Thinking about Hugh Nall
Hey everyone. I was thinking back on some things I wrote years ago, ideas of mine that might have changed over time, and it got me thinking about Hugh Nall.
As some of you might recall, I once spent a short period of time writing columns for Bryan Matthews and Will Woods over at AuburnSports.com. Things didn't go well. After my third column, a defense of Nall published in April 04, response was so negative that Woods fired me quickly. He's a businessman and his customers revolted against a columnist who was defending the undefendable, so I understood his position. No problem.
Nall's popularity was at an all-time low after the 03 season. Auburn went 8-5 as Nall and fellow assistant Steve Ensminger co-coordinated a terribly underachieving offense. Many fans incorrectly assumed that the display showed that Nall and Ensminger no longer were valuable college coaches. All that meltdown showed me is that co-coordinatorships generally don't work, and that the two assistants probably were more valuable in more peripheral roles.
Has public opinion changed in regard to Hugh Nall? Auburn was outstanding in 04, thanks in large part to a stout offensive line. T Marcus McNeill turned into a millionaire after the 05 season. G Ben Grubbs played himself into the first round during 06. The line hasn't always been the team's strength, but it's never been the weakness. I stand by my initial claim – the one that cause so much angst years ago – that Nall is an elite line coach and a critical piece of Auburn's recent run of success.
Nall and I are not friends away from the field. I don't praise him because of personal interest. I praise him because he's done one heck of a job – and I won't get fired for saying so this time.