Bulldog Payback Week!
We’ll pound Mississippi State when the sun goes down!
War Eagle, everybody! SEC play begins Saturday, for our Auburn Tigers! This will make the tenth year in a row that Auburn opens their SEC season with Mississippi State. To find a non MSU Auburn SEC opener, one must go back to 2003 when the real season opened with Vanderbilt, with Auburn already 0-2 against Southern Cal and Georgia Tech. Those Tigers broke out against the Commodores, with a 45-7 win.
In Auburn history, the only teams Auburn has played more often than Mississippi State are Georgia and Georgia Tech. Auburn owns a 60-24-2 record against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and the 60 wins are the most Auburn wins against any opponent. However, these cowbell-clanking Bulldogs have been problematic at times in the past 25 years for the Tigers. Of Auburn’s 24 all-time losses to the Bulldogs, 8 have come in the past 25 years. Mississippi State’s biggest win over Auburn came way back in 1946, with the Bulldogs hanging a 33-0 loss on the Tigers at Birmingham’s Legion Field. Auburn’s biggest victory over Mississippi State also happened in Birmingham, in 1970, with Pat Sullivan’s team handing the Bulldogs a 56-0 loss.
After last season, I think most folks who follow Auburn practice reports tend to shudder when the head coach starts talking about “good practices this week.” We’re hearing more of the same, this week, even with a new head coach. We’d hear that last year, and lose by three or more touchdowns. Still, like moths to a flame, we’re encouraged by Gus Malzhan’s comments about practice:
“I thought we had a solid practice, a big third-down day,” Malzhan opined. “Our guys were a lot more intense today, even more than they were yesterday and I thought that was a good thing. We need to have another good one tomorrow.”
We’re still not getting a solid answer on whether Auburn defensive starters Dee Ford and Justin Garrett will play this week, but according to reports, they’ve been practicing for two weeks now. And I don’t think it would make much sense to throw them into the fire totally cold, at LSU. No, I think we’ll see both of those guys this week, at least for a bit of a tune-up.
I know Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is one of the more hated SEC rival coaches among Auburn fans, because of some suspected role in the Cam Newton hoopla back in 2010. Mullen really had nothing bad to say about the Tigers in this week’s teleconference.
What may be telling is that he spent a lot of time talking about his team’s youth. “The team, we’ve got a young group of guys. I think our last game, we only dressed five seniors on offense and defense. So I think it’s a pretty young team, and that will change as they come together. It’s still developing, that whole overall personality of the team.”
Acid’s Take on Fluker-gate, after the jump.
Unless you’ve been off the sports internet or the TV news the past 12 hours, you’ve probably heard that there’s a breaking story involving arch-rival Alabama’s D. J. Fluker taking money from an agent last year, from Yahoo.com. I’d encourage anyone who wants to pile on this thing, to read the actual post. Yahoo says that they’ve got the goods, receipts, text messages, and evidence on this deal. Is it like Danny Sheridan’s “bag man” proof? Or are they for real? You’ll notice if you read the Yahoo article, there are a lot of charges and claims, but they’ve NOT said where these receipts and the like came from. Show me the money, I sez…
IF Yahoo actually has the goods, names names, publishes the receipts, the NCAA still may do little. It has become impossible to predict what that organization will do. They absolutely hammered Penn State over a criminal situation that had nothing to do with NCAA rules violations, and let several repeat rules offenders off with a slap on the wrist this year.
If there’s any consistency left in the NCAA, what will hurt Alabama is that former Alabama football player Luther Davis is the alleged “bag man” in this one. If Yahoo can prove Davis paid D. J. Fluker last season, typical NCAA protocol will be Alabama to forfeit all of their wins for last season. As a former Tide player, Davis is defined by the rules as a “booster,” automatically.
I always want to beat Alabama badly in any sports, and tend to laugh out loud when they lose. But I’m torn on the justice of a possible NCAA hammer-down on this. Thus far, no evidence has come out that Alabama administration knew about any of this. I fail to see the fairness in robbing a team of an earned national championship, when one player was taking money under the table, and the school had no way of knowing.
Of course, we know how this will go, in Bama-land, even if the NCAA does take away all wins for the 2012 season. Bama’s still going to claim the AP title, and they’ll wear those “got 15?” T-shirts with no shame. Honestly, it’s pure semantics when the NCAA issues “vacations.” Even if the NCAA demands forfeits, Alabama will still be the only “legitimately crowned” “national champion” of the 2012 season. The AP doesn’t revisit those sorts of things, and the BCS will simply show a vacated title, like they did in Southern Cal’s case back in the mid ‘aughts.
Unless sanctions involve scholarship limitations or a TV or bowl ban, Bama may suffer a bit under some NCAA bite on these revelations, but I’d think Tennessee and Mississippi State fans should be far more worried, as this tale involves some of their players, too. Both schools are already on probation…