The Report Is In – Gogue Expects Jay Jacobs to Make Necessary Improvements

By Posted on: May 13th, 2013 in Baseball, Basketball, Football, News, Other Sports 8 Comments »

gogue2- jay GogueThe much awaited report of the committee on Auburn Athletics has given their report to University President Jay Gogue.

Dr Gogue had charged the committee to take a look at five criteria for evaluating the athletic department: (1) academic and support services for student-athletes, (2) financial management, (3)customer service, (4) competition, including winning, sportsmanship and compliance, and (5) management structure.

In an open letter to the Auburn Family, Dr Gogue voiced support for Jacobs and the Athletic department while at the same time saying he expects “improvement in the overall operations,” and the upgrading of, “how we interact and communicate with fans and alumni, and enhance the game-day experience, on and off the field.”

There has been increased interest this year in the President’s evaluation of Jacobs and the Athletic Department due to the most dismal two years of Auburn sports in recent memory.

While new Auburn Women’s Basketball Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy took her team to the WNIT and the Equestrian team won another National Championship , the major sports have not had a good year. In addition, since Auburn won the BCS Championship two years ago, the big three major sports have struggled.

The basketball team has been terrible, football  had it’s worst season in 60 years and the baseball team has not made an NCAA Baseball Tournament since winning the West in 2010. Barring Pawlowski’s Tigers winning the SEC Tournament (an extreme longshot), Auburn will finish the year without winning a conference or division championship for the first time in 20 years.

The alumni and fans have been waiting to see if Dr Gogue takes any action. In his public response to the committee’s report he said:

“There’s much to celebrate about Auburn Athletics, but there’s also room for substantial improvement. I look forward to Jay providing the leadership needed to make the necessary improvements.”

Everyone agrees there is plenty of “room for substantial improvement” and Gogue says that, Jacobs will “talk more about what’s in store.”  He is scheduled to speak to the Auburn Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning. Wonder if we will hear what he plans to do to make those “necessary improvements”

Readers can view Dr Gogue’s open letter after the jump:

Dear Auburn family,

The committee I appointed to review operations of Auburn Athletics as part of the Department’s annual evaluation has provided its findings. I’m grateful to members of the committee for their hard work, good thinking and dedication to helping Auburn Athletics move forward.

We asked the committee to review the Department’s total body of work with a focus on five areas: academic and support services for student-athletes; financial management; customer service; competition, including winning, sportsmanship and compliance; and management structure.

Athletics Director Jay Jacobs and I have talked in length about their recommendations. In general, they center on steps to improve overall operations of the Department, upgrade how we interact and communicate with fans and alumni, and enhance the game-day experience, on and off the field. Jay will talk in more detail about what’s in store, and I’m confident he will move forward to put in place a plan to give the Auburn family what we all expect.

There’s much to celebrate about Auburn Athletics, but there’s also room for substantial improvement. I look forward to Jay providing the leadership needed to make the necessary improvements.

War Eagle!

Jay Gogue

“Are you about TREE, or are you about FOOTBALL?”

By Posted on: April 18th, 2013 in Baseball, Basketball, Business - Entertainment, Football, Other Sports 11 Comments »
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                                 The last roll will take place on April 20, 2013.

(Author’s note: In view of the fact that our Oaks’ time on the Plains is drawing to a close, I thought I would update and re-run the first article I wrote over here at the new Track ‘Em Tigers, about a true experience I had last summer.  MVH)

My wife Eileen and I were enjoying our first not-visiting-relatives vacation since…our honeymoon four years ago, staying at her mother’s vacation condo in Hilton Head (which is about the only way we could afford to “do” Hilton Head). After our beach-and-pool day, we decided to go to the iconic Salty Dog Café for dinner. Getting a table meant an hour-and-a-half wait, so we took a seat at one of the outdoor bars to eat.

Although she is a Montevallo graduate and a total non-sports fan (yes, I don’t know how we got together either), I finally got my wife to understand what it means to be a part of the Auburn family after taking her to the National Championship celebration and a Homecoming game. I think she got the picture after seeing 80,000 people all wearing the same shirt. In any case, Eileen and I were both wearing Auburn t-shirts and coordinating shorts, not quite matchy-matchy (although I really don’t mind going completely matchy-matchy, which is one of my endearing qualities according to her) but close enough.

A fellow sitting by himself on another side of the bar to our right was talking to everyone around and no one in particular, with a misplaced sense of bravado and self-assuredness that men sitting by themselves at a bar often have. He wore a cap with the legend “NO1 GR8TR” on the front and the Kentucky “K” on the side. It didn’t take him long to notice our Auburn attire. “Awww, you’re from Auburn,” he said, thereby becoming Mr. MOTO (Master Of The Obvious) in my mind. “That’s okay, I like Auburn, they’re SEC, that’s good,” he continued. “But look out for these folks,” he said, pointing to a couple on the other side of the bar from us, “They are Alabama!” Eileen and I exchanged a pleasant wave with the Bama contingent (who incidentally were not wearing colors, and didn’t even look like they were going to make a deal about AU, Bama, or anything else for that matter).

Someone asked him what the notation on his cap meant. “It means ‘No One Greater’—that sure describes me!” Mr. MOTO guffawed, and explained it also represented Kentucky’s recent NCAA Basketball Championship. I really couldn’t ignore this fellow, and the misplaced bravado and self-assuredness was starting to rub me the wrong way. I butted in, “If the ball isn’t pointy or has laces, I don’t really care about it,” which refers to my love of football, rugby, and baseball, and my total present indifference to basketball. “That’s what happens when you can’t win championships,” he rejoindered, thereby scoring a cheap and inelegant, yet nonetheless valid, zinger on me.

True to what I dubbed him in my mind, Mr. MOTO continued on: “Hey, you got those trees down there at, what-do-they-call-it?” thus engaging me in more conversation than I wanted. “Toomers Corner, right in front of the Auburn campus,” I filled in. “Yeah, they poisoned them trees, what’s going on with that?” he asked. The Bama people then jumped right on into the conversation, chirping brightly, “But the trees are alright now.” “No, they are not,” I replied back, “They are biologically alive, and may stay that way for a while, but our horticulture department at Auburn says they may be what they call ‘aesthetically dead’ soon.” Not wanting to be left out of the conversation that he started, Mr. MOTO interjected, pointing at me and saying “Hey listen—Are you about TREE, or are you about FOOTBALL?”

My heart skipped a beat for a second when I heard that, and I had to catch my breath. I’d like to think the whole outdoor bar went silent, like in an old western movie, waiting for my reply (of course, it didn’t).

“I’m about AUBURN,” I told this fellow, and the Bama folks, and anyone else who wanted to hear my voice at normal speaking level. “Those trees are a part of our campus, and that campus is a part of our tradition, and all those things, plus every Auburn man and woman who ever passed under those trees, make up Auburn. Auburn is more than trees, or football, or any other thing. I’m about AUBURN.”

Fortunately, our food finally came, and I was relieved to be free from the conversation into which I was reluctantly drawn. A woman came up to me and said, “I think it is just TERRIBLE what they did to those trees.” And it is terrible, but it is more terrible to think why someone would do that to our trees. Folks, the man who “allegedly”admittedly poisoned our trees did that not because he is a jerk, not because he hates trees, and not because he has “too much Bama” in him (a sentiment which was repudiated by the family of Tommy Lewis, the originator of the quote). That man “allegedly” did this because he wanted to hurt all of us that hold Auburn dear. As such, he “allegedly” did this because he, along with all the Bama fans that now idolize him, stands, at heart, against all that Auburn really is. The thing is, he really isn’t smart enough to understand that about himself, but it is still true nonetheless.

So, folks, as we live our lives and scream “WAR EAGLE” and mourn our trees and enjoy our football, let’s remember one thing—at heart, we are all about AUBURN, and no less than all of AUBURN.

Michael Val

(who believes in Auburn…ALL of Auburn…and LOVES IT!)

Tigers WNIT Run Halted by Drexel but Hopes Raised for Future of Program

By Posted on: March 30th, 2013 in Basketball 1 Comment »
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 First year Auburn Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy brought a winning attitude to Women’s Basketball.

The  hot shooting Auburn Women’s Basketball Team that easily handled their first three opponents in the WNIT – suddenly went cold this evening in the quarter-finals. The Tigers shot only 15 percent in the first half and fell behind Drexel 30-12 at the break.

Auburn shooting improved in the second half with the Tigers actually outscoring Drexel 31-26 but it was too little too late, as they fell to the Dragons 56-43.

The home loss was a sad way for the seniors to finish out their careers.

But these ladies bought into first year coach Terri Williams-Flournoy’s style of play and did Auburn proud by making it to the fourth round of the tournament.

Some counted the Tigers out during a losing streak midway through the season. Yet they didn’t give up on their coach or on each other and with true Auburn Spirit fought hard to get back on track.

Coach Williams-Flournoy said, “When we had our eight-game losing streak they could have just taken a dive. They could have said the season was done and given up. That is not what they did. They came back and played extremely hard.”

The Tigers finished up the season 19-15 including a deep run into the WNIT. Today’s loss may have been a sad moment for the Tigers but it was also an encouraging one, because now these Tigers have  laid a strong foundation for the future.

War Eagle ladies!

Tigers Continue to Chase Championship Tonight in the Arena

By Posted on: March 30th, 2013 in Basketball 3 Comments »
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Tyrese Tanner scored 25 points with 11 rebounds in WNIT 3rd round victory over Tulane March 27.

In what has turned out to be a pleasant surprise, the Auburn women Basketball Team has cruised through the first three rounds of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, dispensing opponents by an average of 20 points per game.

However, in tonight’s 6 p.m. quarterfinal game, Auburn (19-14) faces a team that brings an unconventional style of offense heretofore unseen by the Tigers.

Drexel University (25-10) runs a motion offense that Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy  says is impossible to simulate in practice. “We’re going against a motion-type offense … that’s something we haven’t been faced up against.”

Trying to defend it will present a big challenge. It will be a clash between the unconventional motion offense against Auburn’s high pressure defense. It’s anybody’s guess which style will win out.

But this writer gives the edge to the Tigers for two reasons:

First, Auburn will be playing their fourth consecutive tournament game at home. You can just see the player’s confidence level increase with each game. Second, just because the Tigers have convincingly defeated their first three opponents, doesn’t mean they haven’t been tested.

In the third round game against Tulane for example, the Green Wave made several charges, including a 13-2 run in the second period. Each time the Tigers fought back to take control.

While junior  sensation Tyrese Tanner has been impressive with her 26 point per game average, 23 rebounds, and 11 steals … the most impressive thing so far has been the Tigers ability to withstand opponent’s charges and not wilt.

That’s always the mark of a championship caliber team. And It looks more and more like these Tigers have that championship swagger. Win tonight, and Auburn will be headed to the Final Four.

Let’s go Tigers!

Tigers Blow Out Tulane 72 – 52, Advance to WNIT Elite Eight

By Posted on: March 27th, 2013 in Basketball 4 Comments »
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Auburn’s Tyrese Tanner (32) blocks Tulane’s Jamie Kaplan (24) during the Tigers WNIT Sweet 16 victory at the Auburn Arena.

Another Auburn opponent bit the dust tonight as the Women’s Basketball Team defeated their third post season foe by blowing out Tulane 72 – 52.

As with the first two wins, the Tigers did it with a high pressure defense that had 11 steals; which set a new school record for steals with 396.

A red hot Tyrese Tanner again led the way, this time by hitting her first double-double with  25 points and 11 rebounds.

Coach Williams-Flournoy has her Tigers hitting on all cylinders. And it looks like they are playing their best basketball of the year.

The Tigers now advance to the WNIT Elite Eight, and will play the winner of Thursday’s Drexel-Bowling Green game.

Congrats Tigers and keep it going!

Auburn Plays In WNIT Sweet 16 Tonight

By Posted on: March 27th, 2013 in Basketball 1 Comment »
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Auburn’s Tyrese Tanner (32) drives past Western Kentucky’s Bianca McGee (22) during the second round of the WNIT Sunday, March 24, 2013, at the Auburn Arena.

Auburn women will play another round of the WNIT tonight at the Auburn Arena as the Tulane Green wave come to town. Both teams have made it to the Sweet 16 level of the Tournament.

Auburn (18-14) easily handled their first two opponents, UAB and Western Kentucky, using Coach Williams-Flournoy’s trademark full court press.

However the Green wave (24-8) should be ready for Auburn’ style since they lost a regular season game to the Tigers 70-65. Tulane will be seeking some revenge for that one as the Tigers rallied from a 14 point deficit to get the victory.

“It is so hard when you play a team in November because they are so much more mature now,” Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “Right now, Tulane is probably playing their best basketball, but I think at this point in the season, teams are not changing that much. We are who we are and Tulane is who they are.”

Auburn center Peyton Davis said, Tulane was, “undefeated until they played us, so I think we all kind of realize that they’re going to come in here hot, wanting to win this game,”

But expect the Tigers to make it close as they appear to be playing their best basketball of the year; led by Terese Tanner who is averaging close to 27 points, six rebounds, three blocks and 3.5 steals.

At any rate it’s a great match up with the winner advancing to the elite eight (semifinals) against the winner of the Bowling Green – Drexel game. Tip off is at 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcast over the Auburn Radio network.

Go Tigers!

Monday Musings

By Posted on: March 24th, 2013 in Baseball, Basketball, Football, News, Other Sports 5 Comments »
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A New Era in Accessibility.

Expect to see a lot more of the Auburn football team this spring. While former coach Gene Chizik preferred keeping a lid on practices, Gus Malzahn is opening things up a bit. While we won’t be returning to the open policies of Tommy Tuberville, the media will have a half hour a day to watch practice. Unfortunately, fans will still be locked out when things get started Wednesday.

Malzahn also plans to make coaches and players more accessible after practice. Auburn will practice 14 times before closing things out on A-Day April 20th…

I don’t know about you, but sentencing for Harvey Updyke last week was somewhat anti-climatic. The Toomer’s Tree killer was given a three year prison sentence, but in reality will only serve another six months. He’ll be placed on five years probation and will be prohibited from attending any college sporting events or speaking with the media. He’ll have a nightly curfew of 7 p.m. I say there’s no way he goes five years without violating parole. I predict at least two additional visits to the big house in the coming years…

Watching all the upsets by these small schools in March Madness makes you wonder why programs like Auburn and Georgia can’t compete. These small programs don’t have the shoe contracts or recruiting budgets of schools in the SEC, yet find a way to compete. As long as I’ve watched Auburn basketball, I’ve never been able to figure it out…

While some still believe this Auburn baseball team has a chance to be good, starting off 0-6 in conference makes you really question that logic. Then again, opening against the second and third ranked teams in the country is no easy task. You have to believe a good team would at least grab one win. Losing both series to Vanderbilt and LSU was maybe expected, get swept six straight was certainly not.

I’ll hold off passing judgement on this team for a few weeks, before putting them in the basket with football and basketball. It’s a big hole to overcome, but all is not lost – yet…

We saw this coming from 10 miles away. The Toomer’s Oaks slated to come down in a few weeks will quickly be converted to souvenirs. However, if you were hoping to buy a big slab of wood with Toomer’s written on it, you’re out of luck. Because of licensing issues, they’ll be called Auburn Oaks. Nobody loves the tradition of rolling those trees more than me, but without the Toomer’ name on them, the appeal is just not there. I’ll pass…

Word is, Auburn will be putting up power lines along Toomer’s Corner next season for fans to roll. There won’t actually be power running to them like the old days, but it will take the tradition back to where it started. Before fans turned to the oaks, they rolled the power lines situated on the corner. It may be four years before the soil is suitable for planting on the site. All in all, this is probably the best short term solution…

Despite them being our hated rival, you hate to see Alabama athletic director Mal Moore exit like he did. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone on either side of the rivalry that had a bad word to say about him. He’s had some tough personal battles in recent years. I hope he finds peace in retirement… 

Auburn Women Host First Round WNIT at the Arena

By Posted on: March 19th, 2013 in Basketball 1 Comment »
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       Terri-Williams Flournoy is taking her Tigers to the postseason in her first year.

The Auburn Women’s Basketball Team has been selected to the WNIT. The selection committee made the announcement Monday night. It will be the Tigers 22nd trip to the post season and the fourth appearance all-time in the WNIT.

It also marks the first appearance for Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy as the coach of the Tigers. Overall, it’s her fifth postseason appearance in nine seasons as a head coach and her second WNIT appearance. She led Georgetown to the NCAA Tournament in 2010, 2011

“We are really looking forward to playing in the WNIT,” said Williams-Flournoy. “Making the postseason in our first season here at Auburn was a goal of ours and this will be a great experience for our players as we continue to build this program back to where it should be.

“You cannot simulate the tournament atmosphere and what it means to play for a championship and we are excited that our young ladies will have that opportunity.”

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT, Wednesday. Tickets for the game are available and are $10 for Reserved (Risers A, B, & C and Sections 101-104), $7 for General Admission and $5 for Students. Tickets can be purchased online at www.AUBTix.com, by phone at 1-855-AUB-2010 and in person at the Auburn Arena ticket box office.

Those that can make it, need to come out and support our Tigers at the Arena Wednesday.
Lets go Tigers!
 

UPDATE: Auburn beats UAB 80-57, and will advance to play the winner of East Carolina-Western Kentucky in the second round.