Chuck Person Says AU Basketball Will be Fast Paced Like Malzahn’s No Huddle Offense

By Posted on: April 8th, 2014 in Basketball 3 Comments »

Chuck Person says he’s on the same page with Head Coach, Bruce Pearl. Flanked by his high school coach Earl Henderson and his Auburn coach Sonny Smith, the New Auburn Basketball Assistant promised at his hiring press conference to work hard to bring success to the Auburn program.

Chuck talks in the following video about his decision and about his desire to return Auburn Basketball to prominence. He sounds like a man who is already on the recruiting trail. “We’re going to run a no-huddle offense like Coach Malzahn does with the football team.”

“We’re going to get after it,” said Person. “We’re going to play fast, play smart, play tough. We’re going to rebound and defend. It’s going to be a fun game.We’re going to shoot three’s, we’re going to have fun. We may miss some of them, but we’re going to shoot them. So if any kids out there want to come to have fun, they need to come to Auburn (because) Auburn University is the place to be.”

                             

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Gene Chizik’s Daughter Goes to the Prom

By Posted on: April 7th, 2014 in Football 9 Comments »
Chizik Daughter

The picture says it all.

In fact, it may be the greatest father-daughter photo ever taken. Gene Chizik’s daughter went to the prom this weekend. Apparently, Gene wasn’t overly thrilled with her choice. Maybe it’s the long hair. Maybe it’s the thought of this boy taking his baby anywhere.

If you’re the father of a teenage girl, you understand the facial expression. Look up the term “father’s angst” and you’ll see that photo.

The boy’s mother took the picture and Tweeted it later that evening with the caption, “You think my son will come home from the prom alive?”

It looks like Chiz is flexing those guns. Maybe he wore the shirt on purpose, to send a subtle message. Pure gold…

saban sacrificeSpeaking of pictures, what would we do without Bammer Nation? This picture has been making the rounds of social media. I’m not really sure what the father is doing with his child. Offering her up for sacrifice? Asking Nick Saban to bless and protect her?

In the words of Verne Lundquist, “Oh my goodness.”

It has gone from bad to worse for the fledgling SEC Network. We just thought adding Paul Finebaum and Jesse Palmer to the network was bad. It was announced last week that former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy will join Joe Tessitore and Tim Tebow on the channel’s version of College GameDay this fall.

Who are the morons hiring the talent?

McElroy may be the biggest twit to ever play college football. His face immediately pisses off half the people who see it. Now we are being subjected to this each Saturday? I think I’ll stick with Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit.

They’ve also hired two more analysts, both from LSU. Former Tiger defensive linemen Booger McFarland and Marcus Spears will provide commentary on game day. I can’t hear it now, “Let’s send things back to Booger in the booth.”

Can I get another, “Oh my goodness?”

One of the big story lines of spring practice so far has been the play of backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson. While the upcoming season will be firmly in the hands of Nick Marshall, those looking to the future can breathe easier.

More than one insider has said that Johnson has closed the gap considerably. Known for his pocket passing, Gus Malzahn has the sophomore working on his running skills when in the zone read.

“I’m getting better every day,” says Johnson. “I watch film. I do better. I’m practicing on carrying out my fake. “It wasn’t anything I ever did. It’s just the simple fact with my footwork and how to do it and the right read.”

“He’s way faster than you would think, he’s way smarter with the zone read because he knows how to get to the edge,” safety Jermaine Whitehead said. “He uses his body, his length, to his advantage. He steps around a lot of guys; I’ve seen him make some steps around our D-ends that were pretty spectacular.” 

Up-scaling Cafe’ Malzahn for 2014

By Posted on: April 4th, 2014 in Football 5 Comments »


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Coat and tie are now required

Welcome back to the Cafe Malzahn. We’ve revamped our menu to offer the latest Tiger-friendly cusine. Same inviting environment, same excellent service for an elegant dining experience unmatched anywhere. We hope you enjoy your meal from our extensive selection of fast seared, quick braized and speed grilled SEC meats served to you in record time.

Any analysis needs to be reviewed for relevance from time to time. My amatuer statistics are no exception. One of the most glaring anomolies I found last season was that teams seemed to have outlier quirks in my assessment that defied logic. For example, I would often find that a team being analyzed would show awful statistics on offense, yet have exceptional red zone performance. There were also examples of exceptional offenses that had disturbingly poor red zone numbers.

When I looked further, I found that sometimes the kicking game would skew these numbers. So I looked at Red Zone touchdown production for the last seven years for Auburn and had another ‘ah hah’ moment.

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Take a look at the Red Zone production in 2007, 2011 and 2012, where Auburn had some of the worst offensive production in the last decade and see how it is jarringly divergent from the Red Zone Touchdown production in those same years. In 2008, Wes Byrum was asked to kick quite a few slim percentage long balls and his success suffered.

Call it the Cody-Coefficient, or the Byrum-Bump, or the Last Second Variable, but the scoring rating is often influenced by the presence or absence of a gifted kicker. As teams fail to score touchdowns in the Red Zone, they often settle for scoring field goals and the efficiency of kickers may keep the Red Zone scoring artificially inflated (or deflated), and not reflect what is actually happening. One the defensive side, there was also a need to reflect the ability of ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ defenses that regularly prevent touchdowns with impressive goal line stands.

To settle this, I’ve added a new measure – that of Red Zone touchdown percentage, calculated by the SEC champion teams since 2007. To fit the ‘ER’ rating, I’ve weighted each of these as half a point each. My logic is that both of these numbers are important, but I wanted to keep the calculations simple and straight forward. Hopefully, this should help clarify just how good a team’s offense and defense really are in a compressed field.

By the way, every kicker has a bad day. Cody Parkey did. Wes Byrum had several in 2008. Cade Foster had an exceptionally bad one under the lights of Jordan Hare and the red eyes of the television cameras, but if you look at his overall percentage, he was a money kicker for his team. Know what the statistical difference was between him, Wes and Cody? One career kick over four years. All three were in the 74-75 percentile. If Cade had made just one more kick in those four years, he would have a higher scoring percentage than either Wes or Cody.

I take that back, there WAS one other difference – the respective fan bases for each player. But as you well know there’s no accounting for taste, class or sense in that other crowd.

More after the bump. continue reading

My Top 10 Favorite Plays of 2013

By Posted on: April 4th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 7 Comments »

I decided to take one final look back at Malzahn’s first season on the plains and list my favorite moments from one of the best seasons in Auburn football’s history. These are the moments that still stick with me. 

10. Jeremy Johnson touchdown pass to Ricardo  Louis against Western Carolina. The play comes in around the 0:50 second mark and it’s a beautiful deep ball thrown by Johnson. The future is very bright at the quarterback position. 

9. Nick Marshall to Sammie Coates – SEC Championship Game.  Seeing this play develop took years off of my life and added some gray hair to my head, but the end result was a spectacular touchdown pass to Coates in double coverage. It seems especially unfair when you consider just how much success Auburn had at running the football in this game. 
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8. Goal line stand against Arkansas. Good old-fashioned American football just wasn’t enough to overcome Auburn’s defense in this sequence. Bielema, eat your heart out. Skip to the 3:00 mark to see the stand.

7. Anything Tre Mason did. Technically this may be cheating, but I can’t pick just one highlight to sum up Mason’s final season on The Plains. One of the best running backs to ever suit up, Mason’s contributions will be missed for quite some time. 

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Ratcheting up the Reps.

By Posted on: April 3rd, 2014 in Football 10 Comments »
Building Depth

The Tigers are looking to build depth this spring.
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! Spring has sprung in the southeast. The car air conditioner is back in use after a five month hiatus, yellow dust is collecting everywhere, and the pads are popping on the practice fields. We’re about midway through spring drills, and I think I can safely say that there’s a different feel to this year’s preparations. If nothing else, it’s pretty strange not to have an intense quarterback race in progress. Auburn hasn’t had an entrenched returning starter there since Brandon Cox 7 years ago.

     Last spring, Auburn was installing new systems, particularly on defense, trying to assess players, and build a two-deep. There is always a lot of teaching going on in spring drills, but last season was also about expectations and getting the players to buy in. This year, the players already know the expectations, and the coaches are able to do a lot more reps and a lot less explaining.

     It is evident that Auburn players took offseason workouts seriously. A number of players are bigger, stronger and should make more of an impact this season. Of particular note is the throwing and catching. There is a lot more chemistry between Nick Marshall and his receivers this spring than we saw last fall. During the winter, Marshall set up informal throw and catch drills several times a week, and it is paying off. The timing and accuracy are there, this spring.

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Spastic Random Thoughts

By Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 in Featured Article, Football, Memories 14 Comments »
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One of the most important plays for Auburn’s 2013 football season came against Texas A&M. (photo:Julie Bennett,al.com)

We (or at least I) interrupt our usual presentation of quality analysis and rapier wit to provide you just what the title says.  We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get going (numbered for your commenting convenience):

1.  Can anyone explain to me why ESPN and the media in general have their lips permanently implanted (notwithstanding Item 2 below) on the posterior of the Crimson Tide and Coach Saban?  How does that enhance their bottom line?

2.  We might be seeing a sea change with the above situation, after the obscene gambit that Saban, through his de facto lackey Bertie Boy, tried to pull with the 10-second rule proposal.  A lot of his cred seemed to evaporate with that move, at least amongst the coaching community (and, who knows, the media might just follow).

3.  Another question: Why were all the Tide trolls coming over here sincerely wishing us well in the aTm game?  Bama already beat Johnny Football a few weeks before; it would have behooved them and their obsession against AU for the Aggies to take us to the woodshed.  (Someone told me the answer to this is the aphorism “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  However, this analysis works only if UA hates aTm more than AU, and if that is the case, I feel thoroughly insulted to be the object of a lesser hatred.)

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Bruce Pearl Could Hit a Homerun in Basketball With a “Rifleman” Hire

By Posted on: April 1st, 2014 in Basketball, Featured Article 7 Comments »
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         Former Auburn great Chuck Person with legendary Coach Sonny Smith. (photo:Julie Bennett, al.com)

Even though Auburn is not a part of this year’s March Madness, there has been a lot of excitement about Auburn Basketball the past two weeks. The hiring of Bruce Pearl on March 18th has fired up the fan base and he hasn’t even coached his first game or signed his first recruit.

The new round ball skipper has given the Tigers positive exposure across the country during the time of year that the nation’s interest is at a peak for college basketball. In addition he has popped up all over campus; whether it’s attending the Auburn women’s WNIT game or throwing out the first pitch of the Baseball’s game against Missouri – he’s been busy selling the program.

However, creating goodwill is not all that’s on his agenda. He has to complete his staff in order to get the program rolling with recruiting and coaching up the players. With his son Steven hired as the strength coach and Tony Jones on board as an assistant, Pearl now needs to fill three more assistant positions.

You can bet he has been contacted by a bevy of applicants and there’s one name that stands out above the rest … of course we’re talking about Auburn legend, Chuck “the Rifleman” Person.

Most Auburn people know that Person has been called the Rifleman for a couple of reasons. First his mother named him for two sport professional ball player and actor Chuck Conners who starred in the 1960′s TV western “The Rifleman “. The second reason was the Rifleman shot a rapid fire riffle with pin point accuracy. Well Person is ranked 17th in the NBA for 3point shooting and is the all time leader in points scored at Auburn with 2,311 points (a record set before there was a 3 point shot). He also holds the Auburn record for most points scored (747) in a single season.

Yes the case for “The Rifleman ” is a good one. He led the Tigers to their first ever SEC Tournament Championship in 1985. In 1986 the two time All American provided the leadership that led the Tigers back to the NCAA and an Elite Eight appearance before falling to eventual National Champion Louisville. He went on to be the NBA Rookie of The Year and has spent his life working at all levels of professional basketball.

He is arguably the best player in Auburn history and he understands Auburn’s situation. He has said “Basketball is important to me at Auburn … Auburn can win at Basketball as well as football, you just need to get the right players to do it with.” He is an Auburn and NBA Legend, he knows the game, he loves Auburn, he has honed his coaching skills under legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson of the Bulls and LA Lakers, and he has been endorsed by legendary Auburn Coach Sonny Smith.

Hiring the Rifleman would make sense for both Pearl and Person.

For Pearl, the hire would be similar to what the Dameyune Craig and Rodney Garner hires meant to the football program. Like those two men, Person is a former Tiger and a proven coach with a strong knowledge of Auburn University. And like Rodney Garner, Chuck has the added incentive for recruiting players who aspire to get into the pro’s sense Person was an NBA star and a coach for 25 years.

For Chuck it would be a chance to not only return to his alma mater but provide him with an opporyunity to complete his degree (something that is seen as almost necessary for landing a college head coaching job some day himself).

He told Al.com yesterday that he has interviewed with coach Pearl. Chuck said, “I would love to be on coach Pearl’s staff, but I know there are other qualified candidates that he’s talking to. The main thing is to get Auburn basketball back to where it should be.”

This is one writer that believes that one way to get the Tigers back (to where they should be) would be to hire the man who was instrumental in getting the Tigers to the top of the sport when he played on The Plains.

Pearl will probably complete his staff in the next week, with at least one hire possibly coming by Friday. If that hire is Chuck Person … Bruce Pearl will have hit a homerun in basketball.

Saying Good Bye to the Best Grandfather Ever

By Posted on: March 31st, 2014 in News 20 Comments »

This hasn’t been the best weekend. If it’s ok with you, I’m not going to talk Auburn football. I’ll be honest with you, I hurt pretty badly.

I lost my grandfather over the weekend. He was not your ordinary, run-of-the mill grandfather either. He was one of the most incredible men I’ve ever known. I’m not good with sharing my feelings, but Lord I loved that man.

What do you say about a guy who helped raise you, was there at all the important times and most of all, loved you like a son? He taught me to ride a bike and drive a car. And more importantly, he taught me right from wrong.

Along with my father, he passed on his love of Auburn. Some of my most cherished childhood memories were of watching Auburn football games on a small black-and-white television in the meat market of the mom-and-pop grocery store that he ran for more than 30 years.

I’ve been to literally hundreds of Auburn games in-person since, but none of them have been more enjoyable than those watched in the back of that grocery store in the 1970’s. I can still see it like it was yesterday.

I’d give anything to go back there now.

He was part of the Greatest Generation. As many of you know, they don’t make’em that way anymore. He was tough (and loving) as they come and had a work ethic that few can fathom today.

He joined the Navy to fight in World War II at just 17 years-old. He was a war hero, but never told anyone. I was married with children before I found the old newspaper clipping documenting his shooting down of two Japanese aircrafts headed directly for his ship.

He returned home from the war, started his family and his grocery business. For more than a quarter of a century, he opened the doors each morning at 7 a.m. and locked them each evening at 7 p.m. He did this six days a week, allowing himself to close early only on Wednesdays and all-day on Sunday.

By my calculations, that’s 65 hours a week for all of his working life. The few precious hours away from work were not spent resting, but rather with his children and grandchildren. I never once heard him complain.

What I’ll remember most is how much he cared for people. He gave away as many groceries as he sold in that little store. He gave store credit to customers he knew would never re-pay him. He couldn’t stand to see people go without.

As he lay in his hospital bed last week, barely able to eat his lunch, he was more concerned with the young nurse taking care of him and whether or not she’d had a lunch break. He insisted that she go eat before coming back to check on him.

His funeral won’t make front page news. His obituary will be among many others in the newspaper today. But rest assured his life was not ordinary. Even with 93 long years of life, there are a lot of people hurting today, still wishing for more.

I’ve been one lucky guy.

I love you Daddy Joe.