We’re in the bleak midwinter.
(Photo by Acid Reign.)
War Eagle, everybody. A long offseason continues, but there is a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel. Snow and ice have given way to thunderstorms and short sleeves here in the Deep South. Auburn football players have begun the dreaded mat drills in their off-season workout regime. This means Spring Drills and A-Day are just around the corner!
For me, this is a week for idle thinking, and I’ll share a few thoughts on Auburn-related items. First off, I guess I’ve got to weigh in on the “ten second hold-up” rule being proposed this spring by the NCAA Rules Committee. As we now know, this whole rule change is one being pushed by two dissatisfied, frightened SEC West coaches, and was not on the NCAA’s agenda. It turns out that Nick Saban invited himself to the the rules committee meeting, and was not a planned attendee. Bret Bielema claims to be representing the interests of American Football Coaches Association, but not a single other coach will admit to supporting Bielema. Hmmm…
I don’t get it. The refs we have now can’t even tell if the game clock has run out, or needs one second put back on, without instant replay. They are now supposed to signal the ball, “ready for play,” but not really, for ten seconds? They are already holding up the ball when the offense substitutes, to allow the defense to follow suit. How much more time does the defense need? Offenses usually run a few shifts and motions before the snap, and probably a meer-cat to the sideline, anyway. I think it’s pretty rare for a team to snap it before ten seconds are up. Saban and Bielema have made themselves the poster children for “whiney,” and there’s no real benefit to them even if the absurd rule were to pass! I chuckled at the news this week that Saban was considering being involved in a Mercedes dealership in Birmingham. What, coaches? Lobbying for “American football,” and selling German cars? That’s rich! How many times did we watch those Saban “Ford Tough” commercials last fall? Let the buyer beware.
Speaking of football, Auburn will start spring drills on March 18th. Checking the calendar, that’s a mere 26 days away! Can we wait that long? A-Day will be played at 2:00 PM Central Time on April 19th. Auburn’s A-Day this year will be televised on ESPN. Here’s hoping the Tigers can entertain another massive crowd like last year, with the nation watching!
Even though Auburn’s once again mired with a losing SEC basketball record at 4-9, I do have to give embattled head coach Tony Barbee some credit. His guys have usually played hard, if not well. I finally got a chance to watch a complete game last Saturday against Mississippi State, and I’ve seen the highlights of last night’s close loss to number two Florida. The biggest negative about Barbee’s style is that his players seem to be continually daring the refs to call fouls. The MSU game was an absolute free-throw fest last Saturday. As the home team, Auburn got a few more calls, and pulled out a ten point victory.
Against Florida, Barbee was whining about Auburn allowing 12 offensive rebounds. Coach, when you lob up as many long range shots as Auburn does, offensive rebounds will happen. That ball can kick out to anywhere when you miss a three point shot. What was painful about the loss to Florida was that Auburn had the game tied at 66 with 20 seconds left, and could have forced Florida to try to make a shot to win. It wasn’t a great night for Florida shooters, who only hit 40 percent from the floor. Instead, Auburn immediately was called for a blatant grab right in front of the ref, and sent the Gators to the free throw line. Following the successful Florida free throws, Auburn could not inbound the ball because all four guys on the floor took off, and there was no one to throw the ball inbounds to. Coaching, folks. Coaching. Twenty four games into the season, and Auburn can’t even inbound the ball with the game on the line.
I think it’s going to be another long baseball season at Auburn, also. Auburn began their home season yesterday by being shelled by FCS opponent Alabama State, 9-3. ASU is actually a pretty good FCS team, and they played error-free ball. Not so for the Tigers. The game got away on two errors in the 8th, while the Hornets were hitting balls to the wall. What’s ominous is that these pitchers are going to be expected to get SEC batters out. Worse is that the Tiger team batting average stands at a meager .217 for the season. It’s going to be a battle to stay out of last place. About the only thing going for the Tigers is that this is head coach Sunny Galloway’s first year. But coach, talking trash about playing in Omaha while giving up 9 runs to Alabama State just makes you look bad. Man, the game has changed. I remember college baseball for the “clonk” of aluminum bats, and run totals in the teens for both teams, not .217 batting averages!
On a lighter note, I had a chuckle yesterday evening when I read this piece from our old friend Jerry Hinnen, formerly of the Joe Cribbs Carwash and the War Eagle Reader. Apparently Oklahoma’s compliance department turned in a some secondary violations for three players for being provided “pasta in excess of the permissible amount allowed.” The players each were required to cough up $3.83 to be reinstated. There’s a “pasta allowance” in the NCAA rules? Who knew?