By Jay Coulter
I don’t know about you, but I love following the Troy Trojans. It’s hard not to think of them as Auburn-South. With former Tiger Larry Blakeney serving as head coach, Shayne Wasden coaching receivers and former Tiger assistant Steve Dennis leading the athletic department, the entire program is being run by Auburn people.
Heck, even the radio play-by-play man has Auburn connections. Barry McKnight did Auburn baseball on the radio during the 1980’s and is one of the good guys in the business.
It was great to see Blakeney get the big win over Oklahoma State last week. He’s without question, one of the best college coaches in America. I know he’ll forever be remembered for “keep it down home cuz,” referring to his taped conversation with Eric Ramsey years ago; but it’s time for Blakeney to get a shot at a major program.
If I’m the athletics director at a BCS school, I have to look hard at Blakeney when I have an opening. He’s run a clean program for 16 years now at Troy. He’s moved the Trojans up to Division I-A and won.
How successful has he been? He ranks fourth all-time in the state of Alabama in wins behind Bear Bryant, Cleve Abbott (Tuskegee) and Shug Jordan. His record of 128-64-1 is even more impressive when you consider he’ll take his Troy team to play anyone in the country.
Blakeney’s been to Baton Rouge, Gainesville and Tallahassee in recent years and will head to Columbus, Ohio next year to take on the Buckeyes.
Let’s hope his time comes soon. But then again, he’s having so much fun in the town of 13,000 that he might be hesitant to leave.
Have you been following the saga between Georgia and Alabama? Bulldogs coach Mark Richt closed practice this week in preparation for Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa.
Word leaked out that the reason practice was closed was because Richt was concerned that Saban might be spying on the Dawgs. Saban served as defensive coordinator under New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick in Cleveland years ago.
As everyone knows, the Patriots were recently fined for cheating in a game with the New York Jets. Are you seeing the connection now? This has enraged some Bama fans and caused Saban to plead his innocence.
There’s an Auburn connection with the story. Former Tiger All-American offensive lineman Stacy Searels coached with Saban at LSU. He now serves as offensive line coach at Georgia.
Many are speculating that Searels tipped Richt off to how Saban runs his program. Yesterday, Richt defended Searels, saying that no such conversation took place.
You have to love it. That’s what happens when you sell your soul to the devil for a chance to beat Auburn.
When the Tigers take on New Mexico State Saturday night, they’ll be starring at some familiar faces on the Aggie sidelines. Most of you know by now, that they are coached by Hal Mumme, the former Kentucky and Valdosta State head man.
He’s best known for coaching Tim Couch and making the Wildcats respectable for about ten minutes. Something I bet you don’t know is that their defense is run by former Vanderbilt coach Woody Widenhofer.
This is a concern if you’re an Auburn fan. Widenhofer may have struggled at Vandy (who hasn’t?), but the guy knows how to coach defense. He was with the Pittsburgh Steelers during their glory years and even managed to upgrade the Commodores defense for a short time.
Obviously, New Mexico St. doesn’t have the talent to go straight up with Auburn, but you can bet Widenhofer will be able to throw some wrinkles at Kodi Burns. We’ll learn quickly how well Burns can read defenses and audible at the line of scrimmage. It should be interesting.
Speaking of interesting, here’s a stat for you. The last time Auburn had a quarterback rush for 100 yards in a game was in 1976 when Phil Gargis did it. Kodi Burns rushed for 87 yards in Saturday’s loss to Miss State.