Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Auburn Picks Up Another!

JaBrian Niles became Auburn's eighth commitment of the 2011 recruiting class on Monday. Niles has been an Auburn fan all of his life and with an offer in hand from his childhood favorite, he decided to get the recruiting process over with early in the summer. Niles will play defensive tackle for the Tigers and should be able to get close to 300 pounds and still be very athletic. His athleticism and quickness is what all the coaches who visited him liked the most and Niles impressed many. He chose Auburn over offers from FSU, FL, AL, Ole Miss and Tex Tech and had many, many others interested. Niles is ranked as a 4 star and the 19th ranked DE by ESPN and his coach says he's just as good of a person as he is a player. He looks to be an outstanding pick-up by Auburn and another in a long line of top prospects to come out of Mobile. Niles is also a very good student and projects as a full qualifier. He had 72 tackles and 8 sacks as a Junior.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Nice Catch Gabe...

Gabe Gross recently had a "posterizing" moment in an Oakland A's victory. Gross robbed Gerald Laird of the Detroit Lions of a homer which made for an incredible photo moment, sure to be enjoyed by Auburn Tiger fans that remember Gabe's playing days in Auburn. Gabe had this to say about his Kodak moment, "I've taken homers away, but that's the best one I can remember. They don't come around very often." Nice catch Gabe!

Auburn Recruiting Nationally...

I did a recent story for AuburnEagle.com on how the Auburn football staff is recruiting nationally these days. Several players that have joined the Tiger football team lately have come from all different parts of the country. My story is based on the coaching staff's efforts in recruiting two Washington D.C. area prospects, Jamar Lewter and Kevin McReynolds. You can check out the entire article, which includes quotes from the players HERE.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

And Kiehl Frazier Makes #7!

Auburn picked up it's 7th committment for the 2011 class on Saturday. This one coming from one of the top QB prospects in the country, Kiehl Frazer (pictured left). More on Frazier and the rest of the six commits below...

OL/G - Thomas O'Reilly - 6'3" - 315 - Marietta, GA (Pope) - Chose AU over offers from FSU, Ga Tech, Maryland, Miss St., NC State and several others. Considered to be one of the country's top guard prospects. Grew up an UGA fan but they didn't offer. That left the door open for other teams to get in on him and AU came out the winner. ESPN 150 Watch List. Under-Armour All-American. O'Reilly will graduate in December, enroll at AU in January and go through spring practice. One of the reasons to love this committment even more is Nick Saban told Thomas he was the only guard in this class he wanted. Holding onto him on signing day will be HUGE. My opinion on O'Reilly from what I've seen, is that he is still underrated despite being pretty heavily recruited and highly thought of. He could be the most versitile OL in the country. There's just not much he doesn't do well.

OL/C - Reese Dismukes - 6'4" - 290 - Spanish Fort, AL - Dismukes is without a doubt one of the best center prospects in the country. Maybe THE best. Dismukes originally planned on committing to Alabama, but the family atmosphere at AU made him feel more at home, he says. Dismukes chose AU over offers from AL, FSU, GA Tech, Ole Miss and several others. Dismukes says he's firm to AU, will graduate in December and enroll at Auburn in January in time to go through spring practice.

S - Anthony Swain - 6'3" - 215 - 4.6 forty - Gadsden, AL (Gadsden) - Swain is one of the state of Alabama's best prospects in 2011 and has tons of upside. He chose AU over offers from TN, KY, S. Miss and several others that were showing him strong interest. Swain is being recruited to play safety at AU but really has potential to play a number or positions because of his size and speed. Swain is a very good addition to the class.

S - Izauea (Isiah) Lanier - 6'1" - 190 - 4.5 forty - East Mississippi Community College - Lanier had to go the juco route to get his grades in order after originally signing with AU in 09, out of Gordo High-School. Lanier is an outstanding prospect that coach Chizik and Lolley like alot. Other schools didn't really even get a chance to recruit Izauea though. He committed to AU on the first day after signing day 2010. He'll be in Auburn in December, go through spring practice and have 3 years to play 3.

DT - Angelo Blackson - 6'5" - 290 - Bear, DE (Red Lion Christian Academy) - The commitment of Deleware's Blackson is another sign the Chizik staff will recruit nationally. Blackson didn't know much about AU until visiting for the A-Day game. That visit was apparently enough for him to decide he wants to be a Tiger. Blackson had 56 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and added 7 sacks to his resume as a junior, but has still flown under the radar with some recruiting services. The main reason for that is because of the lack of high profile high-school football in Deleware. When Blackson is on the field he is anything but under the radar. He's known for being a tough football player who plays hard every snap and has a motor that never stops. Though his best attribute according to his coach, is how physical he is and how much passion he plays the game with. Blackson is a nightmare for offensive linemen that aren't ready for a fight in the trenches. Physical, Physical, Physical is how Blackson plays the game and his coach says the best word to describe Blackson is "Violent". He also moves extremely well for such a big guy and is just an all-around great athlete. Blackson chose AU over offers from TN, Maryland, N.C. State, Pittsburgh and several others and is still being pursued by USC and many more. Look for Blackson's stock to go through the roof with a big senior year.

LB - Chris Landrum - 6'2" - 215 - 4.5 forty - 265 Bench - Sweet Water, AL - Landrum grew up an Alabama fan and was probably penciled in by many to be a lock to go there. However his visits to Auburn changed his heart and the family atmosphere won him and his family over. Landrum says he's solid to AU and won't take any other visits to any other schools. He does however, plan to return to AU several more times before February and help AU bring in more recruits. Maybe the best LB in Alabama this year, Landrum is a first team All-State selection and chose AU over offers from AL, TN, Memphis, Duke and several others. Landrum is also an excellent student and projects as a full qualifier.

QB - Kiehl Frazier - 6'3" - 215 - 4.5 forty - Springdale, Ark (Shiloh Christian) - During Big Cat weekend Kiehl Frazier, Auburn's top QB target, went public with his decision to play his college ball at Auburn University. Frazier is considered one of the top dual threat quaterbacks in the country according to most recruiting experts and can literally do it all. He can run, he can scramble, he can make any throw he needs to make, and he can lead. Frazier is as smart as he is talented and expects to be a full quailifer. Before cutting his list to Auburn and Arkansas, Frazier had offers from everyone in the country, including AU, ARK, FL, LSU, N.D., Clemson, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska and many, many others.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Big Cat Weekend Is Here!

Auburn's famed Big Cat recruiting weekend is finally here. I wrote a story for AuburnEagle.com today with detailed information about some of the prospects attending. The article starts as follows:

Big Cat Weekend is finally here! For Auburn football recruiting fans, Big Cat Weekend has become nearly as anticipated as signing day itself. That’s because ten players from last year’s Big Cat Weekend eventually signed with the Tigers and all of the attendees, even the ones that didn’t end up at Auburn, said they loved that visit. So much so, several of them are going back to hang out again this year. Auburn running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, Curtis Luper calls it “A family reunion”. So, what’s the difference in Big Cat and all the others? What makes it so special?

Read the rest of the article HERE!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Neiko Thorpe Ready to Shine...

Auburn defensive back Neiko Thorpe could be ready for a break out season in 2010. AuburnEagle.com staff writer, Rednilla takes a look at Thorpe's career so far and goes in depth on Thorpe's chances of a successfull year on the Tiger defense.

The article starts as follows: Last year, while Jerraud Powers was busy making 63 tackles as a rookie with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts instead of enjoying his senior year as an Auburn Tiger, Neiko Thorpe was doing a lot of growing up through the bashing he took from a certain segment of the Auburn fan base. Thorpe was charged with the task of taking over Powers’ starting role a year ahead of time, and when he was not immediately as good as the impact NFL rookie, some fans used such verbiage as horrible, pathetic, and even garbage.

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

Hunter Morris named SEC Player of the Year!

One of the biggest honors an SEC player can achieve in any sport is SEC player of the year. To grab that award, you've got to do a lot of things right and be a great leader for your team as well, usually taking them to the post season. For example, Auburn has only had one other player named SEC Player of the Year in it's long history and that was Tim Hudson, back in 1997. This year's Auburn baseball team, who has already clinched the post season, has it's second SEC Player of the Year and his name is Hunter Morris. Tuesday, the SEC honored Morris by naming him SEC Player of the Year after Auburn's first baseman had an unbelievable season.

Morris, Auburn's junior first baseman led the SEC in homeruns with 20, hits with 94, slugging percentage with a .767 average, and total bases with 181. He was also tied for third in RBI's with 67. Note: AU's Brian Fletcher led the SEC in RBI's with 70. Morris has also been an outstanding leader for this year's Tiger baseball team, taking them to heights not seen in a long time at Auburn. In fact, this Auburn team broke several Auburn records on their way to a Western Division Title and 39-17 overall record.

The SEC office also honored Auburn sophomore pitcher Cory Luckie on Tuesday, as he was named SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year. Luckie, the lefty was 6-3 on the season with a 6.17 ERA and will start the first game against Alabama, in the SEC tournament on Wednesday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Big Cat Weekend on the Horizon...

Auburn's newest tradition, Big Cat weekend is next weekend. The famed recruiting weekend where the players and coaches relax and get to know each other and just hang out without any of the pressures of evaluations, is this coming weekend. Auburn fans are hoping for the same result as last year, when Auburn signed several of the players who attended the event. A handfull of players have already been confirmed for Big Cat Weekend. They include top targets from around the country, as well as signees from last year who want to come back and join in the fun again. They include....
  • Ray Drew
  • Kiehl Frazier
  • Watts Dantzler
  • Jermaine Whitehead
  • Chris Landrum
  • Keymiya Harrell
  • Dee Hart
  • Javorius "Buck" Allen 
  • Trovon Reed
  • Kenneth Carter
  • Michael Dyer
  • Dakota Mosley
  • Justin Delaine
  • LaDarius Owens
These are the players I have been able to confirm as of now, but in no way will be the entire list. There should be around 40 to 50 players there in total. Trooper Taylor has said in the past that they want to get in as many of their top targets as possible, but also don't want to overload the weekend with too many prospects where they don't have time to spend with each one. Expect a full, in depth article this week from the AuburnEagle.com staff that will detail most of the prospects attending. Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Auburn Baseball Team Wins the West!

For the first time since 1995 the Auburn baseball team has clinched it's first Western Division Title. The 16th ranked Tigers beat #17 Ole Miss 18-4 to clinch the title and improved their record to 38-17 (19-10) in the SEC. The Baseball Tigers have also clinched a berth in the SEC tournament, which is the first time they have done so since 2003. Auburn Eagle has an outstanding full report, including more on the AU baseball team's record breaking performances this season and quotes as well. Check it out HERE

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dontae Aycock no longer with the team...

Auburn officially lost a football player today. Auburn has confirmed that running back Dontae Aycock has been dismissed from the team due to a violation of an undisclosed team rule. Aycock was a fairly highly touted running back coming out of high school in 2009. He was a four star running back from Tampa, Florida but redshirted last year and was no higher than 3rd on the depth chart this year. No word as to what rule he broke or what happened exactly, but the loss of Aycock leaves Auburn somewhat thin at the running back position going into the 2010 season. Mario Fannin, Onterio McCalebb, Michael Dyer and Eric Smith will have to shoulder the running backs load for the Tigers this fall now, so injury luck will be a must at that position in 2010.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

AuburnEagle.com's State of Alabama Top 25

I recently worked with several of AuburnEagle.com's recruiting experts to put together AuburnEagle.com's first annual, State of Alabama Top 25. The following top 25 list was comprised by averaging rankings compiled by AuburnEagle.com recruiting experts, as well as ESPN and ThaRinger.com. The following players were ranked by the average ranking of each voting member. The article begins as follows....

With high-school football season right around the corner, we thought it was time to break ground on a new tradition. Along with AUSportTalk, Jonesy, Myself and recruiting services such as ESPN and ThaRinger, we decided to bring you AuburnEagle.com's First Annual, State of Alabama Top 25. Inside you'll find our rankings for the top 25 incoming Alabama high-school seniors, as well as a short break down of each player and where they stand as of today. Erique Florence (pictured above) was our concensus #1 ranked player. Read the entire article below....


State of Alabama Top 25

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Message From Jay Jacobs....

Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs recently released a new message to the Auburn family reguarding several Auburn relaed topics. It reads as follows....

Dear Auburn Family,


The Auburn baseball team is headed for Hoover. The Tigers' 18-0 win over Tennessee on Saturday officially clinched a Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament berth for Auburn. Auburn, now ranked No. 16 nationally, defeated Tennessee again on Sunday to win its fourth consecutive SEC series. The win also put Auburn (35-17 overall) in first place in the SEC West with a conference record of 17-10.

Coach John Pawlowski and his staff have done a great job of keeping the team focused on its goals. The first goal-making the SEC Tournament-has been accomplished. Coach Pawlowski's team is now focused on bigger goals, including the chance to compete for the SEC Western Division title when the Tigers travel to Ole Miss this weekend.

The 2010 SEC Baseball Tournament will be held May 26-30 in Hoover, Ala. The Auburn Family needs to show the team how much we appreciate the outstanding year they have had with a big crowd at Regions Park. You can order tickets for the tournament by visiting http://www.secsports.com/tickets/ or by calling the SEC Ticket Office at 1 (800)-732-4849.

Regions Park is a great venue for families to enjoy college baseball at its best, and this Auburn team is truly exciting to watch. Auburn leads the SEC in hitting with a .354 average and a school-record 104 homeruns. Make plans to join the Auburn baseball team in Hoover for what promises to be a great tournament.

Auburn Arena update

The buzz continues to build for Auburn basketball with Coach Tony Barbee at the helm and the Auburn Arena nearing completion. The 2010-2011 season will be a historic one as our men's and women's teams begin a new era in an incredible new facility.

If you have never purchased season tickets for Auburn basketball but would like to guarantee that you have seats for the 2010-2011 season, the best thing to do is to join the Tigers Unlimited Basketball Ticket Priority Program for $150 per seat. (The $150 per seat Priority contribution is in addition to the cost of season tickets). You can find additional information and seat request forms at www.auburnarena.com or at www.tigersunlimited.com for both men's and women's basketball.

For existing Tigers Unlimited basketball members, the contribution period is currently underway and will remain open until July 1. Men's basketball premium seat holders (Courtside Club and Scholarship Donors) will be able to participate in Seat Selection Events in June. All other seats in the new arena will be allocated based on priority by the Ticket Office just as we have always done. If you have any questions about the TUF Basketball Ticket Priority Program, contact Tigers Unlimited at (334) 844-1158.

Spring sports update

While the 2009-2010 academic year is winding down, the Auburn softball team, men's and women's golf teams and our track teams are still competing. The Auburn softball team recently earned the program's seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament and will compete against Oregon in the Atlanta Regional Friday at 4:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

The No. 4 Auburn women's golf team is competing in the NCAA Golf Championships this week in Wilmington, N.C., after a strong showing in the NCAA Regionals, while men's golf is competing in an NCAA Regional in College Station, Texas. The No. 9 ranked men's and No. 11 ranked women's track teams will both compete in NCAA Preliminary Rounds in Greensboro, N.C., May 27-29.

It is hard to believe another academic year at Auburn University has passed. Since graduating our student-athletes is one of our top goals for the Athletic Department, it is worth noting that 45 student-athletes received their diplomas at commencement last week. We also recently held the annual Tiger Torch ceremony to recognize our academic "Top Tigers." A record 207 student-athletes were honored for posting a 3.0 or higher GPA.

Whether you are a member of the All-American Society or a season ticket holder for any of our sports, we could not do it without you, and we appreciate your support.

Good things are happening at Auburn, but great things lie ahead. Thanks for all that you do.

God Bless and War Eagle!
Jay Jacobs
Director of Athletics

Auburn Summer Camps: A Proving Ground...

I recently did a story on a couple of prospects looking to impress Auburn coaches this summer at the summer football camps. The story starts as follows...

It’s hard to imagine Auburn being in a position to turn away good football players in the high pressure, win at all cost, SEC. Coaches search high and low for players they think can help their football teams and it would seem that good football players would be hard to come by. However, with Auburn’s recruiting success since Gene Chizik took over the Auburn football program, Auburn is in fact, having to turn away many very solid college prospects. Continue Reading

Tony Barbee gets another commit...

Tony Barbee received the third commitment of his tenure on Tuesday. Point Guard Chris Denson gave his pledge to sign with Coach Barbee's basketball Tigers and is expected to put his signature on the dotted line Wednesday. The Auburn basketball team has been desperatly seeking a point guard to add to Coach Barbee's first class and they got a good one in Denson. Denson averaged 24 points and 4 assists last year for Shaw High-School in Columbus, Georgia. He's known as an extremely quick point guard, who can create off the dribble and sees the floor really well. Visit AuburnEagle.com for more on the story HERE

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wild Story From The NBA....

This story has nothing to do with Auburn, but I thought this rumor was so juicy it had to be talked about. According to several websites on the internet, the reason Lebron James is considering leaving the Clevland Cavaliers is not because of his contract, or ownership, or even his team dragging their feet in bringing in players to help him win a championship. No, the word around the campfire is Lebron is leaving Clevland because of his mom.

According to the NBA rumor mill, Lebron James' mom, Gloria James has been having a love affair with Lebron's teammate and former friend Delonte West. Yes indeed, reports are surfacing that Lebron found out prior to game four of the Cavs series with the Boston Celtics that teammate Delonte West has been in a love affair with his mom for the last several months and the fallout was not a good one.

Apparently, when Lebron found out about the affair a fight insued that killed not only the teams chemistry, but also hindered Lebron's concentration and ended any hopes of the Cavs advancing further into the playoffs. Lebron, who many expected would take over game 5 of the series when it was tied 2-2, turned in one of his worst performances as a pro and looked as though his head wasn't in the game. Was this the reason? Many are speculating that James' poor play was in direct result of this scandal and that he will bolt from Clevland as soon as possible, leaving bad memories behind.

Again, none of this has been proven and as of today, all this story is, is a rumor. Representatives for Delonte West, as well as Lebron James and his mom Gloria have refused to comment to confirm or deny the rumors as of today either, though.

So as it stands now, two questions are on everyone's mind. Did Delonte West and Gloria James cost the Cavs a championship? And if this rumor is true, will Delonte make it out of Clevland alive, after Cavs fans lose Lebron to another team because of this scandal?

Only time will tell....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Auburn Baseball Returning to Hoover...

Here is my story for today over at AuburnEagle.com. You can read the entire article over there. It starts as follows:

Auburn baseball is returning to Hoover. For the first time since 2003, the Auburn baseball team has clinched a spot in the SEC tournament and made it to post season play. Going into Saturday's game against Tennessee, the Auburn baseball team's magic number was 1. They needed to get a win against the Vols, or a loss by arch-rival Alabama. However, the Tigers didn't wait for Alabama to help them with their post season fate. Read More....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tiger Prowl is Dead....A Conspiracy Theory:

Since Gene Chizik’s arrival at Auburn last season, as well as top notch and revolutionary recruiters Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper, the AU coaching staff has done an excellent job of thinking outside the box to generate publicity for the Tiger program. One of the outstanding ideas brought about by the new Auburn coaching staff was the famed “Tiger Prowl”.

Some Auburn critics called it a “gimmick” recruiting tactic and scoffed at Auburn’s new wave recruiting idea. The “Tiger Prowl” was actually nothing more than Auburn coaches deciding to all go out at the same time, together as a staff, to schools across the southeast during the spring evaluation period. Most teams split their coaches up and send them in different directions to try and talk to as many coaches, teachers and guidance counselors as possible. Coaches don’t get to actually speak with prospects during the evaluation period. They simply go to the school and talk to the high-school coaches and others about certain prospects they are interested in. Auburn decided to do things differently in that they loaded up as many assistants as the NCAA would allow, (7) and they all went together to show their unity as a staff and try and make a splash.

To get all seven of the coaches in one car to make a trip to a school, they couldn’t take a Ford Focus. They had to have room for all of them and they needed to make a splash. So, they rented limos decked out with AU emblems and pulled up to high-schools in style. Even though the coaches couldn’t talk to their prospects, the “Tiger Prowl” still had an effect. Students seeing those limos pull up at their schools and watching as seven Auburn football coaches stepped out was probably a highlight in some of the student’s monotonous school days. Several prospective recruits have commented on how they thought it was a cool idea and that they appreciated the coaches all coming out to talk to their school about them. So did several high-school coaches. Several of them raved about what Auburn was doing and said it made them and their schools feel special and appreciated.

This year, the Auburn coaching staff took the use of a tour bus, decked out with Auburn murals and logos from end to end. The tour bus is beautiful, equipped with all the bells and whistles and even plays the Auburn fight song. Any high-school seeing this beautiful piece of machinery pull up in the parking lot would have made them feel important and given them the feeling that they have arrived as a high-school football program. In fact, several high-school coaches said as much about that as well. For Auburn, it made them look like a first class program by traveling together, in style that way.

Auburn was operating within the limits of the NCAA by-laws and was breaking no rules. They were making a better name for themselves in the households of up and coming prospects and again, were also very appreciated by the high-schools in which they visited. None of the high-schools complained or said it interrupted their school day. It was something new. It was something smart and it was something that was good for everyone involved.

Earlier this month however, the NCAA, always ready to take the fun out of sports, decided to write a new rule to prohibit this blasphemy in recruiting. In the eyes of this writer however, the ruling that came down from "the committee" was just another in a long line of misguided power and legislation from the college sports lawmakers that wasn’t necessary. Another problem fixed that didn’t need fixing. Oh, they always say the right things and try to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside, keeping college sports “fair and equal” in their eyes. To keep everything fair and balanced, this ruling was written as follows:

The NCAA says, “Such actions were just as much to be seen as to actually conduct an evaluation."

So what? Of course it’s as much about being seen as conducting an evaluation. It’s called promoting your program. Last time I checked, the more a particular school promotes their program, the more successful they will become, which equals more money for the university, which equals more money for the NCAA. Why is this considered a bad thing?

The NCAA says, “We conclude that schools are unnecessarily expending resources in order to have multiple assistant coaches attend these evaluations as a result of the perceived recruiting benefit."

Again, So what? Since when does the NCAA have the right to tell a school how it uses its resources, as long as the university is following the equal rights of prop 48 and other equal rights programs etc.? Since when does the NCAA care if a college or university is “unnecessarily expending resources”? So what if there is a recruiting benefit, either perceived or real? Can all colleges not send out seven assistants the same as Auburn if they want to? What extra benefit does Auburn receive? Schools that are not even in the SEC can do the same thing, can they not? In fact, Georgia and Florida State were starting to follow in Auburn’s footsteps and do the same thing. Tommy Tuberville, both at Ole Miss and Auburn was notorious for sending his coaches en masse for top prospects for years. So why the change now?

The new legislation continues with more brilliance as it specifically mentioned, cutting out coaches traveling in limos and “extravagant buses”.

First of all, Auburn coaches used its tour bus for fund raising events, but did not send it to high-schools this spring. Nor did Auburn use its bus on any recruiting trips. Even if they had, how is that an extra benefit? If your local church can charter a bus and put logos on it, I find it hard to believe that any college in Div. I would have a hard time getting the money up to do the same thing if they chose to do so. Not only that, but if you’re sending out seven coaches, what do you expect them to ride in? Do they want Auburn and now other colleges who have copied AU because of its success to ride in a pick-up truck? Do they want them to put two coaches in the cab and five in the bed? How about an El Camino? Is that too extravagant?

The NCAA went on in passing its rule to limit colleges to only being able to send out two assistant coaches to visit a prospect at one time, saying “An army of coaches visiting a recruit can be expensive for colleges and doesn’t really allow for real recruiting evaluation”.

I would like to see the facts this little nugget was built on. Now I admit, I’m not a rocket scientist and math wasn’t my best subject, but this doesn’t make good common sense. If I go one way in a car and six of my buddies all go in separate directions in other cars and my employer has to pay for all of the cars, the cars gas and wear and tear, it seems like that would cost more money than all of us getting in one car together and going to one location. Ever hear of car-pooling? On top of that, who says sending out all of your coaches doesn’t allow for “real recruiting evaluation”? It seems to me, seven heads would be better than one or two and seven sets of eyes and ears are better than one or two. One could be talking to a coach. One could be talking to a teacher. One could be talking with a guidance counselor and so on. We get more done in less time and we’re off to the next school. But, if I’m not doing a good job of evaluating by recruiting that way, as the NCAA says, then my team and my job will be the one to suffer. What does it matter to the NCAA?

Sorry NCAA, I’m not buying what you’re selling. Something just doesn’t smell right about all of this. Let’s consider the timeline for this situation. The rough draft of the proposal was approved by the NCAA Legislative Council on April 13th. The rule was passed and became final on Thursday April 29th, approximately two weeks later. Two weeks? When, in the history of the NCAA have they passed any legislation, from a rough draft to a final rule in two weeks time?

Now, in the spirit of fairness and honest reporting, this whole thing got started by the Big East, who submitted a proposal for the ban on this type of recruiting in July 2009. I guess we could call this the rough, rough draft. Apparently the Big East schools can’t send out their coaches’ en mass for some reason and thought what AU and other schools were doing was unfair. At the end of September the proposal was sent to the Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet. This branch of the NCAA thought the ban was unfair and wrote a recommendation opposing the ban. The head of that department said it wasn’t something that needed to be fixed and that there was no real tangible benefit to recruiting this way. The Legislative Council however, paid no attention to him or his committee and adopted the ban in a few short months.

All you have to do is look at previous NCAA timelines to see how they generally operate and to see the fast track this ban was on. The NCAA is still investigating USC over the Reggie Bush situation. In case you forgot, Reggie Bush graduated from USC 5 YEARS AGO! On April 26th, 2009 the NCAA hit Hawaii men’s volleyball with probation after investigating transgressions from their program during the 2005 season. That’s four years later. How about Alabama? The NCAA handed down sanctions to sixteen of Alabama’s sports teams in June of 2009, for what was dubbed “Textbookgate”. Those penalties were handed down for teams that had received free textbooks and other benefits during the 2005 to 2007 seasons. That two year investigation was swift justice to the NCAA. Another example is Florida State. In November of 2007, FSU turned themselves in to the NCAA for players receiving extra benefits. Their probation didn’t come down until March of 2009. Again, two years of investigation before ruling. By the NCAA’s own admission on their website, their average timetable for rulings on perceived infractions is around 12 months. That’s their own admission and it’s a very optimistic one.

So the million dollar questions are how and why did Auburn’s Tiger Prowl get put on the two week fast track, from rough draft to final ruling and why wasn’t the recommendation of the Recruiting Cabinet accepted? These questions will probably never be able to be answered with any type of certainty. The NCAA isn’t going to give us any information and neither are any coaches or schools who voiced a concern about Tiger Prowl. With that being said, one can only speculate and look at the individuals in charge.

While investigating this story and trying to answer these questions, the story only became sketchier in my opinion and raised my suspicions even more. I found that the two head honchos at the top of the NCAA pecking order both had something in common. Their former universities and personal relationships both had been affected by Auburn’s recent football recruiting success.

Myles Brand, the former president of the NCAA died in September 2009 and was replaced that same month by an interim president, James L. Isch. Isch was to serve as NCAA president until a permanent replacement was found. Isch has held several high profile jobs in colleges across the country. However, it just so happens that one of interim president Isch’s previous jobs was Vice Chancellor for finance and administration at the University of Arkansas. It’s worth noting we was also once a campus CFO for the NCAA.

Tiger fans know full well the recruiting success Auburn has had in the state of Arkansas in recent years, beating Arkansas out for some of their states most highly touted recruits. However, to say that Isch put the Tiger Prowl legislation on the fast track because of losing football players from the state of Arkansas to AU would be pure speculation and a pretty big conspiracy theory. It would also be pure speculation to say that a man so interested in college finances would be associated with a ruling that was so adamant about schools “unnecessarily expending resources”. It would be pure speculation without a doubt, but it does make sense.

Isch’s tenure is almost up though. Just two days before the Tiger Prowl ruling came down, the NCAA announced its permanent president. Auburn fans will be happy to know (Obvious Sarcasm) that the new NCAA president is long standing friends with Nick Saban, the coach of Auburn’s arch-rival. That’s right; Mark Emmert, the new NCAA president was once the man that brought Nick Saban to LSU and has a long standing relationship with Alabama’s head coach. He probably didn’t have anything to do with the Tiger Prowl ruling. It’s not like Interim President Isch would console and seek the advice of the new permanent president on a matter that would take effect as soon as he took office, right?

Obviously, nobody could prove Saban or Alabama had anything to do with the NCAA passing this rule, but with Auburn’s recent recruiting success and the fact that Auburn has beaten Alabama head to head for some of the south’s top prospects lately, you have to wonder if Alabama didn’t have the most to gain by the NCAA putting the brakes on Tiger Prowl.

People will call this article preposterous and just another wacky conspiracy theory trying to pin something on Alabama and Nick Saban that they really didn’t have anything to do with. Again, I admit it’s a stretch to think everything happened the way I laid it out above and it’s a pretty far-fetched conspiracy theory, to say the least. But in my opinion, the Tiger Prowl rule should be filed in the drawer marked; “Things that make you go hmmm.”

Either way, Tiger Prowl as we know it is dead. We can thank the Big East and the interim president Isch, with his short-sighted committee who didn’t listen to their own recruiting cabinet’s recommendation. That, we know for sure. Somewhere, Nick Saban is thrilled.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Well it's about time....

Well it's about time the NCAA recognized Auburn for something positive, instead of trying to knock us down somehow. The Auburn women's basketball team received public recognition by the NCAA for their Academic Performance Rate (APR) score for 2009-10, after posting a multi-year score in the top 10 percentile of all squads in their sport, the NCAA announced Wednesday. The Auburn women were one of 20 Southeastern Conference sport programs to be recognized by the NCAA. Read the full story HERE.

Vote for Auburn's Entrance Song....

Just as Ric Flair needs his entrance song to get him fired up on the way to the ring, the Auburn football team needs it's entrance song as well. This year, Auburn is giving the fans a chance to pick the song by voting online. Click HERE to cast your vote. Voting ends May 16th so get your picks in. WWOOOO!!!

Apologies to the Chillvillians...

Sorry for my absence over the last several days. I have been "under the weather" as they say and have not been able to post my ramblings. I'm back on top now though and it's back to business as usual. Here's checking up on what happened while I was gone...

  • Luke Cothron, on the the nations best power forwards committed to AU on the 7th. Cothron is an outstanding player and should see immediate minutes for Tony Barbee. He brings a great offensive game for a big man and some much needed size to the roster. Cothron is widely considered one of the top 50 high-school basketball players in the country.
  • Angelo Blackson, a defensive tackle from Deleware committed to Gene Chizik's Football Tigers. Blackson's commitment is yet another sign that Chizik and staff intend on recruiting nationally. Blackson is way underrated at this time. He's a 6'5", 290 lb wrecking crew, who plays like he's mad at the world.
  • Chris Landrum also committed to play for Auburn on Wednesday. Landrum is considered one of the top 2 linebackers in the state of Alabama this year and is ranked the #7 overall player in the state by the Birmingham News.
  • Tiger Prowl was banned. I first thought this had Slick Willie Saban and Alabama's fingerprints on this, but it turns out it was the Big East who proposed the Tiger Prowl ban. I still think it's fishy even if Alabama wasn't involved...More on that later.
  • The Auburn Baseball Tigers have climbed to #18 in the AP Poll and have been hot as a firecracker lately. The Tigers are 33-16, (15-9 SEC) and should be back in the SEC tournament this year for the first time since 2003. In fact, it's not out of the question to think AU might have a chance to host a Regional.
  • Last and I guess least was Spencer Region "reopening" his commitment. Basicly, this is the same thing as a decommitment. I hate to see Spencer decommit because he's a good football player and one we could definitly use. However, I think his heart is probably with his childhood favorite, Alabama. If that's the case then as bad as we hate it, that's where he needs to go. He won't live up to his potential or be happy if he's not playing at the school he truly wants to go to. Don't expect AU to give up though. Auburn will battle Alabama all the way to the end for Spencer and you just never know how things will turn out in the end.