These Tigers Did Us Proud!
(Photo by Acid Reign.)
War Eagle, everybody! College football post season moves are being made hourly this week, it seems. Upon further review, I could not be prouder of this Auburn football team and supporters, even if a national title had been won. Despite the loss in the BCS title game, A huge Auburn crowd welcomed the team home in the coldest weather in 20 years. Toomer’s Corner was rolled anyway, and Auburn fans rightfully celebrated the great accomplishments of this special football team. Like the 1989 team that suffered a couple of painful losses, but beat Alabama in Jordan Hare for the first time ever and won a share of the SEC Title for the third year in a row, this team will be remembered fondly for a long time.
Normally this is the time of year where I immediately jump on the roster, strike off the seniors and NFL-bound juniors, and start looking forward to next fall. I can’t quite do that yet, this week. Auburn’s most incredible player, Tre Mason has yet to make a decision on his future, so I’ll wait. I trust that Tre and his family will get good, sound advice, and that he’ll make the best decision for his future. I’d love to see him back in the orange and blue next fall, but my best guess is that his wisest decision is to go ahead and get that NFL money. Auburn is loaded at the running back position, and there are no guarantees next fall. One bum leg injury could knock Tre out of the draft.
Monday was interesting in that Auburn’s offensive line got a taste of what an NFL line might be like, when they played Florida State. There was an amazing battle going on, one that attracted my attention so much that I had a hard time calling the whole game. Both of Auburn’s NFL prospects at the end of this year, Greg Robinson and Reese Dismukes got a good workout. Reese is staying another year, and Greg is headed to the big league. I can’t fault either guy’s decision. Robinson will be paid big money, and there’s a demand for drive blockers with his kind of power. I would not be surprised to see him end up at guard for a team like San Francisco or Seattle, powering a good rushing attack.
Reese Dismukes is electing to return to Auburn, and I think another year under J. B. Grimes will only pay more dividends. Dismukes is already one of the best centers in college football. Another year of fine-tuning could lead to an epic NFL career. His return to Auburn is a huge boost to the team, and the offense.
Nationally, there’s big news happening. Charlie Strong was hired as the new Texas Longhorn head coach, and trustees and boosters are already publicly grumbling. That can’t be good for the program. Strong’s been a big winner everywhere he’s been, and I personally can’t see the angst. Is it a racial thing? If so, that’s pretty danged sad, in this day and age. Strong is one of the top guys in the game, and a good man. He’ll win big at Texas, if he’s not knee-capped by division in the ranks.
Of note to Auburn fans of the past decade, former Tiger offensive coordinator Al Borges was shown the door as the Michigan offensive coordinator. Borges was a favorite here at Auburn, and condolences go out. Maybe it a sign of the times, but I just don’t see firing a coordinator who averaged 32.2 points per game this season. Maybe I’m old, but 30 points a game sounds pretty good to me. Auburn won the SEC and went 13-0 in 2004 with a 32 point a game offense. Maybe Michigan oughtta be looking a bit closer at their defense.
Johnny “Football” Manziel has announced that he’s taking his high-wire act to the NFL, which surprised no one. In my opinion, he was the best player in college football this past season, and was penalized in the Heisman voting because he played on a team with an awful defense. He’s facing a questionable NFL future, as scouts aren’t keen on his size or off the field antics. For what its worth, Manziel has shown signs of maturity this season. We haven’t seen him acting out after frustrating losses, and he’s carried himself with class during post-season ceremonies the past month. Best wishes to Johnny Football going forward. We’ll not miss playing him, but I will miss watching his on-field heroics against other SEC foes.
Other early NFL departures across the country include running back George Atkinson of Notre Dame, Missouri running back Henry Josey, and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard. I understand Josey’s decision most, as he’s a back with a knee injury history, and is at the top of his game right now. Hubbard will probably find a roster spot, as the NFL does chew through linebackers. Atkinson is going out due to decreased playing time and a suspension, and may have a tough time making a roster, much less being drafted.
The most inexplicable news this week is that apparently, Louisville is close to re-hiring Bobby Petrino for a second stint as their head football coach. After watching Louisville A. D. Tom Jurich absolutely lambast Auburn’s administration on integrity issues ten years ago during “Jetgate,” I am stunned. This guy questioned Auburn’s integrity, and is going to hire Petrino back? Yes, Petrino will inherit a loaded roster, and he’ll win big early on in the American Athletic Conference. But this guy has baggage, big-time. He left Louisville in a bind back in 2006, to struggle through the Kragthorpe years. His motorcycle mistress issues at Arkansas are well chronicled, as are the shocking ethics violations there in her hiring. Have the Cardinals no shame? I’d also point out that Petrino is not known for his recruiting. He had success at both Louisville and Arkansas with rosters stocked by previous coaches, and left the cupboard pretty bare at both places. Ask Bret Bielema, who suffered through an 0-8 season at Arkansas this past year.
And finally, on a sad note, it appears that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s legal troubles are not over. His accuser is filing a civil suit over the case. The comments in that CBS link are pretty heated, and disturbing. I’ve got very mixed feelings over this case, and rape allegations are notoriously hard to prove. What’s certain is that the whole thing is going to be an ongoing distraction for the Florida State program, and their players and fans. As always, my hope is that justice is done, whatever that may be. I certainly won’t claim to be smart enough to figure guilt or innocence based on the press releases at hand.