So: despite the uncountable amounts of ink, pixels and bandwidth spent predicting doom upon the Plains, there will be no probation. There will be no vacations, no forfeits, no returned trophies, and no asterisks. The 2010 season will remain what it always was: glorious.

Boys, you can pick up your crow at Cam's house. He'll be glad to serve it to you... at high velocity.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New at Rivals: Similar Feelings to '09

My Monday-morning column for the Arkansas game is up at Rivals'  A preview:

Years ago, inimitable football-analyst-emeritus Beano Cook observed of the Arkansas Razorbacks, "They're like the Russian Army: terrible on the road, unbeatable at home."

That hasn't always been the case for Auburn, which was actually one game over .500 in Fayetteville going into Saturday, but the Tigers' long collapse against the Razorbacks still felt equally familiar and frustrating.

For what seemed like the umpteenth time (although AU has only lost 9 games to Arkansas in its history), the Hogs exposed every missing piece in the Tigers' squad, and left the visitors to slog home with more questions than answers.

One much-asked question that did get answered Saturday night was, "Why aren't they letting Kiehl Frazier throw the ball?" The answer--obvious then and now--is, "Because you don't do that to a true freshman." Frazier is a tremendous football player, but he's also five months removed from high school. As his last couple of series showed, calling on him to outfox grown men in an SEC secondary, on the road, is at least a year premature.

Watching the offense struggle Saturday night brought on a strong sense of deja vu from the last time the Tigers tripped over their tails in Arkansas, in 2009. Once again, the offense lacked any resemblance of a downfield passing threat, allowing the Hogs to key on the running game in the early downs and pin their ears back on obvious passing downs.
The rest is on the subscription side.  Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Monday, October 03, 2011

New at Rivals: Chicken Soup for the Auburn Soul

My Monday-morning column for the South Carolina game is up over at Rivals' A preview:

The defense that couldn't get Utah State off the field allowed only two third-down conversions against Carolina. The secondary that had spent four games with its backs to the line of scrimmage suddenly turned around to look for the football, allowing only nine completions and reeling in two interceptions. Linemen and linebackers who'd been diving at feet and clutching at air were now wrapping up and gang-tackling, holding the remarkable Marcus Lattimore well below the century mark for the third time in 12 months.

To call it a turnaround would constitute a landmark of understatement. How completely bottled up was South Carolina? This much: Prior to their last, desperation drive, the Gamecocks snapped the ball in Auburn territory exactly once; although to be fair, that one play was Lattimore's only notable run of the day, the 15-yard third quarter touchdown scamper through most of the AU defense.

The rest of the day, Carolina was playing with their backs in close proximity to their own end zone, and while the Tiger defense can take justifiable pride in keeping the Gamecocks backed up, I'd wager they don't have a bit of a problem in complementing the stellar day had by punter Steven Clark and his special teams compatriots.

Carolina had exactly one kick return (and it was on a kickoff) the entire game. For old-line Auburn, having suffered through the ridiculous surrendered yardage and points of September, play and numbers like that were a soothing tonic.
 The rest is on the subscription side.  Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New at Rivals: Little Things Mean The Most

My Monday-morning column for the Florida Atlantic game has been posted over at Rivals'  Here's a preview:

FAU, coached by retiring Captain Kangaroo look-alike Howard Schnellenberger (who's the defensive coordinator, Mr. Green Jeans?), was widely described the press as one of the worst teams in football, and Auburn fans were expecting to get their team dispatch the lowly Owls with a methodical display of power football.

That wasn't what they got in reality. While Auburn was never in any danger of losing Saturday night, the Tigers turned in a lackadaisical, sputtering effort that didn't do much to quell misgivings over the 2011 team's shortcomings. The list of ongoing problems hardly changed.
Auburn is an immensely frustrating team to watch at this point. For all the criticism leveled at the coaches, particularly on defense, I don't think we're dealing with a drastic deficiency in schemes. The reality is, more often than not, players are in position to make plays, but simply don't. Poor tackling, poor technique, poor communication, lack of situational awareness, dropping balls that hit the hands, the list goes on.

Little things mean a lot in football, and Auburn just isn't doing many of those things well, and certainly isn't doing them well with any consistency. And with one of the most challenging four-game stretches in the history of the program looming, the time for fixing problems has just about run out.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New at Rivals: Many Problems for AU

My column on Saturday's debacle at Clemson has been posted at Rivals' A preview:
According to legend, when Auburn alumnus Walter Riggs founded Clemson's first football team in 1896, the school was so bereft of funds that Riggs agreed to coach the team for no salary, and wrote back to his alma mater asking if he could have a set of old Auburn uniforms to outfit his squad.

After years of heavy use and laundering, the navy blue on those Auburn uniforms had faded to purple, and as a result Clemson adopted that hue, in addition to the un-faded orange, for their team colors.

A hundred and fifteen-odd years later, the descendants of Clemson's inaugural team paid back that (perhaps apocryphal) debt by taking the modern Auburn Tigers to the cleaners, sealing an impressive two-touchdown win with an epic, clock-destroying final drive.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On A Roll

Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News is on a major roll this week.  On Monday he had a great column featuring Gus Malzahn's reaction to Cam Newton's smashing NFL debut.  Today Scarbinsky lays the wood to ABC/ESPN for putting 0-For-Auburn Urban in the color commentary slot for the Auburn-Clemson game:
In December of 2010, Meyer was the only SEC coach with a vote that didn't put Auburn No. 1 on his final regular-season ballot in the USA Today poll. He put Oregon first and Auburn second.

But those slights pale next to the role Meyer may have played as a wizard behind the curtain of the Cecil Newton-Kenny Rogers story last fall.

According to multiple news reports, before that story broke, Meyer had vowed on a three-way call with his protege, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, and former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond to tell it to The New York Times and ESPN.

There's no similar justification for ESPN/ABC to send Meyer to Clemson, not for cameos but for a game-long stint in the booth, and there are more than enough reasons to believe that he isn't neutral in his feelings toward Auburn.

[T]his goes beyond "a competitive rivalry that existed" while Meyer was coaching. This is wrong person, wrong place, wrong time.

ESPN should change assignments for this weekend, and Meyer, at the first opportunity, should change careers. He should go back to coaching. That way, he can try to do something he's never done. Beat Auburn on the field.
Extra kudos to Scarbinsky for remembering the name and role of Mississippi State booster/street agent Kenny Rogers, both of which the "major" sports media have assiduously avoided mentioning over the past several months.  Strike off a point, though, for not noting Meyer's rarely-disclosed personal and business relationships with Pete Thamel, Thayer Evans and Mark Schalbach.

Still, nice work again from Scarbinsky, who's about the only genuinely independent sports writer in Alabama these days.  Read the whole thing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New at Rivals: Next Time, Remind Auburn

My Monday-morning column for the Mississippi State game is up over at Rivals'  Here's a preview:

Great finish, sure, and some scattered great play to get there, but also entirely too much inconsistency and outright buffoonery along the way. This team still has a long way to go, and an awful lot still to learn... but that doesn't take away the satisfaction of stuffing not just Chris Relf and the assorted "experts" of ESPN, but also a Mississippi State regime that isn't likely to get a better shot at Auburn in the foreseeable future.

This was the best possible matchup for State to finally make some headway in their long and lopsided-the-other-way rivalry with Auburn, and they still fell--just--short.

The Other Bulldogs have a senior-heavy team that's now had three years of stable coaching, and faced a Tiger squad with essentially three contributing seniors. And they still couldn't get it done (although my sources indicate that ESPN's Joe Schad has already been contacted by Mullen's immediate household with explosive charges that Relf really did score).
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

New at Rivals: Get Better, Soon

Sorry for the long delays this week... I spent the Labor Day weekend with very limited internet access, at a secure and undisclosed location in darkest Alabamistan.

My Monday-morning column for Rivals' wasn't actually posted until late in the day yesterday, but I do promise that it was the best darn column to be submitted from the parking lot of a Jack's in Anniston during a tropical storm. A preview:
I'd like to find somebody to brag about on the Auburn defense, but frankly, it's hard to locate anybody who had a consistently strong performance. Coverage was poor, tackling was worse, and confusion was rampant. Yeah, it was the first game, and against a team Auburn's coaches obviously hadn't emphasized preparing for, but minus the dominating run-stopping of Nick Fairley and Mike Blanc, you'd be stretching things to call this even an average defense.

It's never a good idea to take a single game as representative of any team's abilities, much less its potential. Let's stipulate that coming back from two scores down with two minutes left is a respectable feat under any circumstances. Utah State may turn out to be a very good football team this year; certainly if they continue to play with that kind of power and discipline, they ought to win more than a few ball games.

But let's not gild the lily here. This was an ugly win over what all the world--certainly including everybody at Auburn--expected to be a cupcake. If the Tigers really plan to prove wrong the naysayers who've been dumping on their chances for the last seven months, they've got a load of improving to do, and precious little time in which to do it.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

It's time.

Geoffrey Norman:

It was hot. It is always hot in the black belt of Alabama in the middle of August, and it feels like it will be hot for all eternity. So we talked about sports for some relief.

"You know," the man said wearily, "I just can't wait until they kick it off again. I mean, I feel like if I can just make it for another two or three weeks, then they'll be playing football again and then everything will be okay."

Hallelujah, Amen.

New at Rivals: Conference Dominoes

I have a new column up for's AuburnSports, regarding the looming expansion of the SEC. Here's a sample:

After over a year of toying with the idea, Texas A&M formally announced that it is leaving the Big Twelve-Minus-Two, and barring hard-to-imagine intervening events, next June the home of the 12th Man will become the SEC's 13th team.

Whether a further expansion of the conference is a good idea or not (I'd be perfectly happy to go back to the pre-1992 10-team roster myself, but nobody asked me) is now a moot point.

It's going to happen, and because a numerically unbalanced 13-team league makes no sense at all, let's whip out the old crystal ball and see if we can divine who might be joining A&M in a new and (hopefully) improved SEC.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Hello...? Is This Thing On?"

It's finally opening week for college football, and long-past time for FTB to wake up from off-season hibernation.

So naturally, I have very little to post today. Sorry about that; life interferes.

In the meantime, check out Jerry Hinnen's epic in-progress season preview, starting here and here, and I'll be along directly.

I will be continuing to provide Monday-morning columns for Rivals' this season, and just like last year, that site is offering a free first month's subscription to any new members from FTB; just click here for more info.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Maple Street Press Auburn Yearbook Preorders

Maple Street Press has an "Auburn Kickoff 2011" glossy magazine coming out soon. A few weeks ago, editor and TWER honcho Jeremy Henderson asked me for a few words about Cam Newton's year at Auburn for inclusion. Over a weekend, "a few" turned into well over 4,000, and the (edited) result will be published a couple of weeks from now, along with another 120-odd pages of AU goodness:

Other contributors include Jeremy, Van Plexico, and the inimitable Jerry Hinnen. The yearbook is $9.99, and you can preorder copies here. Should be in bookstores and on magazine racks in Alabama by the week of July 18.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blast From The Past

While transferring some (very) old VHS videotapes to digital format recently, I ran across this 20-minute CNN interview with Pat Dye from December of 1983. Besides some great comments and recollections from Dye on what would turn out to be his most successful season as a head coach, it includes several call-in questions from viewers and ample indications that both men's fashions and cable TV graphics have changed just a bit in the intervening decades. Enjoy...

Part 1:

Part 2:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In The Klink

This info has been showing up on the boards for a few hours now, and it's finally making the news sites:

Auburn police arrested Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, from Dadeville, AL. He will be charged with criminal mischief for applying an herbicide at Toomer's Corner.

There is a Harvey Updyke currently in custody at the Lee County jail. Based on the online pictures I've seen of this dude, he looks like a real prize. He's wearing obnoxious UAT garb in all of them.

Auburn is reportedly planning a news conference at 10:30 (Central) today.

Here's a bit more, from the O-A News:

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said an arrest has been made in the poisioning of the two live oaks at Toomer's Corner.

Jones said a 62-year-old unemployed man, who lists his address as Silver Hill Road, Dadeville, was booked into the Lee County Detention Center at approximately 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

The sheriff said Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr. was arrested and charged with one count of criminal mischief in the first degree, which is a Class C felony.

Bond has been set at $50,000 and, upon conviction, a Class C felony carries a punishment of one to 10 years.

LATE UPDATE: Stupid is as stupid does:

Auburn police more than a week ago had tracked down Harvey Updyke, the man now charged with criminal mischief in the poisoning of the oak trees at Toomer's Corner at Auburn University, by tracing a telephone voice mail to a turfgrass management professor, according to court documents.

The man charged with the crime also has told police he made the phone calls to the professor and a radio talk show, but has denied he actually poisoned the trees.

UPDATE^4: This, apparently, is the "alleged" perpetrator. Ideal example of bammiedom if you ask me:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Dawg Gone?

The rumor mill and Atlanta radio are burning up with reports that Georgia starting tailback Washaun Ealey has been dismissed from the team. Ealey was retained on the team last year after committing a hit-and run on a parked car.

Still no official confirmation at this point, but one wonders (a) just what a starter at a thin position had to do to get booted out over there, and (b) whether Mark Richt has finally figured out that he might want to get some control over his team.

Yeah, I know. The latter is just crazy talk. But still...

UPDATE: Chris Low Mark Schlabach at ESPN says Ealey has been "indefinitely suspended from all team activities" after "failing to report for a punishment run last week." (The report appears next to a picture of Low, but the byline is Schlabach's.)

Sunday, February 06, 2011


Actual photos taken around February 3, 2011, of the concourse outside Bryant-Denny Stadium:

That's winter rye grass in the shape of two now-familiar numbers; from what I understand the UAT physical plant has already received orders to get out there with the Roundup, but the photographic evidence (and it's real, not a Photoshop; click on the pictures to see large versions) remains.

As Dash Rip Rock used to say about the use of alcohol, we here at FTB do not condone such shenanigans... but we do understand them.

UPDATE: Here's a view of the whole thing:

Impressive. Most impressive.

UPDATE UPDATE: A commenter at EDSBS has an inspired suggestion for the grounds crew in Tuscaloosa:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New at Rivals: The Magnificent Moment

My BCS post-game column is now up at Rivals'  A preview:

Ironically, the emotional peak of the night--Mike Dyer's 16-yard run that was originally called a touchdown--turned out to be anticlimactic, when Dyer was called down on the one after a review. But that was the moment when Auburn--players, coaches and fans--knew they had won. The dam was broken, the perfect season achieved, the trophy case opened up and the corks popped. Even when that score was called back, there was no doubt about the outcome. After four years of nailing clutch kicks, Oregon would have needed machine guns to prevent Wes Byrum from knocking through his career-capper.

It was a magnificent moment. Surrounded by somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 roaring fans in the stands, thousands more outside, and buoyed by the spirits of countless others back home and around the world, the 2010 Auburn team took to the field as one for the last time, undefeated, and claimed their place among the greatest of all time. I would say that you had to be there, but clearly, you did not. When the ball sailed through and the clock expired, it didn't matter where you were. You felt it, whether you were under the dome in Glendale or just off Magnolia Avenue in Auburn or hunched over a laptop in some far-flung corner of the globe: at that moment, in our hearts, we were all in the same joyous place.

Speaking purely for myself, the emotions of winning this game were directly on a par with what I felt when leaving the Superdome on the second day of 1984 and first of 2005, as well as within Jordan-Hare Stadium in November of 1993. Whether you or I or anybody else calls the outcome a "national championship" is immaterial in my mind; the achievement of winning all your games against a ferocious slate of competition is the most important achievement. When I saw the final A.P. poll the next day, my reaction was basically, "That's nice," quickly followed by a check on the current weather in ice-encrusted Atlanta. The results on the field matter. The opinions of a bunch of sportswriters and/or coaches, not so much. That's as true today as it was in any other year.
The rest is on the subscription side, but Rivals is offering a free first month to new subscribers coming over from FTB.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011