Gus Malzahn Fielding Questions at SEC Media Days

By Posted on: July 14th, 2014 in Football, News 2 Comments »

In a Q&A session at SEC Media Days, Auburn Coach, Gus Malzahn covered topics from Nick Marshall’s status to his feelings about the 2013 SEC Championship year to his thoughts about the upcoming season. Gus said he feels good about where the Auburn program is at present but this year he wants players and coaches to have a mentality to be 13 seconds better in everything they do.

                           

A Pot Smoking, Flora-Bama Kind of Weekend

By Posted on: July 14th, 2014 in Football 14 Comments »
nick marshall 2

There’s a cloud hanging over the start of today’s SEC Media Days event. A cloud of marijuana smoke. Just when we thought this year’s event was going to be a ho-hum affair, Nick Marshall gets cited for smoking pot behind his over-tinted car windows.

Cue the drama.

The gripping misdemeanor over the weekend threatened to overshadow a piece of Alabama royalty. Of course, I’m talking about the magical wedding of A.J. McCarron and Katherine Webb. How fitting that Alabama’s first couple would have their rehearsal dinner at the Flora-Bama Bar.

aj-mccarron-and-girlfriend-kissThere’s still no word on whether Tom Arnold was there to film an episode of My Big Redneck Wedding. Then again, when tattoos cover half your body, aren’t you almost obligated to have your rehearsal dinner at a bar?

Let’s pray this story doesn’t get much coverage beyond the state borders. Can Alabama really afford another black-eye now that Paul Finebaum has gone national? And to think, this was all started by 75 year-old Brent Musburger. One little horny comment two years ago and now we have to endure this for the foreseeable future.

Now back to Marshall.

Regardless of your stance on pot, there’s no arguing that Marshall being pulled over with the stuff is a serious lapse in judgment. Then again, coaches kind of knew what they were signing up for when he arrived last year. You always run that risk.

I’m not ready to say the season has gone to hell before it starts. I’m also not going to equate pot with crack. Like it or not, the stuff is as readily available to college kids as cold beer on Friday night.

The bigger concern is that whether it is a joint or a beer, Marshall is the leader of this football team and with it comes responsibility. The act as a whole is forgettable. The idea that he’s doing it with a little over a month before kickoff is troubling.

University guidelines don’t require a suspension or forfeiture of games for a first offense – assuming this is the case. However, Gus Malzahn is facing a defining moment. The face of his team got caught with an illegal substance. Is he going to sit him for the opener or run him until he vomits and passes out?

It will be interesting to watch considering the issues his predecessor, Gene Chizik faced during his tenure. You’ll remember, one of the question marks surrounding Malzahn during the interview process was how tough he’d be when it came to player discipline.

With Auburn taking the stage today in Birmingham, all eyes will be on Malzahn, waiting to hear Marshall’s fate. You have to assume all of this will have a shelf life of a week. Then we can all get back to A.J. and Katherine.

Life in Alabama. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Should Nick Marshall Still Represent Auburn at SEC Media Days?

By Posted on: July 12th, 2014 in Football, News 18 Comments »
Auburn Football

                                                                                                                                                           (photo:Auburn media file)
By now most Auburn fans have heard the news that Auburn Quarterback Nick Marshall was cited in Georgia for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Marshall was on his way home when he was stopped for tinted windows.

It’s important to note that Nick was not arrested. He was allowed to leave but will have to pay a $1,100 fine by Sept.10th to avoid appearing in court. In today’s environment if this happened to the average young person it would not even be newsworthy. But Nick Marshall is not the average young person. When you’re a potential Heisman candidate and the offensive leader on an SEC Championship team, your actions reflect not only on yourself but on your team and especially your coach.

Malzahn released a statement to the media last night saying he was, “Very disappointed and I will address it with (Nick) accordingly.”

Nick’s story has been an uplifting one – till now. Given a second chance by Malzahn after being dismissed (as a D-back) from Georgia’s football program in 2011 he was able to fulfill a lifelong dream to play quarterback in the SEC. He had made such a turnaround in restoring not only his career but in assuming a leadership role on the Auburn Football Team.

And that one word “leadership” is why his misdemeanor drug offense is such a big deal. A big part of leadership is example. What Nick has done is set the wrong example for his teammates and for all those kids that  play backyard football wearing No.14.

He has also put the man who gave him a second chance in a more than uncomfortable position. He was scheduled to join Coach Malzahn and two other teammates at SEC Football Media Days which begins Monday. Now instead of Gus taking questions from the podium about how he feels his team will defend their SEC Championship, he will be peppered with questions about Nick’s punishment and future with the Tigers. Gus and the Auburn contingent will now have to deal with negative publicity in what otherwise should be a positive moment in the spotlight.

In light of all this, will Nick still be making the trip to Hoover? Will he be replaced by another Tiger, leaving his coach and teammates to answer questions about his actions?

It will be interesting to see what Gus chooses to do on Monday. But if it were me, I would still have Nick at Media Days. Let him take the embarrassing heat from the press. Maybe that will help him realize how a leader’s actions have consequences.

An East Visits West Headliner!

By Posted on: July 11th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 25 Comments »
Gamecock Preview

South Carolina is an important test for the Tigers.
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s time now for another Auburn opponent preview. On October 25th, after a week of rest, the Auburn Tigers host the South Carolina Gamecocks at Jordan Hare Stadium. Both teams will have been tested, and this game will be one Auburn needs to stay atop the SEC West. South Carolina showed in 2010 that it could lose this game, and still win the SEC East. These days in the West, even one SEC loss can eliminate a team.

     Much has been made this season about the difficulty of Auburn’s football schedule, but South Carolina has a tough slate as well. The Gamecocks open with a trio of of home games; beginning with a Thursday night clash with Texas A&M. East Carolina and Georgia then visit. South Carolina closes out September with a road trip to Vanderbilt, then they host defending East champ Missouri. A road trip to Kentucky starts the month of October off, followed by an off week, then a tune up against Furman, before the Gamecocks head to Auburn. With Georgia and Missouri already having been played, South Carolina will know where they stand in their division race, by this time. Auburn will have played Arkansas and San Jose State at home, Kansas State on the road, Louisiana Tech for homecoming, then LSU. The Tigers have an off-week coming into this game, and both teams should be relatively well-rested.

     Despite losing starting quarterback Connor Shaw and leading receiver Bruce Ellington, this should be a pretty dangerous South Carolina offense. They’ve got plenty of play-makers returning, starting with outstanding running back Mike Davis. New starting quarterback Dylan Thompson has plenty of experience coming off the bench for after Connor Shaw injuries, and should be adept as a passer. Where things will be different for South Carolina is that Thompson is much less of a scrambling threat, although he did notch 3 rushing touchdowns last season. South Carolina has depth and experience in both the receiving corps, and the backfield.

     Where it gets interesting for the Gamecocks is on the defensive side of the ball. Both the defensive line and secondary will have to be rebuilt. There is talent in the wings on the defensive line, but I’ve seen several previews that state that incoming signees might win starting cornerback jobs. That’s either a tribute to the incoming class, or a sign of real trouble, probably both. South Carolina will try to build upon experience at linebacker, and talented senior Brison Williams in the secondary. Williams might have to move to corner, if a pair of serviceable starters aren’t found in fall camp.

     On special teams, the Gamecocks return all three of their kicking specialists, and were more or less middle of the pack on both coverage units last season. Concerns include a ho-hum return game, and a fairly short 37.8 yards per punt. Much like Auburn did the past few years with Steven Clark, the idea seemed to be to generate high, floating punts that offered little chance for a decent return. Sophomore kicker Elliot Fry was a revelation as a freshman last season, doing very well.

Unit matchups, after the jump!

Auburn defensive line vs. South Carolina offensive line: Auburn’s final starting lineup next fall is a bit up in the air, at this point. I’d expect senior Gabe Wright to start somewhere, either at tackle or end. Expect tackles Angelo Blackson, Jeffery Whitaker, Montravius Adams, and Ben Bradley to all play prominent roles. LaDarius Owens will likely anchor the run-stopping end spot, with Elijah Daniels now the likely rush end starter. Carl Lawson will likely be a factor by October, but he’s coming off spring knee surgery. As much hype as the Carolina skill players get, the strength of their offense is on the line. It’s a veteran bunch returning, and they had the luxury of swapping some guys around this past spring. South Carolina has likely the biggest two tackles in the league in junior Brandon Shell and senior Corey Robinson. Senior A. J. Cann is a veteran, solid guard, and he’ll likely be joined by talented redshirt freshman Na’Ty Rodgers. Sophomore center Cody Waldrop had a bit of the injury bug as a freshman last season, as well as a few jittery shotgun snaps. By all accounts, he was much better last spring, so much so that he took some snaps at guard. I like Auburn’s chances of causing some disruption in the middle on this bunch, but the matchup on the edge looks pretty tough for the Tigers. Advantage: Even.

Auburn linebackers vs. South Carolina backs: Auburn’s starting linebackers coming out of spring drills are juniors Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy. Both are veteran, athletic SEC players, looking to make the next move up. South Carolina returns an experienced group of backs. Junior Mike Davis was the star last season with 1183 rushing yards and 34 receptions, but he’s not alone. Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson are experienced as well. Senior fullback Connor McLaurin is a blocking force when the Gamecocks decide to go heavy. I think experience and depth wins this matchup. Advantage: South Carolina.

Auburn corners vs. South Carolina receivers: Auburn is again fairly deep at corner, with veteran Jonathan Mincy hopefully locking down one spot, and either junior Joshua Holsey or junior Jonathan Jones at the other spot. Senior converted wide receiver Trovon Reed also looked pretty good in spring drills here. Auburn should be able to run with any receiving corps, and play physical run defense on the edges. They’ll have to, because South Carolina has some weapons at receiver. Outside, they’ll likely start junior Shaq Roland (25 catches last season) and sophomore Pharoah Cooper (3). There’s depth there as well, with Shamier Jeffery (6) and K. J. Brent (2). Advantage: Even.

Auburn safeties vs. South Carolina secondary receivers and quarterback: Senior Jermaine Whitehead anchors one spot here, and Auburn will feature either junior Joshua Holsey, or JUCO transfer Derrick Moncrief at the other position. Moncrief was a beast in spring drills, this year, and Holsey is a veteran. The top secondary receiver for South Carolina last season was running back Mike Davis. The backfield accounted for a total of 49 catches a year ago. Tight ends Rory Anderson and Jerrell Adams combined for 30 catches in 2013. At slot receiver, seniors Damiere Byrd and Nick Jones had 60 catches between them. A look at pass distribution tells the tale, for South Carolina. There was no one player that could be double-covered. Anyone can and will be targeted by this offense. The triggerman responsible for distributing that ball this season will be senior Dylan Thompson. He’s experienced, having thrown 89 passes last season, and he looked sharp in the Carolina spring game. If there’s a quibble from last year, it’s that he only hit 58.4 percent of his passes, with 3 interceptions to 4 touchdowns. His 8.8 yard per pass average was good. Advantage: South Carolina.

Punting: Auburn must start a new punter, here, going with redshirt freshman Jimmy Hutchenson, who had a really solid A-Day game. Senior Tyler Hull will again punt for South Carolina, and he averaged 37.8 yards per punt, with only 12 of 46 punts returned for an 8.2 yard average.Auburn gave up only 5 returns all season, for 35 yards. Auburn is still auditioning punt returners to replace Chris Davis. Sophomore Pharoah Cooper split time last season at punt returner, and had 9 returns for a 4.4 yard average. Advantage: South Carolina.

Kickoffs: Auburn must replace veteran kicker Cody Parkey, and will do it with redshirt freshman Daniel Carlson. Junior Landon Ard was the kickoff man for the Gamecocks last season, and he generated 36 touchbacks on 83 kickoffs. A concern is that he hit 5 kickoffs out of bounds. USC coverage gave up 22.5 yards per return, while Auburn gave up 25.8. Auburn senior Corey Grant ripped off 5 returns for a 32.0 yard average for Auburn as the top guy coming back. The Gamecocks counter with Pharoah Cooper, who averaged 22.4 yards per return last season. Advantage: South Carolina.

Place kicking: Auburn redshirt freshman Daniel Carlson is the man for Auburn. He hit a monster 51 yard field goal this year in the Auburn A-Day game, but also missed an extra point. South Carolina returns sophomore Elliot Fry, who hit 15 of 18 field goal attempts last season, including 6 of 8 from 40 yards or more. Advantage: South Carolina.

Auburn offensive line vs. South Carolina defensive line: Auburn returns 4 starters on a road-grading, violent offensive line. Greg Robinson moves on to the NFL, but Auburn has talent to replace him. From left to right, it’s sophomore Shon Coleman, sophomore Alex Kozan, senior all-SEC Reese Dismukes, senior Chad Slade, and sophomore Avery Young, with junior Patrick Miller still in the hunt to perhaps unseat one of the tackles for a starting job. South Carolina returns one starter on the defensive line, senior tackle J. T. Surratt, who was productive last season with 33 tackles. Junior Gerald Dixon has experience, and will likely a starting nod either at end or other tackle spot. Sophomore JUCO transfer Abu Lamin is said to be very talented, and may make some noise here as well. Sophomore Darius English played behind Clowney last season, and did pretty well. As to other ends, big things are expected of converted linebacker Cedrick Cooper, but injuries have been a problem. A patchwork defensive line will be a problem against Auburn’s front. Advantage: Auburn.

Auburn backs vs. South Carolina linebackers: Although Auburn lost Heisman finalist Tre Mason early to the NFL draft, Auburn should be fine here with seniors Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant. Grant was this year’s A-Day star, looking even more explosive and unstoppable. Add in a corps of talented newcomers, and it’s no secret Auburn will be able to tote the rock again this season. H-back is a bit thinner. Senior blocking specialist Brandon Fulse moves from end/receiver to take over the starting nod, but depth behind him is questionable. South Carolina returns a capable linebacker unit with junior Kaiwan Lewis and sophomore Skai Moore at Mike and Will, and senior Sharrod Golightly at Spur. Advantage: Auburn.

Auburn receivers vs. South Carolina corners: Auburn juniors Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis developed into one of the more dangerous receiving duos in the SEC, last season. Add in monster transfer D’haquille Williams, and this unit became downright scary this spring, with lots of depth behind the big three. This is a position of real concern for the Gamecocks. The penciled-in starters at the end of spring were sophomore Rico McWilliams and redshirt freshman Ali Groves. Advantage: Auburn.

Auburn secondary receivers and quarterback vs. South Carolina safeties: Auburn senior tight end C. J. Uzomah is a nightmare for safeties to cover. When Auburn needed to go to him late in games last season, C. J. was there every time to haul in the score. Auburn also has senior Quan Bray in the equation, who’s been the career quick screen guy. When guys start to clamp down on him, he can get open down the field. Auburn returns senior quarterback Nick Marshall, and he’s easily the most dangerous guy returning at the position in the SEC this fall. With a spring spent working on a shaky passing game, the sky’s the limit this fall. Marshall was devastating running the zone-read option last fall. Senior Brison Williams should be a steadying factor at the strong safety spot. Sophomore Chaz Elder currently has the nod at free safety. Advantage: Auburn.

     South Carolina is pretty much always dangerous on offense, and last year’s defense was among the better SEC units, giving up just 20.3 points per game. However, much of that defensive production has graduated or defected early to the NFL. With fairly overwhelming advantages at every spot on offense, the only thing stopping Auburn from having a big day will be themselves.

     South Carolina will move the ball and score some points, but I just don’t see them keeping up on the road in this game. Last time Spurrier was in Auburn, he lost his mind and played quarterback roulette in the 4th quarter, and 4 turnovers from that position cost South Carolina the 35-27 loss. I’d imagine we’ll see some visor-slinging in this game, as well.

Prediction: South Carolina can’t keep up with the Auburn fireworks. Tigers win, 41-23.

Auburn Pre-season Marked by Players Receiving National Recognition

By Posted on: July 11th, 2014 in Football, News 1 Comment »
14O2O7.AuSt.70- Nick runs over Tenn. - Auburn media, anthony hall

    Auburn Quarterback Nick Marshall continues to garner pre-season honors. (photo:Anthony Hall,Auburn media)

The days immediately following July 4th celebrations are always an exciting time of the year for college football fanatics. It’s a time when you can begin to tell the long off season is winding down and college football is just around the corner. While the second week of July brings the excitement of SEC Media Days, the first week marks the announcements of college football award watch list.

And just this week Auburn has had seven Tigers named to 10 different preseason honors.

* On Monday, Wide Receiver Sammie Coates and Quarterback Nick Marshall were named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, which goes to college football’s top college player. Sammie caught 42 passes for 902 yards and seven touchdowns last season and Nick threw for 1,976 yards and rushed for 1,068 more during 2013.

* Also on Monday came news that (Star) Safety Robenson Therezie is on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which goes to the top defender. Robenson made 57 tackles and led the team with four interceptions.

* Kris Frost was named to the Butkus Award which goes to the nation’s top linebacker. Frost had 59 tackles last season, including six for a loss.

* On Tuesday C.J. Uzomah was named to the Mackey Award list, which goes to the nation’s top tight end. Uzomah caught 11 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns last year in a run heavy offense.

* The same day, Center Reese Dismukes was once again honored as one of the nation’s best centers when he was place on the Rimington Trophy list. It was the third consecutive year for Reese to be so honored. Last season he was a Rimington finalists.

* Thursday saw Nick Marshall named as al.com’s conference pick for the Player of the Year in the SEC.

* Also Thursday brought big news when Defensive Tackle Gabe Wright joined Reese Dismukes and Offensive Guard Alex Kozan on the Outland Trophy Watch List. The Outland is a very prestigious award and goes to the nation’s top interior lineman.

Gabe also was placed on the watch lists for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top defensive player. He made 35 tackles last season including three sacks and nine tackles for a loss. Kozan was part of an O-Line that paved the way for the nation’s top rushing attack.

Out of 121 Division I schools, Auburn is one of just six programs in the nation to have three players on the Outland list. Should one of them win the honor, it would be the third time in history that an Auburn man won the Outland. Auburn greats Zeke Smith won in 1958 and Tracy Rocker took home the honor in 1988.

Congrats to these Tigers, you make us proud! Now lets move on to the next big event of the 2014 football season …

SEC Media Days begin Monday!

Tribute to the 2014 Track ‘Em Tigers Auburn Football Hall of Fame

By Posted on: July 9th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 5 Comments »
9243269 Frank  Sanders

                Frank Sanders with Bob Hope on the 1994 All-American TV Show. (photo:Auburn media file)
Auburn University has a football heritage that is one of the richest  in all of college sports. In fact, some of the greatest to ever play the game have worn the Orange and Blue. The Tigers have had four College Football Hall of Fame coaches, three Heisman Trophy winners, and are the twelfth Winn ingest program in Division I history.

Not only has Auburn won more SEC Championships than any other school in the last 10 years, the Tigers are the ninth most successful program in the last five decades. In addition, there have been over a thousand players to wear the Orange and Blue in that time span.

For that reason we turned to our members to help select the 2014 class 0f Track ‘em Tigers Hall of Fame.

Over a thousand TET members voted over the July 4th weekend and selected a 10 member class that features one former coach and six All-SEC players, four of whom made All-American.

The ten man class includes four offensive players, three defensive players and one special selection of a person who never played a down of college football.

Following are short bios on the selections for this year’s class.

"Iron Mike" Donahue

“Iron Mike” Donahue

Mike Donahue (Coach) 1904–1906, 1908–1922. Known as “Iron Mike,” Donahue is one of the most important names in the history of Auburn athletics. Coach Donahue had a .743 winning percentage with a record of 106 -35-5 in 18 seasons on The Plains. A record only surpassed by Gus Malzahn (for coaches who’ve coached more than five games).

He had three undefeated teams and won five Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles, in 1904, 1910, 1913, 1914 and 1919. His 1913 and 1914 teams have been retroactively recognized as national champions by various selectors with the ’13 team appearing in the NCAA record book.

In 1905, Donahue both started and coached Auburn’s first official varsity basketball team, which went 3–1 -1. He also served as athletic director, baseball coach, track coach, and soccer coach at one time or other while at Auburn.

One of four Auburn Coaches to have been inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame, Donahue Drive on which Jordan–Hare Stadium is located is named in his honor.

Ed Dyas

Ed Dyas

Ed Dyas (RB/LB/ST)  1958-60. A three way player at Auburn from 1958-60, Dyas was a star fullback, linebacker, and kicker. He is one of eight former Auburn players to be inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame. He led his team in rushing and scoring his senior year and was named the most outstanding back in the SEC. At the end of his Auburn career he was sixth on the all-time rushing list at Auburn.

As a kicker Ed was considered one of the most outstanding field goal kickers in the history of the sport. He rewrote the NCAA record books in 1960 for kickers. Four times during that season, Dyas won SEC games with his field goals, including kicking three in the first ever Auburn-Georgia game played in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Although the All-American finished fourth in the 1960 Heisman Trophy voting he elected to forgo an NFL career to attend medical school.

More after the jump including one who never played for Auburn.


fyffepic- Jim FyffeJim Fyffe (Radio announcer) 1981-2003. Named Alabama Sportscaster of the Year nine times during his career, he was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. Fyffe was and still is the most revered radio announcer in the history of Auburn Football.

His distinctive voice called the play-by-play for Auburn’s football teams for 22 years. There was never any doubt, that Jim was a homer and a man who loved Auburn - both traits that made his voice synonymous with Auburn Football. To this day, many fans can remember where they were when they heard him make one of his many famous calls. Current announcer, Rod Bramblett honors Jim today by using his distinctive “Touch d o w n n n … A u b u r n !” At the game, in the car, or at home, Jim was Auburn football.

e4cda36662277930efc9086289bb565c6078eb1b-David-LangnerDavid Langner (DB) 1971 -1973. His is a name that needs no introduction to Auburn people. He was the hero of the 1972 Iron Bowl game known as “Punt, Bama, Punt.” Down 16-3 to No.2 Alabama, he scooped up two blocked punts by bill Newton scoring both times to give Auburn it’s most wildest finish in Iron Bowl history (that is till this year’s “Kick six”). In addition, he sealed Bama’s fate with an interception on the last play of the game.

ESPN has ranked the game as one of the top defining moments of college football and in August 2010, they ranked the game as the 8th most painful outcome in college football history.

However what most folk don’t remember was that Langner was also an All-SEC Defensive back whose 12 career interceptions is tied for fifth in Auburn history. And David still holds the Auburn record with 287 interception return yards, including 108 in one game.

Philip+Lutzenkirchen+Auburn+v+Alabama+QnONi9JeCJ6lPhillip Lutzenkirchen (TE) 2009-2012. Perhaps one of the all-time fan favorites to ever play at Auburn. Although he had not been out of school long enough to be considered for the 2014 class, his name was placed on the ballot due to overwhelming support from our members.

A member of the 2010 National Championship team, Phillip was also one of the best Tight Ends to ever wear the Orange and Blue. Although his senior year was cut short by a hip injury, the All-SEC player still ranks first in touchdown receptions (14), second in total receptions (59) and third in receiving yards (628).

He was a consummate Tight End who had a knack for making big plays. Perhaps the one that will be remembered the most was when he scored the winning touchdown in the 2010 comeback win over Alabama. His name will forever go down in Iron Bowl lore along with such greats as David Langner, Lawyer Tillman, Bo Jackson, and Chris Davis.

A hip injury cost him his senior season and what had looked like a promising NFL career.

297404_display_imageDameyeune Craig (QB) 1993-1997. One of the most electrifying quarterbacks to ever play for Auburn. He did things on the gridiron that has rarely been seen in college football. Fans who saw Cam Newton may be the only Auburn quarterback to come close to the acrobatic exploits of the former signal caller.

He led Auburn in setting an offensive team record of 588 total yards in a 62-0 victory over Fresno State. In his senior year, he led Auburn to the SEC Western Division title and a berth in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta where the Tigers lost a narrow 30-29 game to Peyton Manning and Tennessee.

The current Auburn Offensive Coordinator went on to play professionally for the Carolina Panthers and the Scottish Claymores in NFL Europe – where he set a pro football passing record of 611 yards. The jersey he wore in that game now hangs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2004_CFB_AUBURN_LARGERonnie Brown (RB) 2000 -2004. The two time All-SEC selection was part of Auburn’s Dynamic Duo that included Cadillac Williams. Despite backing up Williams his first two seasons, he scored 30 touchdowns at Auburn and finished his career with 3,475 all purpose yards; which was good enough to be ranked seventh in the history of Running back U.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said that the duo along with Quarterback Jason Campbell made up the best backfield in the past 30 years as they led the team to a 13-0 record and a No.2 final ranking. Tubby still maintains today that the ’04 bunch should be recognized as national champions.

Brown was drafted with the 2nd overall pick in the First Round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and after 10 years he is still playing professional football.

1994_Sanders,_FrankFrank Sanders (WR) 1991-94. Named to the 2013 Class of SEC Football Legends, Frank truly is an Auburn and SEC legend. He led the SEC in receiving yards (910) his senior year and finished his career in second place on Auburn’s all-time list of total receptions (121), with 1,998 total yards, and 15 touchdowns. The stellar performance led to him being named First Team All-SEC as well as an All-American in 1994.

He was immortalized among Auburn fans by Jim Fyffe’s famous “Nix to Sanders” call in the 1993 Iron Bowl when trailing Bama, he caught a 4th and 14 touchdown pass from Patrick Nix. The two duplicated the feat the next season to upset No.1 Florida in the Swamp.

He went onto play nine seasons in the NFL mostly with the Arizona Cardinals, retiring after 2003 with 507 career receptions for 6,749 yards and 24 touchdowns.

David_Rocker_crop_250David Rocker (DT) 1987-90. When college football fans hear the name Rocker most think of  Auburn’s Lombardi Trophy winner Tracy Rocker. However, his brother David made just as big an impact on those great Pat Dye teams of the late eighties.

While David didn’t win the Lombardi (which recognizes the nation’s top collegiate lineman) he was a finalist for the award in1990. He also joined his brother Tracy in becoming a first team All-American in 1990. He was a two-time consensus All-SEC player in 1989 and 1990 and went on to play four seasons for the Los Angeles Rams.

After narrowly missing TET’s Hall of Fame last year, it’s great to see the fans put him in the 2014 class.

Auburn v Georgia X DansbyKarlos Dansby (LB) 2001-03. A two time All-SEC selection and First Team All-American, Dansby was a Butkus Award semi-finalist his senior year after making 84 tackles including 14 tackles for a loss with 5.5 sacks, 6 pass deflections, and 4 caused fumbles.

Known as one of the hardest hitting linebackers to ever play in the SEC Karlos had a total 219 career tackles, 36 for a loss, 10 sacks,15 pass deflections and eight interceptions. I just wish Auburn could clone him for 2014.

He was the first pick of the second round in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. And after 10 seasons ,the All-Pro is still at the top of his game.

So there you have it – the 2014 class of  Track ‘em Tigers Auburn Football Hall of Fame.

We want to express our appreciation to everyone that participated in the process of nominating and or voting the last few days. Selecting 10 names from such a storied program like Auburn is a very difficult task. After all, there have been hundreds of other worthy nominees to play for the Tigers including 70 All-Americans and over 243 first team All-SEC players. So this class, just like Auburn Football, is in a class by themselves.

War Eagle!

Some Memorable Plays (from the past) – 1983 Auburn vs. Florida Edition

By Posted on: July 8th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football, Memories 5 Comments »
23afe021f64f14053c7e9161336e1f4e - Bo

Greetings, fellow football-starved sons and daughters of the Burnt Orange and Navy Blue!  Once again I have crawled out from my rock to share a few memories of one of the first significant games I ever saw as a student at Auburn- the 1983 Florida game, which ended up a hard-fought 28-21 win for the Tigers.

mxayTbVn0lwfU_z3YrjIbDw - 1983The game itself was just another brutal SEC contest featuring the wishbone offense of Auburn against a particularly nasty defense by the Gators (featuring Wilbur Marshall and Alonzo Johnson, among others). In fact, the game program from the 1990 AU-FL game noted that there were more NFL stars (draft picks or starters, I can’t remember the criteria) on the starting line-ups of the two teams together than in any other college football game at any time.

On a personal note, I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, which was brutal territory for any Auburn fan, especially a young one during the Barfield years. Bulldogs and Seminoles (and a few proto-Hurricanes) were rife of course, but for absolute fan rivalry annoyance no one can beat Gator fans. AU’s yearly rivalry with the Gators, now a sad casualty of SEC divisional realignment, gave me an annual opportunity for the pain of dealing with these Gators. I think I am a Gator Hater more than any Bulldog that walks the earth. When it was annual, this was ‘The Game’ I cared about, even more than Georgia or Alabama.

To complete the scene, my folks were visiting me at college for the first time, and I was looking forward to seeing them. We had three seats in the regular fan section of the North end zone (back in the day when regular-dues-paying alumni like my Dad- and now me – could get single-game tickets to decent games). We settled in on a beautiful day at Jordan-Hare for what promised to be a great matchup.

After the jump, I’ll describe a few plays from that game that still stand out in my mind even after all these years (and provide some video clips):

The (Little) Train Goes down the (Side) Track

Bo Jackson ran an amazing 55-yard TD on AU’s opening drive.  After an exchange of touchdowns made the score 14-7, Auburn got the ball on their own 20 yard-line late in the second quarter. As Pat Dye often did, he substituted the whole offensive line (without much drop off in quality) as well as much of the wishbone backfield. The second team drove the ball pretty much the length of the field, down to the Florida 17, coming straight towards Mom, Dad, and me in the stands.

301588 - Lionel JamesAt that point, the first team came back in, with the crowd cheering the second team for their work on that drive. Bo had been baffling the Gators all game, and UF was apparently keying on him a little too much, as the next play showed. The ball was snapped, then Randy Campbell went right, Bo Jackson went right, and eleven Florida Gators went right (well, to their left). Meanwhile, Lionel “Little Train” James went left, as Campbell had surreptitiously slipped him the football, and ran against the grain of the entire Gator defense, who had nothing but a few hand-tackle attempts looking back over their shoulders as their momentum-filled bodies moved the wrong way. Result: a 17-yard touchdown, a 21-7 halftime score, and all of it played out in front of me in the best seats in the house for that play!

In the Jordan-Hare concourse at halftime, we heard an enthusiastic Auburn fan holler, “Gator tails will be sold in the parking lot at the conclusion of today’s game!” Dad and I both winced, as we knew that you could not count out UF at any time, even with a hefty (by eighties football standards) two-touchdown lead.  Although the next two plays I remember had us thinking that fellow was right….

From Touchdown to Touchback

A few months earlier, I had just asked my brother-in-law what the call would be if a team fumbled out of the opponent’s end zone before crossing the goal line for a touchdown. Well, his answer was proved correct, when it happened in this game (again right in front of me and my folks).

As I noted above, the Gators were not going to surrender their tails that easily, and to open the third quarter, Florida had relentlessly driven the ball down inside the Auburn 10. UF’s own lightning-fast running back, Neal Anderson, took the handoff and darted into open space with nothing but the cool October air between him and the goal-line. I saw a Tiger defender running after him and thought, “What’s the point, he’s already scored.” Well, I am glad Auburn DB Tommy Powell didn’t read my mind, because just like Antoine Carter did to Mark Ingram, he punched the ball out of  Neal’s arms, just before he crossed the goal line, with the ball rolling out the side of the end zone for an Auburn touchback (FYI, under today’s rules, the ball in this situation would have been awarded to Auburn at the point of the fumble).

This was an amazing play on its own, but what really made this play memorable was what happened next….

From Touchback to Touchdown

On Auburn’s first play from the 20, Bo Jackson just blows through the Gator defensive line and seriously outraces all the UF defensive backs. “That’s a 14-point swing!” I said to Dad as we watched Jackson’s “tail lights” recede toward the far goal line, on just another day at the office for Bo. But even at 28-7, the Gators weren’t finished, as Pat Dye had the tendency to take his foot off the gas pedal after building a lead. As a result, UF scored twice in the fourth quarter and even recovered an onside kick to make the game more “interesting” than I would have liked. Nonetheless, in the end the defense held, as also shown earlier in the game….

Goal-Line Stand(s)

Here is where my memory is fuzzy. I do remember that the Gators had several first-and-goals during the game, and they did score one short-yardage touchdown late in the game. However, at least once and maybe even twice, Auburn’s defense responded like the fence in the old Osmose (now Yella-Wood) lumber ad, and turned the Gators away on four straight downs inside the two yard-line. Oh, nothing could make an Auburn fan feel proud like a great goal-line stand by the Men in Blue, back when real men went for it on fourth-and-goal from inches out.

Here is a clip of Bo’s two touchdowns (as the kids say these days, they are both just sick), sandwiching that great defensive play by Tommy Powell:

                        

Here are two more clips from the AU locker room after this game, featuring Randy Campbell and the original Great One, both clips being nabbed from our fellow Auburn blog, The War Eagle Reader:

                         

                         

And just for giggles, here is Pat Dye’s Osmose lumber commercial, to which I alluded above:

                         

I really need to do more complete, source-document research like the other folks here at TET, instead of relying on my memory and pieces of information from Google (since both are not what they used to be).  Nonetheless, these particular plays still stand out clearly through the fog of time, and are now part of our great Auburn lore – and I’m glad I was there!

Michael Val

(who wouldn’t mind anyone correcting anything that I got wrong above)

The Real Definition of Rich

By Posted on: July 7th, 2014 in Football 3 Comments »
Lutz

Society has its own definition of rich. The visual images include big homes, foreign cars, swimming pools and vacation cottages. Last week, Phillip Lutzenkirchen gave us the real image of rich. Looking at those pictures of a full high school football stadium in Atlanta during his memorial service, you realized this young man was among the richest of all.

Thousands don’t show up for a service because a guy was a great football player. He was so much more. There are few who go through life never making an enemy. There are fewer who touch so many lives in such a short period of time. Phillip did all those things in 23 short years.

I’ll always have those memories of him on the football field, but the lasting one for me was a football stadium full of people gathered to pay their final respects. That’s what you call rich. Even in death, Phillip Lutzenkirchen continues to teach us all. We’ve been blessed to share in his life…

With the attention on football, new Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl continues to quietly put his program back on solid footing. A big piece of that is getting buy-in from past players and coaches.

Recently, Pearl was able to put together a reunion on campus of the old guard, including Charles Barkley, Sonny Smith, Cliff Ellis, Chuck Person and Chris Porter. It was a collection of greats that couldn’t be imagined a year ago.

Pearl says he can’t succeed without them and that includes former coach and current Coastal Carolina head man Cliff Ellis.

“When Bruce called me, I said, ‘Bruce, I’m not ready,’” Ellis told Charles Goldberg. “He said, ‘Your players think you’re ready, and it’s time for you to come back. Cliff, your group is making a statement for the things I’ve tried to do. I need you to help me to get this thing going.”

It was his first visit back to campus since being released more than 10 years ago. Getting Ellis back to campus is a statement itself on the determination of Pearl to build Auburn into a contender.

While Auburn basketball has had few sustained highlights, those in the room that evening show us that the program can win at a high level. Having Barkley and Person active in the program should make everyone feel better about the winter months.

Now back to football.