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News of the day, 12/29

BREAKING NEWS: Auburn forward Korvotney Barber transported to East Alabama Regional Medical Center for x-rays on left wrist (non-shooting hand). He was injured during the first half of Auburn's game against Towson ...

Hey everyone. Another day in the big city. The big news from ATL today is that Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence, who interviewed for the job Al Borges earned in 2004, has removed his name from consideration for the top assistant's job at Tennessee. It was a big deal to the CU peeps.

Auburn was far less news-worthy, which isn't a bad thing, though there was some funny stuff going down. Let's get into it.

I'm writing this while listening to an American Top 40 show from 7/13/85. I'm at No. 13 right now: Night Ranger's "Sentimental Street." Awesome song. Down on Sentimental Street and the avenues, take a good hard look -- there ain't nothing ever new...

We're tougher than Sly Croom. We're the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.

The main attraction today was Tony Franklin, who hasn't given many interviews since arriving at Auburn three weeks ago. I got a kick out of his discussions about Clemson assistant Vic Koenning, who left Troy University a couple years before Franklin arrived in 2006. They obviously know a lot of the same people.
Even though he's told me that he hasn't talked to them, I know he has. I'm sure he's gotten some information and I know he's gotten film. The good thing is that he has to prepare for both (Auburn's old offense and the one Franklin is installing). Common sense-wise he realizes that it would be highly unlikely that you could go in and install a new offense in nine days. He knows he might see something we might have done and at the same time he has to prepare for the other. I think that's probably a good thing for us.

I'm at No. 10 now. It's Cyndi Lauper's "The Goonies R Good Enough." Awesome. I just bought "The Goonies" for my daughter, which is such a weird thing for me. I was geeked for that movie in 1985. So geeked. Josh Brolin: From Bran in The Goonies to "No Country For Old Men." Quite a journey.

UPDATE: Brolin said in a recent interview that a Goonies sequel is a go and is expected to involve the original cast. He added that Meryl Streep, of all people, is going to be part of it. If Richard Donner, Steven Spielberg and Chris Columbus are involved concurrently, you know, I have faith that said sequel could be a legitimate enterprise.
My favorite television reporter, Mike Raita of ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, asked DT Josh Thompson today if everyone's description of Muschamp as "intense" was simply a diplomatic way of saying he's crazy or insane or goofy. Here's what happened after that:

THOMPSON: Those could be synonyms for that, yes.

(widespread laughter ensues)

MUSCHAMP: That's a big word for a Statesboro guy. I'm proud.

(more widespread laughter)

THOMPSON: Being intense is a good thing, I feel like.

Franklin opened with this humorous comment: "I guess I could talk about several of the players, but I don't know hardly any of their names. I'm probably the only guy ever at a press conference to have a roster of our team. I know some of their numbers, though."

Back to AT40. I just heard back-to-back commercials for the Pontiac Fiero and Dr Pepper. The beverage spot featured vocals by "Difford and Tilbrook." I'm not familiar with their work and that's OK. Now on to No. 7: Whitney Houston's "You Give Good Love." That was her first hit.

Though I believe recent signee Chris Todd will be Auburn's quarterback next season, here's what Franklin said about Kodi Burns today:
I think a player like Kodi will embrace the offense. It's an offense that, if the quarterback can run, it's a huge bonus. You get one extra player, basically, when the quarterback can run. Since he has the ability to do so, I would think it's something he should flourish in.

Lemme sneak this one in. Huntsville Times ace Phillip Marshall recently published a Q-and-A with Tommy Tuberville. Part of that interview dealt with recruiting and some Alabama people are up in arms about it.

Here's the allegedly upsetting quote: "I don't worry about what Alabama does or Georgia or anybody else," Tuberville said. "I have no clue who they have committed. I can't control what they're doing. We work hard at recruiting. We've got good recruiters. We know who we want to recruit. Some we're going to get and some we're not going to get, but we're going to do it the right way and not end up on probation in a few years. We don't recruit at all costs."

Really? That's something to get upset about? That wasn't a shot at Alabama and, frankly, I can't see how Alabama is even involved.

Also: People, look, they all push the limits to some degree. I think it all depends on how important a particular player is to a team's immediate needs. It's not relative to the school; it's relative to the particular kid. I'm so tired of hearing about how Alabama/Auburn/LSU/Tennessee is dirtier than, say, Vanderbilt. They're all trying to get ahead. Anyone in the SEC complaining about "dirty recruiting" -- Nick Saban's rant today doesn't constitute as complaining, for the record -- is, at best, being duplicitous.

UPDATE: Here is a transcript of what Saban said today when asked about negative recruiting:
"There is a lot of negative recruiting out there about a lot of things. That's not our way that we like to handle our business and the way we go about it. We have a great institution. Alabama is a special place. We have special people. We have special tradition. Academically, we've had a tremendous amount of success with players graduating. It's a quality education institution. We have a lot of positive things to sell. We have a great stadium and a great atmosphere to play in. We're going to improve the size of the stadium probably some time in the near future so it's going to be an even better place to play in the future. We play in a great conference. We have tremendous competition and parity. We have so many positives things to sell in recruiting. I honestly don't know much about anyone eles's program that I should be qualified to be talking about it. We don't. Now, do we have to deal with some of those things?

Who you are is more important than anything else. that what we continue to sell in terms of who we are as a program and who we are as people and how we try to go about what we do so we can have success.

There is somewhat of a track record that shows it can be successful. That's what we going to try to continue to build on. I think there will be enough people out there that want to be a part of that and we'll be able to attract the kind of character, quality type people who want to get an education and be good football players and a championships so that we don't have to resort to any other tactics relative to what any other schools may do."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

News of the day, 12/28

Hey everyone. Today's schedule is a bit funky. Auburn held a press conference around lunch time and Clemson followed a few minutes later. I attended both. You can read coverage of those functions below.

Auburn is practicing in the Georgia Dome today from 1 p.m. CST until 3:30 or so. I'll be talking with players at their hotel afterward. You can expect a second wave of blogging goodness around 6 p.m.

OK. On with the countdown.

Thanks for making this the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.

A somewhat touching moment from the press conference: DE Quentin Groves was asked to describe what it's been like playing alongside QB Brandon Cox for five years. His answer:
They said he couldn't play. They said he has a disease that he couldn't bounce back from. Look at him – he's our starting quarterback. A 22-period practice is nothing compared to what he's been through his whole life.
Decatur Daily ace Ross Dellenger said Cox seemed shaken (in a good way) by the comment. I wasn't watching Cox at that point, so I'll defer to my colleague.

Tommy Tuberville was asked about TE Cole Bennett and the season he had. I enjoyed this portion of Tuberville's response: "He wanted a little big more college football. I think some guys should look at that and use all five years of eligibility before they leave and start working for Uncle Sam."

Clemson linebacker Courtney Vincent was pulled over for drunken driving earlier this month. Coach Tommy Bowden hasn't yet made a decision about Vincent's status for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which is THE hot topic at Clemson right now. Bowden gets a handful of questions about this every day. It's weird to me. Drunken driving is a terrible offense, no doubt, but it's not like this kid was dealing drugs or selling intelligence to Iran or anything like that.

Keep in mind that Vincent is the only eligible starting linebacker. The other two, including the team's leading tackler, have been ruled academically ineligible.

Anyway, here is one such Bowden-reporter exchange as it unfolded this afternoon:

REPORTER: Have you made a decision on Courtney?
REPORTER: When will you make a decision?
BOWDEN: Before kickoff.
REPORTER: Do you lose any sleep over this issue?
BOWDEN: Lose sleep? I go to be fairly early, around 10. We meet as a staff at 7 in the morning. I get up at 6 to get to the 7 o'clock meeting. I don't lose sleep.
REPORTER: Did he practice today?
REPORTER: Is there a difference between alcohol and marijuana? (Bowden suspended CB Duane Coleman this time last season for a similar offense involving marijuana.)
BOWDEN: There are differences. I'm not a doctor. I've never smoked -- inhaled or exhaled. I can't tell you the difference from first-hand experience. (Penalties) are based on track records. (Coleman) had a history of offenses. I don't want to make light of the seriousness of either issues. I haven't done that. I'm going to treat this in a private way until we decide to go public.

Tuberville was asked about his policy regarding drug or alcohol situations. Here's what he said:
"Anything associated with misconduct, we do as much investigating as we can. It takes longer in some situations than others. It might drag out. I've taken my stance on this from (previous bosses Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson and R.C. Slocum) -- treat each situation different in terms of making sure you're coming up with the right answer. You're dealing with people's lives. DUI is a major rule for us. You will miss games. You just have to make sure you get it correct."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

News of the day, 12/27

Hey everyone. I'll get the blog gussied up a little later. Lemme get the news to you now.

Thanks, as always, for making this the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the net.

This whole thing about Franklin's offense and how its installation will be delayed is starting to annoy me. In fact, I'm going to write a story about this for Friday's section. Some people (ie Tommy Tuberville and WR Rob Dunn) say they're waiting until February to begin implementing the new stuff. Then I get conflicting information from other players (ie WR Rod Smith and DE Sen'Derrick Marks) who say things will be nutty in the bowl game. I guess it comes down to whom you believe. You know me: I take Tuberville's side with an entire shaker of salt.

The story on Pat Sims is similar. Tuberville said two weeks ago that Sims has decided to play at Auburn in 2008. Sims kinda went back on that Wednesday, insinuating that a decision hasn't been reached. Then Tuberville today said the decision rests with Sims. No idea what to make of this. Of note: Marks, whose opinion I trust above all other players, says this is much ado about nothing and Sims will be at Auburn next season.

Sounds like TB/KR/WR Mario Fannin is hurting. The media can't watch practice, which is fine, but that means we often must rely on second-hand injury information. Fannin didn't practice on Thursday. Tuberville attributed that to a groin injury. Then he said Fannin is suffering from Achilles tendinitis. I don't know.

"He's got to be 100 percent because he's kinda like a track guy," Tuberville said. ``If they've got any kind of nick or bruise they don't feel like they can go 100 percent. He's growing up and learning more."

Funny line from WR Chris Slaughter, who apparently was quite elated after learning that Al Borges had been replaced by Tony! Toni! Toné! Franklin:

``When they first said we were bringing in a new coordinator I was like: Who are we going to get now?," Slaughter said. ``Then I heard he goes five-wide and I called my momma and said 'God was with me on this one'. She told me to just pray and I'd get my blessing, and that's what I did."

Assistant coach Greg Knox said he expects redshirt freshman Terrell Zachery, who spent the regular season in Tuberville academic "doghouse," will play against Clemson. He'll be playing slot behind Rob Dunn and Tim Hawthorne.

Tuberville said the signature gifts in his household this Christmas were Guitar Hero 3 for the Wii, Oblivion for the XBox 360 and "other stuff." I'll say this for Tucker and Troy Tuberville -- they have good taste in console games. Not that I'd ever spend hours playing GH3 or anything ...

Auburn is staying at a large chain hotel in downtown Atlanta (location redacted) that has done little to impress Marks. The sophomore said he prefers the Best Western in LaGrange, Ga., to this alleged four-star establishment. "The TVs look like they're from the 1930s," he said.

News of the day, 12/26

Hey everyone. Auburn opened Chick-fil-A Bowl workouts this morning with a closed practice at Georgia Tech, site of the worst loss I ever saw the Tigers take. That 17-3 pounding by the Yellow Jackets in 2003 was absolutely pathetic.

Anyway, this team is better than that one. I wasn't trying to dredge up past failures.

Still not much news of note right now.

We're the New England Patriots of sports blogs. In fact, we're the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.

Two somewhat high-profile guys may miss the bowl game. LT King Dunlap suffered a knee injury during a practice last week in Auburn and hasn't progressed significantly since then. Considering the way freshman Ryan Pugh played at left tackle this season, I don't think Auburn will be compromised over there. Also, linebacker Bo Harris underwent shoulder surgery last week and it out for a while. He initially injured the shoulder during two-a-days and never regained full strength.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said Wednesday that the school is trying to re-schedule its Sept. 6 game at West Virginia next season.

``We have agreed to play them on a Thursday night in midseason on the road if ESPN can work out the schedule, move other people around a little bit," he said. "We were willing to do that. It could give us an open date in the middle of the season plus a Thursday night game in the middle of the season, give us two Saturdays off plus we have a Saturday off after the Georgia game."

Questions? Comments? You can email me at or post a comment directly to the blog.

News of the ... period?

Hey everyone. As you know, I took some time away from the blog lately. The reasoning is simple: Auburn athletics, for the most part, are at a stand-still. I also needed a short sabbatical after blogging for like 120 of 122 days.

So I'm back. I'm blogging, may or may not do anything on the 2-5, then return for full daily coverage of the Chicken Bowl. I'm pretty geeked about Atlanta. I've heard a lot of belly-achin' from various people about how a 150-mile bowl trip isn't cool, but proximity is a big plus for me. A trip through the airline system rarely is relaxing. Rolling up I-85 with some Priestess blaring? Relaxing.

Right now, I have to knock out a Christmas story on Tristan Davis. I'll return after that for the kind of blogging goodness you've come to expect here at the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the net.

We hope you're having a wonderful holiday time. I've heard various reports from Santa regarding the HOTTIES, so be sure to temper Christmas-morning expectations ... just in case.

The football team has been off since the 18th. Players are required to report to the Auburn team hotel by 6 p.m. on the 25th. Practice starts on the 26th at Georgia Tech, though the workouts will be closed to everyone.

Clemson (9-3) was an excellent team this season. I rarely gave them much love in the AP poll, which perhaps was an oversight on my part. I've spent some time lately looking through the Tommy Bowden Tigers' statistics. It's a pretty impressive collection of numbers:

297.1 per game
TOTAL YARDS GAINED: 412.4 per game

COMBINED NUMBERS FROM TOP TWO TAILBACKS: 328 rushes for 1,648 yards (5.0 per carry) and 11 runs longer than 20 yards

SAME NUMBERS FOR BEN TATE AND BRAD LESTER: 299 rushes for 1,329 yards (4.4 per carry) and 7 runs longer than 20 yards.

CLEMSON QB CULLEN HARPER: 268-for-400 (67%) for 2,887 yards -- 27 TD, 6 INT
THREE AUBURN QBS COMBINED: 178-for-313 (57%) for 2,084 yards -- 11 TD, 14 INT

I took some heat last week from Press-Register ace Evan Woodbery, who didn't agree with my vote for Kansas' Mark Mangino as AP Coach of the Year. Evan thought Illinoise coach Ron Zook was an obvious choice despite earning like 2 of 50+ votes.

Zook deserves some kind of award. It's just that Mangino took KANSAS to the BCS this season. Illinoise was in the Sugar Bowl in 2000. There is some tradition there. There's nothing of the sort at at Kansas.

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