Auburn News and Notes: 7/25/17 Edition
Gus Malzahn lost a colleague and friend in the coaching business this week (photo: Auburn Media file)
“You know, I mean, Hugh is one of my good friends in this business. He’s one of the good guys in college football.” Those words, in one form or fashion, have been said many times by Gus Malzahn about Hugh Freeze. We may never know the extent of Freeze’s indiscretions, and it may not be fair to judge a man based upon a single one-minute phone call. What we do know is that what we all thought of Freeze and the Ole Miss program circa signing day 2013.
Auburn has landed some terrific signing classes, but the class that the Rebels landed in 2013 was astounding in any frame of reference, whether compared to Alabama or to the history of a floundering Ole Miss program. From the very beginning, it seemed that something wasn’t right in The Grove, and that feeling was exacerbated with two straight wins over Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. All the bits of evidence, taken separately, could be dismissed. All together, it painted a picture of possible corruption.
Hugh Freeze could have fooled just about everyone, especially rabid fans of the program. However, you can’t tell me that he could fool his athletic director. It’s just as hard for me to know what to make of a “good friend” of his to be that fooled. The question is, were Freeze and Malzhan just not as close as they let on, was Malzahn covering for his close friend, or was Gus duped?
Basketball star Austin Wiley suffered a stress fracture in his left leg during a quarterfinal game against Germany. As most know, Team USA took home the bronze. Wiley was playing fantastic basketball, averaging a double-double during the tournament. He was the only American to do so, despite averaging under 20 minutes per contest. The rising sophomore will not play when Auburn takes a trip to Italy, and the injury will set him back four to six weeks.
It is slightly disconcerting to see this injury because big men of Wiley’s size sometimes suffer from chronic leg and knee injuries. Wiley will not need surgery, but it is imperative that he make the most of his rest time for Auburn basketball is just 100-odd days away. It surely seems that Auburn and Coach Bruce Pearl are on the precipice of greatness this coming season. To do that, Wiley and Chuma Okeke must get healthy. (Okeke went home early with a knee injury.)
The Team USA Women’s Fastpitch Team took on the Alabama All-Stars in Auburn in a fantastic exhibition that didn’t get nearly the publicity it deserved. Saturday night, Auburn legend Kasey Cooper made her final plate appearance at Jane B. Moore Field, and it went just like fans of Coop expected: another long ball.
Team USA steamrolled the Alabama Stars, but the score isn’t nearly the important part of the story.
“I’ve always wanted to play for Team USA, but to play against them was even better,” stated Crocker. “It was fun playing against Kasey; we had our little chat at second base, so that was fun.”
All four of Auburn’s players made contributions in the field and, most importantly, all three hitters managed to record hits. Veach led the way by going 2-for-2, including a double. After being an afterthought, she was a surprise for softball fans as she was called upon to replace Tannon Snow at first base at the beginning of the season. Though she had some mistakes at first base, she was terrific at the plate. And, the surprise of the year may have come Saturday night as Veach found her way behind the plate.
As many know, standout catcher Carlee “Clutch” Wallace made a surprising move to transfer to Baylor after the season. Behind her would be Courtney Shea, who was a part-time starter at catcher and full-time designated hitter.
Is Veach’s start at catcher a sign of things to come? Certainly current head coach Clint Myers could have the ears of Alabama All-Stars’ coaches and former Auburn standouts, Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson and Holly Currie. Could this have been planned? What would that mean?
Myers has been adamant that both Tannon and freshman sibling Taylon Snow (the number-one recruit in the country) would be on campus for the 2018 season. Tannon’s returning to first would free up Veach. With the number of games played, it makes sense to have a second catcher, especially considering that either she or Shea are good enough hitters to make the lineup every game.
Until next time …