NCAA Fought Mike Slive and Slive Won

By Posted on: July 19th, 2014 in Football, News 3 Comments »
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                                                                                                                                  (photo:AP,Butch Dill)
In his opening remarks at SEC Media Days, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive stared down the NCAA in a game of chicken and the NCAA blinked. Speaking at the opening of the media event, Slive reiterated the Big 5 Power Conferences’ threat to break a way from the NCAA and start a new collegiate governing body if the NCAA did not grant their wishes.

The NCAA steering committee was scheduled to meet August 7, to consider the Five’s request for authority to govern themselves. However, the NCAA Board was apparently listening when Slive said, “I think when push comes to shove, it will pass;” because after his latest “push,” the NCAA announced Friday a restructuring plan that would essentially give the big boys what they want – autonomy.

The Steering Committee will still meet on Aug. 7 to vote on it but the restructuring plan assures its passing is a forgone conclusion. The move will give the Big Five (SEC, Big 10, PAC 12, ACC, Big12) more power to run their own affairs without much of a threat of being voted down by the rest of the membership.

Had the other (smaller) Division I schools not overrode their proposal of a $2,000 player stipend three years ago, this may have never happened. Now the new super majority will be able to implement their wishes with near impunity.

The immediate impact of all this will be that “cost of full attendance” scholarships (paying players) will go in to effect before the 2015 football season and possibly within the next six months. In addition we can look for changes in the transfer rules, increasing the number of scholarships, revising of recruiting rules, as well as any number of concerns of the Big Five.

To be sure it was political hard ball, by Slive and his fellow commissioners, and it paid off. If the conferences had not gotten their way, it may have ultimately meant the demise of the parent organization altogether.

Nick Marshall Receiving More Pre-Season Recognition

By Posted on: July 18th, 2014 in Football, News 1 Comment »
Nick Marshall has been on the cover of several pre-season football magazines.

Nick Marshall has been on the cover of several pre-season football magazines.

Despite his recent troubles, Nick Marshall continues to have his name selected for various pre-season honors. It was announced today that Nick has been placed on the list for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.

A frequent mention in Heisman discussions, he was named a pre-season First Team All-SEC quarterback and picked as the SEC Player of the Year at SEC Media Days.

This past week he landed on the Maxwell Award list which goes to college football’s top player as well as the Davey O’Brien Award which recognizes the nation’s best quarterback.

Last year the Auburn senior became the fourth quarterback in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He threw for 1,976 yards, combining for 26 touchdowns while leading his team to an SEC Championship and berth in the National Championship game.

There still remains a question of whether he will miss any playing time due to Gus Malzahn’s statement to the media that Marshall will have to face consequences for his misdemeanor citation in Reynolds, Ga.

The winner of the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award will be announced on Dec. 11. at the Home Depot College Awards ceremony.

A Rebel Road Trip.

By Posted on: July 18th, 2014 in Football 5 Comments »
Ole Miss Preview

Can the Tigers overpower the Ole Miss front again?
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s time now for another Auburn opponent preview. On November 1st, the Tigers head to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. After a couple of winning seasons under third year head coach Hugh Freeze, many Rebel fans are expecting to take the next step, and compete for a division title this year. Back to back top ten recruiting classes fuel this optimism, but Ole Miss plays in the SEC Western Division, and will have to run a gauntlet that includes 3 teams that have been to the BCS Championship game in the past 5 years.

     If the Rebels are to win 10 games or more this season, the schedule will be a big reason. The Rebels draw Vanderbilt and Tennessee from the East, arguably the two worst teams in that division this year. The Rebel season opens in Atlanta on a late August Thursday night, against Boise State. This could be a dangerous game, as Georgia found out in a loss 3 years ago. The Rebels then travel to Vanderbilt, then host Louisiana Lafayette before a bye week. After the bye, it’s Memphis for a tune-up, then a five week grind. The Rebels have Alabama at home, Texas A&M on the road, Tennessee at home, LSU on the road, then Auburn at home. Auburn gets the Rebs at a good time, after 5 straight SEC games. 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 a bye week, then South Carolina at home before traveling to Oxford.

     The Rebel offense looks to become more consistent in 2014, with one of the few returning starting quarterbacks in the league in Bo Wallace. Wallace captained one of the more prolific offenses in Ole Miss history last season, but there were dry spells at bad times. The Rebels lose leading receivers Donte Moncrief and Ja-Mes Logan, as well as the dangerous runner Jeff Scott. More concerning is shuffling and youth on the offensive line. The Rebels have recruited talent on the line, it’s just a matter of getting this unit to gel. A low-scoring 15-12 spring game seems to indicate that there were still issues at the end of the spring game. Wallace will have some speed and talent around him, including returning receiver Laquon Treadwell and the top two rushers I’Tavius Mathers and Jalen Walton.

     The Ole Miss defense was decent in 2013, and figures to be better in 2014, as they lose only linebacker Mike Marry and corner Charles Sawyer in terms of significant players. The Rebels have a deep secondary that picked off 13 balls last season, while allowing only 10 touchdown passes. Where the Rebels had difficulty was with the pass rush. Last year, the Rebels tallied only 20 sacks in 13 games. By comparison, Auburn had 32. The Rebels hope to shore up the outside rush with incoming signees Fadol Brown and Marquise Haynes.

     Like Auburn, Ole Miss loses both kickers, and will have to reload this season. The Rebels were respectable in coverage last year, but generated very little in the return game. Jeff Scott was the primary punt returner last season, and the Rebels have no one returning with any significant experience. The Rebels have some work to do in the coming months on special teams.

Unit matchups, after the jump!

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Auburn Places Most Players on Preseason All-SEC Team

By Posted on: July 17th, 2014 in Football, News 7 Comments »
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            Gabe Wright was named 1st Team pre-season All-SEC by the media. (photo:Auburn media file)

The SEC Media Days pre-season All-SEC Team was announced Thursday morning, along with the predicted order of finish in the conference.

Auburn had the most players (13) making the list including four on the First Team; yet was picked by the media to finish second in the conference. However, the Tigers proved last year they only need ‘one’ second to change the predicted outcome. Here’s the media’s picks:

2014 PRESEASON MEDIA DAYS ALL-SEC TEAM

OFFENSE:
First-Team
QB Nick Marshall, Auburn (241)
RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (281)
RB Todd Gurley, Georgia (280)
WR Amari Cooper, Alabama (282)
WR Sammie Coates, Auburn (207)
TE O.J. Howard, Alabama (188)
OL La’el Collins, LSU (231)
OL Arie Kouandjio, Alabama (188)
OL Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (183)
OL Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (174)
C Reese Dismukes, Auburn (226)

Second-Team
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (118)
RB Mike Davis, South Carolina (240)
RB Alex Collins, Arkansas (126)
WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (182)
WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (71)
TE C.J. Uzomah, Auburn (141)
OL A.J. Cann, South Carolina (166)
OL Vadal Alexander, LSU (112)
OL Alex Kozan, Auburn (112)
OL Corey Robinson, South Carolina (107)
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama (126)

See who else made the list, after the jump:
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2014 – A Historic Year for SEC and College Football?

By Posted on: July 16th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football, News 9 Comments »
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                                                                                                                      (photo:Mark Gentry,USAToday)
If you didn’t get a chance to see SEC Commissioner Mike Slive’s opening remarks at SEC Media Days, you missed what is probably the most important news that will come out of the Hoover meetings this year. Commissioner Slive said 2014 was going to be “a historic year” for the conference.

He wasn’t talking about more success on the courts or on the gridiron. For sure he spent some time going over the usual litany of success stories the conference has enjoyed in recent years. But it was Slive’s harden stance on autonomy for the so called Power Five Conferences that was the significant news.

The Commissioner reiterated the position he took in the league’s June meetings that if the NCAA fails to grant the Big Five their wishes, he and his fellow commissioners are prepared to secede and start a new collegiate governing body.

In an apparent reference to the Ed O’Bannin case and the Northwestern NLRB decision, Slive said, “We are not deaf to the din of discontent across collegiate athletics that has dominated the news.” He said the NCAA “must be willing to make appropriate changes.” Translation – give the Power Five conferences autonomy to make their own rules (The Power Five includes the SEC, Big 10, Pac 12, Big 12, and the ACC).

What is significant is Slive’s apparent confidence that the NCAA’s steering committee will pass the recommendation when it votes on the demands-request in August. The Commissioner said:

“If we do not achieve a positive outcome under the existing big tent of Division I, we will need to consider the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes in the best interests of our student‑athletes.” He added, “I think when push comes to shove, it will pass.”

Mike Slive is widely recognized as the most influential commissioner in college athletics and when he talks (just like the old EF Hutton commercials) people listen. So it’s almost a certainty that there will be a new separate division for the Power Five. And that’s why 2014 will be a historic year in collegiate athletics.

Once that takes place it will open the door for everything those conferences may wish to pass  – full cost of attendance scholarships (which is a synonym for paying athletes) transfer rules, increasing the number of scholarships and a host of other things. In reality there will not be anything the five can’t consider when it comes to reforming the rules they presently operate under. It will be historic alright.

Maybe this is what it will take to get the kind of reform so long needed with the bureaucracy of the NCAA. Yet there are those that have complained in recent years about the disparity between the have’s and the have not’s of college football. Such a move, in the short run, may well widen that gap. However, The restructuring could also be the first step in reforming all of the NCAA from top to bottom.

And if that happens, it could in the long run, be the best thing for college athletics since Walter Camp revised the rules of the game in the early 1880s.

C.J. Uzomah – “We’ll Get Back on Track”

By Posted on: July 15th, 2014 in Featured Article, Football 7 Comments »
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                                                                                                                                      (photo:USAToday file)
Gus Malzahn had to face the media Monday after what had to be  a very distressing two weeks, starting with the death of former player Phillip Lutzenkirchen and ending with Friday’s disappointing actions of his starting quarterback. Despite those problems, anyone watching him at SEC Media Days could see he showed the same steely eyed determination that has made his persona famous among the fans.

Malzahn quickly stated yesterday that Nick Marshall will have to pay for his mistake. Although he didn’t volunteer any specifics on what the punishment might entail, it was comforting to hear that a contrite Marshall had stood before the team Sunday night and apologized for letting them down.

His teammates in return have rallied around the senior signal caller. Tight End C.J. Uzomah who replaced Marshall in Hoover fielded a question about the team’s feelings on Marshall:

“As a team we were extremely disappointed, but at the same time we know that he’s going to learn from this mistake … Our trust in him hasn’t faltered at all, and our faith in him is as strong as it’s been. He made a mistake, and Coach Malzahn addressed it, and we’ll get back on track.”

Yet there is still the question of whether Marshall could receive suspension from playing time? That’s a possibility that could easily be read into Malzahn’s remarks to the media, “From our standpoint, we have high expectations. Our quarterbacks are the face of our program.” Gus went on to say, “The good news is we have a guy in Jeremy Johnson that could start for most teams around the country.”

Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean Marshall will be sat down for a game or two. But it may mean that he’ll have to compete all over again with Johnson to get his starting position back. That in itself could be humbling for a guy who has been touted in the off season as a possible Heisman candidate.

Events like what the 2014 Tigers have already had to go through can serve to splinter or bring a cohesiveness to a football team. That intangible quality of team chemistry is a hard enough quality to achieve without having to overcome obstacles like this weekend. The good thing though is there is a lot of senior leadership on this team. Marshall has their support.

Hopefully he will do his penitence and gain back the trust of his coaches as well.  And the Tigers will get back on track toward the goal of successfully defending their SEC Championship.

Sammie Coates Nominated for Biletnikoff Award

By Posted on: July 15th, 2014 in Football, News Comment »
(photo:Anthony Hall,AUTigers.com)

(photo:Anthony Hall,AuburnTigers.com)

The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation announced today that Auburn Wide Receiver Sammie Coates has been named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.

Coates was the Tigers’ No. 1 receiver last year, catching 42 passes for 902 yards and seven touchdowns; a number good enough to finish third in the country at nearly 22 yards per catch. And he is also on the watch list (along with Nick Marshall) for the Maxwell Award, an honor which goes to the nation’s top player. 

With an emphasis this year on the passing game, Sammie may just wind up a finalist for the Biletnikoff. The winner of this year’s award will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards show on Dec. 11, 2014. Good luck to the Tigers’ top receiver!

Dismukes Continues to be Honored With Pre-Season Award Watch List

By Posted on: July 15th, 2014 in Football, News Comment »
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                                                                                                     (photo:Tood Van Ernst,Auburn media))
Reese Dismukes was selected by the Rotary Lombardi Award Committee for their pre-season watch list on Monday. It was the third pre-season list the Auburn Center has been named to this year. The award recognizes the nation’s top college down lineman on offense or defense.

Reese has also made the Watch List for the Rimington Trophy. A finalist last year, it is the third consecutive year for Reese to be selected as one of the college football’s best centers.

Last Thursday he was joined by Guard Alex Kozan and Defensive Tackle Gabe Wright on the Outland Trophy Watch List. The Outland goes to the nation’s top interior lineman.

Dismukes anchored a line last season that paved the way for Auburn to have the number one rushing offense in the country. It was an All-SEC year for Reese who graded out above 90 percent and had 124 knockdown blocks. So 2014 expectations are naturally high for the Auburn senior.

Congratulations Reese and War Eagle!