Former Tiger Tim Puetz Plays Today in Second Round at Wimbledon – (Updated: Puetz impressive in loss)

By Posted on: June 25th, 2014 in Featured Article, Other Sports 3 Comments »
day-one-championships-wimbledon-2014-20140623-172642-237 - Tim Puetz by jim kruger

                              Tim Puetz won his debut match at Wimbledon. (photo:Jim Kruger,yahoo)
In four seasons at Auburn, star tennis player, Tim Puetz was named All-SEC four times averaging at least 18 wins per season including racking up an incredible .857 winning percentage during his senior year.

Now that Puetz is a tennis pro, it comes as no surprise to Tiger fans to see him qualify for the biggest tennis event in the world – The 2014 Wimbledon.

Tim not only qualified for the Wimbledon but he advanced to the second round of the championships with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili on the grass of Wimbledon. He went into the competition ranked at 251 in the world and has become the talk of the tournament.

6283677 - Tim PuetzTo even qualify, he had to win all three of his qualifying matches in singles. He not only did that but won the last match by posting a straight-set victory over Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (3), 7-6 (16), 6-1.

When Puetz was in school there were glimpses of potential greatness. He was named All-American both his junior and senior years after playing in the NCAA National Singles Semifinals in 2010 and making it to the National Doubles Semifinals in 2009 along with his teammate Alexey Tsyrenov.

Although Tim dropped the first set to Gabashvili to start Monday’s match he battled back in his debut with a dominant serve recording 19 aces in his first-round win. He was a perfect 11-for-11 on points won at the net to mark his first career win at a Grand Slam event.

Bq5s_4tIUAARouu.jpg large - AU flag at World CupWith the victory Tim advanced to today’s second round at the 2014 Wimbledon. He will be facing the 16th tournament seed in Italy’s Fabio Fognini.

Yesterday, pictures made the rounds on the internet of an Auburn flag in the crowd at the World Cup testifying to how the sun never sets on the Auburn Family.

While I don’t know how many Auburn fans may be in attendance at the All-England Club in London today … I’m sure there will be many Auburn flags raised across the globe as we pull for one of our Tigers.

Good luck Tim and War Eagle!

UPDATE:
Even though Tim lost a thrilling second round match today, he did himself proud as he gave the No. 15 ranked player in the world all he could handle winning the first set 6-2. and forcing Fognini to a tie in the third before the Italian finally prevailed 8-6.

Tim traded breaks early in the fourth set before Fognini pulled ahead to make it 3-1, and even then he had to fight off a determined Puetz to complete the win. Tim was very impressive in his first appearance on the grass of the All-England Club and should be a regular in future Wimbledons

Judge in Ed O’Bannon Case Appears to be Leaning Toward Decision to Radically Change College Sports

By Posted on: June 24th, 2014 in Basketball, Featured Article, Football, News 5 Comments »
Former UCLA Player Ed O'Bannon brought suit against NCAA in 2009. (photo:Isaac Brekken/AP)

Former UCLA Player Ed O’Bannon brought suit against NCAA in 2009. (photo:Isaac Brekken/AP)

In July, 2009 former UCLA All-American Basketball Player Ed O’Bannon filed a suit against the NCAA to allow players to sell the rights to their names, images and likenesses for use on television broadcasts and in video games.

The problem with that:

The NCAA has always viewed college athletes as amateurs. The official line from the NCAA states that, “All student-athletes are required to adhere to NCAA amateurism requirements to remain eligible for intercollegiate competition.”

The amateurism rule includes restrictions against student athletes signing professional contracts with professional teams, receiving money above actual and necessary expenses, receiving a salary for participating in athletics, or receiving benefits from a prospective agent. All of which may be in jeopardy should the plaintiffs succeed.

The three week case is set to end this week.

Those that have not closely followed the trial may be surprised that the outcome will not be decided by a jury but by a single judge (named Claudia Wilken). I’m not sure that a jury trial would be more fair to either side but one thing is troubling. The future of college athletics will be decided by a person who knows little about college athletics.

Judge Wilken may be an excellent antitrust judge but she has demonstrated a lack of knowledge during the proceedings about the basic structure of college football. Last week she was surprised to discover that the bowl games are run by bowl committees and in yesterday’s proceedings she asked a witness what he was talking about when he referred to the BCS, the FBS, and the CFP (College Football Playoff).

Early in the trial she instructed the NCAA lawyers that “amateurism” was a word she didn’t feel had any bearing on the case. Yet that goes to the very heart of the NCAA’s position which states that, “In the collegiate model of sports, the young men and women competing on the field or court are students first, athletes second.”

To anyone who has followed the proceedings, it’s easy to see that Judge Wilken is leaning toward the plaintiffs’ side. For one thing, she has already publicly stated she has a problem with the NCAA’s no-pay rule.

If she issues an injunction against the NCAA and it is upheld on appeal, the new model of college sports will be radically different from what it has looked like for the past 108 years.

While some may view that possibility as a victory, the ramifications could signal a defeat for non revenue producing sports. In addition such a decision will put college sports in the marketplace bringing with it salaries, player unions, and possible labor disputes.

The judge will hear final arguments Friday and take a few weeks to issue her decision. While it is impossible to predict how Judge Wilken will rule, after two weeks of hearing the case, it doesn’t look good for the NCAA.

Do you feel a decision in favor of the O'Bannon law suit would be good for college athletics?

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Will You Be Able to See the SEC Network?

By Posted on: June 23rd, 2014 in Football 9 Comments »
sec network

Yesterday I found myself starring semi-comatose at the Belgium-Russia World Cup Soccer match. This is what happens to college football fans in the summer. You sit in front of the television for six hours watching a sport you don’t understand and then walk away speaking with a British accent.

The good news is that Auburn kicks-off 10 Saturdays from now. I couldn’t believe it when I counted. It was like finding a $20 bill in the pocket of a dirty pair of jeans. Football season is actually getting close.

Speaking of television, it’s never too early to look at the television schedule for Week One in the SEC. The million dollar question is whether your cable or satellite provider will be carrying the SEC Network. More on that in a minute.

Here’s how Week One shakes out for SEC Fans…

Thursday, August 28th

Texas A&M at South Carolina, 5:00 PM CT, SEC Network

Ole Miss vs. Boise State (Atlanta), 7:00 PM CT, ESPN

Temple at Vanderbilt, 8:15 PM ET, 9:15 PM CT, SEC Network

Saturday, August 30th

UT Martin at Kentucky, 11:00 PM CT, SEC Network

South Dakota State at Missouri, 2:30 PM CT, ESPNU

Alabama vs. West Virginia (Atlanta), 2:30 PM CT, ABC

Arkansas at Auburn, 3:00 PM CT, SEC Network

Clemson at Georgia, 4:30 PM CT, ESPN

Idaho at Florida, 6:00 PM CT, ESPNU

Southern Miss at Mississippi State, 6:30 PM CT, SEC Network

LSU vs. Wisconsin (Houston), 8:00 PM CT, ESPN

Sunday, August 31st

Utah State at Tennessee, 6:00 PM CT, SEC Network

With the new conference network showing six games on opening weekend, you are pretty much out of luck if you can’t get the channel. As of now, only Dish Network and AT&T U-Verse have committed to carry it on a national basis. Many smaller cable companies have already joined.

If you are not sure about your area, there’s a website, getsecnetwork.com where you can check availability in your town. The site is pretty aggressive, allowing fans to send emails to their providers requesting the network. It’s even offering up a signed letter from the SEC coach of your choice if you fill out the form.

I’m a DirecTV subscriber. I love the service, but I’ve given them until the second week of August before I switch to Dish Network. These satellite companies are notorious for waiting until the last hour to strike a deal with networks. That will probably be too late for most Southerners.

I hope DirecTV, Comcast and some of these larger cable companies understand the passion of SEC football. They stand to lose substantial money from viewers in the Southern states. Trying to wait the SEC out will not work in this case. Fans will just switch.

I hope they are listening.

Nostalgia Friday: 1994 Auburn vs. Florida

By Posted on: June 20th, 2014 in Football 4 Comments »

The 1994 edition of Auburn vs. Florida will go down as one of the most exciting wins of the decade. Terry Bowden’s Tigers came to Gainesville riding a 16-game winning streak and most everyone expected it to come to an end against the top-ranked Gators.

Led by quarterback Patrick Nix, Auburn came into the game a whopping 17-point underdog to Steve Spurrier. However, the sixth-ranked Tigers kept pace with Florida all day. Spurrier would eventually replace quarterback Terry Dean with future Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, but a key interception by Brian Robinson with 1:20 left in the game opened the door for Auburn.

Patrick Nix quickly drove the Tigers down the field, capping it off with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Frank Sanders in the closing seconds to give Auburn an improbable 36-33 win.

The Tigers would go on to finish the year with a 9-1-1 record and a number nine national ranking. Because of probation, Auburn was ineligible for bowl play.  

West Title on the Line Against LSU.

By Posted on: June 19th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 8 Comments »
LSU Preview

Can Auburn take LSU at home?
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s time now for another Auburn opponent preview. On October 4th, Auburn resumes its SEC West Schedule in earnest, taking on the LSU Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium. I’d look for this game to either be the CBS afternoon headliner, or a primetime game on ESPN. Both teams will likely be undefeated coming into this matchup, and the loser will be on the outside looking in.

     LSU begins the season playing the Wisconsin Badgers in Houston, which may be a tough matchup. Thereafter, LSU plays a quartet of games in Baton Rouge, before heading to Auburn. The home slate includes Sam Houston State, UL Monroe, Mississippi State, and New Mexico State. Some would point to MSU as a tough opponent. I’d point out that the Bulldogs haven’t beaten LSU since 1999, in Jackie Sherrill’s prime. MSU hasn’t won in Baton Rouge since 1991. Auburn will have played Arkansas and San Jose State at home, Kansas State on the road, and Louisiana Tech for homecoming, prior to this matchup.

     On paper, LSU again appears physically ready to challenge for the SEC West title, behind a strong defense. Tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson as well as linebackers Lamin Barrow and Tajh Jones are gone, but there was replacement depth available. The secondary took a hit when cornerback Jalen Mills was arrested, but he’ll likely be back by the Auburn game, as the arrest details get fuzzier and fuzzier by the week. LSU ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter are particular terrors, and Auburn must find a way to block these two if the offense is to be effective. Last year in Baton Rouge, Auburn tackle Greg Robinson got control in the second half, but he’s gone to the NFL.

     On offense, LSU was riddled by graduation and early NFL departures, but there’s a wealth of talent still returning. The biggest question on offense will be the quarterback position, where sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris are still battling it out. Last season, new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron rejuvenated the LSU offense, and the team averaged 35.8 points per game. However, midseason offensive swoons delivered losses against both Ole Miss and Alabama. In addition to replacing starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, LSU also loses starting running backs Jeremy Hill and J. C. Copeland, receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, and guard Trai Turner. Four returning starters on the offensive line will help, but there’s a lot of youth that will have to develop in September.

     LSU special teams should be ok with the return of kicker Colby Delahoussaye and punter Jamie Keehn, and good punt coverage. LSU was a little suspect on kick coverage last season, and they must replace return specialist Odell Beckham Jr.

Unit matchups, after the jump!

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Auburn Has More Than 5 Potential Starters on the O-Line (which is) “A Good Problem to Have”

By Posted on: June 18th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 3 Comments »
13574597-mmmain Auburn O-Line, julie bennett

                                                                                                                         (photo:Julie Bennett, al.com)
A football team is only as good as it’s offensive line. The big uglies don’t get as much attention as the skill players, but every play begins with them. At Auburn the O-Line was the reason the Tigers were good enough to win the SEC Championship and play for a national championship in 2013.

It’s been proven that the more a line gains experience and works together – the more likely a team’s success will be. Last year, only eight teams began the season with O-Lines that had more than 100 career starts. With five starters returning, Auburn will surpass that figure in 2014. Those five players have a combined 113 starts.

They are a big part of the reason Auburn was the number one rushing team in the nation last year and was 12th in scoring offense. Auburn set a new SEC Championship Game offensive record when the Tigers blistered Mizzou (and the SEC’s No.2 rushing defense) gashing the Black and Gold Tigers for big gains almost at will, finishing the night at 677 total yards with 545 coming on the ground.

Despite losing Greg Robinson to the NFL draft, the 2014 Tiger Line may have a chance to be as good or better than that unit. Robinson was definitely one of the best left tackles to ever play at Auburn and the First Round Draft pick leaves big shoes to fill.

Nevertheless there are several that could take his place. Most likely the spot will be filled by either Patrick Miller who has 14 career starts or cancer survivor Shon Coleman.

Returning sophomore and Freshman All-American Alex Kozan who also has 14 starts will hold down the left guard position.

On the right side Chad Slade who has started 36 games as a Tiger will return at guard. Avery Young (12 starts) appears to be entrenched at right tackle after taking over the position after game five last year. However, Young has the versatility to play right guard which gives the Tigers increased depth on that side of the ball.

Then there is the leader of the line, senior All-American Center Reese Dismukes. If everything about the offensive attack begins with the line, the anchor and genesis of that attack begins with the center.

And the Tigers could not have a better one than the All-American Dismukes who has 37 career starts and once again is on the Rimington Trophy Watch List. You can bet Dismukes will make sure this unit keeps it together in the Tigers’ quest to make it back to the big game.

In addition to these five veterans, the Tigers will have nine very talented back-ups. In fact, Offensive Line Coach, J.B. Grimes said yesterday that the Tigers have, “A number of guys that have the ability to start and

That’s a good problem to have.”

He Was an Auburn and SEC Legend

By Posted on: June 17th, 2014 in Basketball 2 Comments »
Auburn photo file.

(Auburn photo file)

Although he made his home in the Birmingham area, he grew up in Atlanta playing high school ball for Sylvan Hills High. After leading the Bears to two state championships he went on to become an SEC Legend at Auburn University.

It was hard to believe the news that he had passed away last Tuesday. It hadn’t seemed all that long since I talked with him in February at the Tiger Trail reception in the Auburn Arena. Always approachable, Lee DeFore was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet.

One of his former team mates Bill Alexander said he remembered him as a man of “Absolutely impeccable character.” A true Auburn man, Alexander continued, “And we could see his basketball skills from a statistical perspective. They speak for themselves.”

And speak they did. Lee was the first Auburn Basketball player to ever score 1,000 points. He was a three time All-SEC player and was named All-American in 1966.

One of the best shooters to ever come through Auburn, he scored over 30 points seven different times. The Team Captain led the Tigers in scoring all three years and led the conference his last year.

He set nine school records, averaged 24 points per game in 1966-67 and finished 11th in the nation in free throw percentage (.853). When he left Auburn for the New York Knicks, he did so as the Tigers’ all-time scoring leader.

Even after more than 40 years, he still ranks 5th on Auburn’s all-time scoring average with 19.0 points and 16th in all-time scoring with 1,386 points.

In 2006 he was named to Auburn’s All Century Team and was featured at the Southeastern Conference Basketball Tournament that same year as an SEC Legend.

Lee had been an active Alumni member and was at one time the president of the Auburn Letterman’s Club. His passing is a big loss for the Auburn Family – and even bigger one for his immediate family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.

Las Vegas Jumps on the Auburn Bandwagon

By Posted on: June 16th, 2014 in Football 4 Comments »
golden nugget

While it’s great that Auburn is getting a lot of preseason love from the media, remember these are the same people who said the Tigers would be lucky to grab six wins a year ago. Now Las Vegas is getting in on the act.

The Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas has released early lines on some key Auburn games this season and what they’ve posted may surprise you. Not only is Auburn favored in every contest leading up to Amen Corner, they are convincing favorites, set as at least a touchdown favorite in every contest leading up to Georgia.

The opening game with Arkansas has Gus Malzahn’s team a whopping 24 point favorite. That’s huge for any opening season opponent.

Most surprising is the Thursday night trip to Manhattan, Kansas where Auburn is an early 13 point favorite.

I don’t know about you, but this game already has me worried. K-State won six of its final seven games and Bill Snyder is one of the greatest coaches in college football history. If you are looking for a place to worry, circle this game.

Another sleeper that should concern Tiger fans is the October 11 game in Starkville. Dak Prescott at quarterback for the Bulldogs will give Ellis Johnson fits. Combine that with the job of getting a team motivated to play in Starkville and you can understand the worry. The Golden Nugget has Auburn as a 9.5 point favorite.

As for Georgia and Alabama on the road, Vegas have the Dawgs favored by one point and Alabama by six. You can read the story here.

Of course, none of this means anything. We all know that after last year. What it does mean is that expectations are sky high for Auburn football and that always worries me. They can rank the schedule however they choose, but it doesn’t take a Philadelphia lawyer to see that Auburn’s is a beast.

Playing at least six ranked teams and being the defending SEC Champs will test Malzahn in his second season.  Despite the perceived obstacles there’s something about this coaching staff unlike others in the past that gives you comfort. Maybe I’m just being a homer, but something tells me Auburn will be ready to play every week.

You can’t ask for anything more.