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Coaching snapshot: Jay Boulware

Age: 36 (born 11/26/72)
College: B.A. from U. Texas, 1996. (economics)
Playing career: Spent two seasons as a reserve offensive lineman at U. Texas. A heart condition ended his playing career before his junior season began.

Coaching career:
•Auburn, tight ends/special teams (current)
•Iowa State, running backs/special teams (2007-08)
•Utah, tight ends/special teams (2005-06)
•Stanford, running backs (2004)
•Arizona, several roles (2001-03)
•Northern Illinois, several roles (1997-2000)
•Texas, graduate assistant (1994-96)

Larry Mac Duff, who was defensive coordinator at U. Arizona when Boulware was there as a position coach. It was MacDuff, a special-teams guru, who first suggested that Boulware begin learning about special teams. I've also heard Boulware speak highly of Tom Quinn, who coaches special teams with the New York Giants.

Previous Auburn experience:

Coaching philosophy:
Boulware brings an intriguing blend of ideas to Auburn's coaching staff. He is an old-school guy in many ways, placing high demands on his players and making sure they hear exactly what he expects from them. He has the loudest voice on any field. He isn't ashamed to use that booming voice.

Many old-school coaches believe in what I'll call "cookie cutter" football. By that, I mean they think football is static. They believe in one way of doing things. Boulware isn't narrow minded and, in fact, spends a lot of time sharing ideas with other coaches about special-teams innovations. He wants to be a maverick.

Boulware is Auburn's most detail-oriented coach. While fellow assistants like Curtis Luper and Jeff Grimes talk more about hustle and attitude, Boulware asks his players see things on a smaller scale. He is a stickler for footwork, hand placement, stances. I watched him berate TE Bailey Woods during spring drills for aligning too far away from the tackle.

The offending margin measured less than a foot. That didn't matter to Boulware.

I sense that special teams is going to be his thing, though I also believe he could become a head coach someday. At 36, he's still moving along the learning curve. Boulware is an enterprising guy. He's not someone who waits for direction.

Personality profile:
Boulware is an intense guy. I've never talked to him when things seemed leisurely in his world. He's speaks forcefully. I wouldn't call it loud, but he's always audible and his comments leave no room for interpretation.

He speaks his mind. He's honest about his players, even when that honesty demands a critical take. I tie that in with his generally old-school outlook on coaching.

I consider Boulware the team's most upwardly mobile coach. Though I believe offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will be the first assistant to land a major job, I expect to see Boulware gain regional/national relevance during the next 10 years. He's so driven. He has a precise view of what he wants, yet he's very interested in finding new ways to excel.

Those are the kinds of people who, in my experience, make it big.

Alabama takes a (small) hit

Hey everyone. I know this is an Auburn blog and all, but we stray from that basis occasionally.

Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Alabama isn't going to face major sanctions for the textbook scandal that has grabbed headlines during the past nine months or so.

A portion of the story:
It was also not clear if the vacated wins penalty was due to the participation of any of the five players who were suspended for four games in the 2007 season — Antoine Caldwell, Glen Coffee, Marlon Davis, Marquis Johnson and Chris Rogers — or participation by another player or players who should have been ruled ineligible for improperly receiving extra benefits including textbooks or other academic material. Alabama is not expected to vacate its 2007 victory over Tennessee or an Independence Bowl win over Colorado at the end of the 2007 season.

RIP Richard Quick

Somber news. Auburn's swimming and diving coach, Richard Quick, has died.

Here is the (unedited) story I just filed for the print editions:

Swimming and diving coach Richard Quick, the most decorated coach ever to preside over an Auburn program, died Wednesday night after a six-month battle with cancer.

He was 66.

Quick won a total 13 NCAA championships during his career, which included two separate stints with the Tigers. He earned his first Auburn trophy in March when the men's team rallied from a final-day deficit to beat favored Texas.

``Richard's passing leaves a tremendous void -- not only in the swimming community and the Auburn family, but to those individuals who he touched the most," the team's co-head coach, Brett Hawke, said Wednesday night. ``It would be in Richard's greatest honor to not dwell on his loss, but to celebrate his life and the characteristics he embodied, which were his perseverance, compassion and his humanity."

Quick was a newcomer on the college scene in 1979 when Auburn hired him to cultivate the Tigers' fledgling programs. During his three-year stay, the Tigers watched the men's and women's teams qualify for the NCAAs and finish in the top 10.

He then won five consecutive women's titles at Texas before moving to Stanford in 1989, where he won another seven championships.

Quick returned to Auburn in 2007 after his successor and protégé, David Marsh, left to work with an Olympic development program.

Sensing that his memory was fading at an unusual pace, Quick requested a brain scan in November. Doctors discovered an inoperable, cancerous tumor that soon began affecting him in profound ways.

He was moved to a skilled nursing center in Austin, Texas, late last week. According to the family's website, Quick died at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday with his family at his side.

``While he lost a valiant battle against a cruel disease, Richard was an inspiration to countless people who were touched by his steadfast faith and amazing courage in the face of tremendous adversity," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said.

Funeral arrangements in Austin are pending.

Auburn in the MLB Draft

Hey everyone. A few fellas with Auburn ties have heard their name called during the Major League Baseball draft, which began yesterday ... but remains underway.

•IF Joseph Sanders, a Stanhope Elmore High graduate, went in the 5th round (151st overall) to the Colorado Rockies. They listed him as a third baseman. That's a swell organization for hitters.

The Rockies have been jocking Sanders for years. Their area scout, Damon Iannelli, first met Sanders during the summer before his senior year at SEHS and has been in periodic contact ever since. Sanders was flown to Denver last week for a workout at Coors Field.

•SS Nick Franklin, an Auburn baseball signee from suburban Orlando, was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the first round. Don't plan on seeing him at Plainsman Park.

•C Lucas Bailey, an Auburn baseball signee from LaGrange, Ga., was selected in the fourth round (139th overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays. He is technically out of action after undergoing elbow surgery. That apparently didn't sour the Rays. I'd guess that he'll end up signing a contract, but the injury may produce a low-ball offer that leads him to college. Who knows?

•OF Brandon Jacobs, a football signee from suburban Atlanta, was taken in the 10th round (318th overall) by the Boston Red Sox. They listed him as a left fielder. Will that slot be worth enough to woo him away from football? That depends on what the Red Sox offer.

UPDATE: Jacobs has told our friends at that he plans to sign with the Red Sox in short order for what he said was "second-round money." That's a wrap, Auburn fans.

•SP Drew Madrigal, a baseball signee from California, was taken by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round. Since he's a junior-college kid, I'd think he'll take a careful look at the money San Diego offers.

•SP Garrett Bush, a baseball signee from Jacksonville, Fla., was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the 15th round. I'd normally say this is the range where players typically opt for college ball, but I thought the same thing about Jake Peavy in 1999. Then he signed with the Padres.

•RP Scott Shuman, an Auburn junior, was selected by the Rays in the 19th round.

Chizik: The Full Story

The Advertiser's video ace, Shannon Heupel, has produced an 8-minute video of Gene Chizik's talk with supporters at the Montgomery Auburn Club last night.

The coach discusses ... pretty much everything.

NOTE: I initially embedded this, but having a really loud advertisement playing in your face every single time you load the blog probably isn't enjoyable to you.


Gene Chizik speaks, 6/9

Hey everyone. Your Head Coach took some time before the big Montgomery Auburn Club shindig tonight to speak with a few beat hacks about a variety of issues.

Here is a glace at the topics du jour.

Is Tyrik Rollison going to qualify? (submitted by Jet)
"Right now, we feel really good where everybody is, where Tyrik is. Until they get there, we're not going to make any statements about it. We feel really good on all those spots."

Some have said you take a cavalier approach toward recruiting rules and that you push the envelope. Is that true?
"I'm not at liberty to talk about recruiting or things of that nature. (NOTE: He's talking about possible secondary violations.) We're trying to recruit and do things the right way. We do things a little bit outside the box, if you will. That's what we're trying to do. We'll continue to do that. As far as being cavalier, I don't see that at all. We're just trying to do our job and work hard."

Do you feel like a renegade?

"Absolutely not. That's not who we are."

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive asked that coaches stop with the name-calling. Did his plea sink in across the league?
"Everybody is an individual. I know that it was a heart-felt talk and I respected very much what the commissioner said. I can't speak for everyone else; I can only speak for me."

Franklin said there was a lot of paranoia among the staff last season? Is that happening now?

"Everything at Auburn right now is great. What happened in the past or what people say -- I have no control over that. I had no control over it. This is a whole new deal. I don't know what that meant. I've got bigger fish to fry right now at Auburn. I don't pay attention to all that outside stuff."

It seems like head coaches have become rock stars in the recruiting world by taking a more prominent role. Is that accurate?

"I've always thought the head coaches are the central part of the recruiting process. The people who recruit well -- you can usually point to their head coach. That's been throughout time. I haven't noticed that it's swinging in that direction now. I feel like it's been that way for a long time."

Why has recruiting become such a big deal lately?
"It's the open exposure with the internet, the exposure with all the publications. It's the nature of technology. There are no secrets out there anymore. There's information everywhere. That obviously opens things up and there's a lot of attention."

Years ago, you'd hear coaches say they could 'sneak a recruit by'. Can you still do that?
"Not with you guys (around). I just think there are very few secrets these days. There's so much communication between recruits and other recruits, recruits and all the different publications out there. It would be tough."

Chizik in the Gump

Hey everyone. Happy Tuesday. Your Head Coach, Gene Chizik, will be in Alabama's scenic capitol city today meeting with the Montgomery Auburn Club.

It's an exciting time, sure, but it's time HOTTIES got involved.

So if you're not attending tonight's shindig -- judging from our statistical profile, many of you are too far away to do so -- here's your chance to get involved.

What would you ask Gene Chizik?

I'll pick a few (legit) questions and post his answers here ... giving the initial questioner full credit, of course.

NOTE: Bruce Feldman of, a HOTTIE, posted a swell blog of his own yesterday. In it, he reported that Curtis Luper had been turned in for a secondary violation for posting his cell number on a prospect's Facebook page.

Disseminating that information in an email is permissible. Facebook is not a permissible avenue of communication.

Not a big deal. I just found that interesting.

Troy LB commits

Jawara White, a 6-foot-2 linebacker from Charles Henderson High, has announced plans to sign with Auburn in February. We know this because our friends at AuburnSports, AUTigers and Auburn Undercover say so.

Scout and Rivals, the top two scouting services, rate White as a three-star recruit (out of 5) and consider him one of the nation's 20-30th best outside linebackers.

He also had offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss and a bunch of other major schools.

White is the sixth member of the Tigers' 2010 commitment class. Other members include:
OL Shon Coleman, Olive Branch, Miss.
LB Jake Holland, Pelham
ATH Shaun Kitchens, Atlanta, Ga.
K Cody Parkey, Jupiter, Fla.
WR Jeremy Richardson, Springville

Photo credit:

Coaching snapshot: Tommy Thigpen

Age: 38 (born 3/17/71)
College: B.A. from North Carolina, 1993 (political science)
Playing career: Signed with North Carolina in 1989. Played four years there, started three at linebacker. Earned All-ACC accolades three times. Played briefly in the NFL and World League.

Coaching career:
•Auburn, safeties (current)
•North Carolina, linebackers (2005-08)
•Illinois, defensive backs (2003) and linebackers (2004)
•Bowling Green, defensive backs and special teams (2001-02) **under Urban Meyer**
•Tennessee State, linebackers (2000)
•North Carolina, graduate assistant (1998-99)

Mack Brown. Though he's now in his 12th season at Texas, where he's enjoyed a lot of success, Brown spent nine years as North Carolina's coach beginning in 1988. Brown recruited Thigpen to UNC and played a pivotal role in Thigpen getting his coaching start with the Tar Heels.

Thigpen also credits Ron Case, who was a defensive assistant at UNC during Thigpen's days as a graduate assistant. Case favored a highly aggressive, man-to-man approach to secondary work.

Previous Auburn experience:

Coaching philosophy:
Thigpen is a cerebral kind of coach. He's not a screamer. He doesn't coax effort from his players through tantrums. In fact, Thigpen may go five minutes without saying a word on the practice field.

That doesn't mean he's a wallflower. Thigpen, who still is in excellent shape, has no problem running alongside his players as they work through a drill. He may say something. He may not. Thigpen simply likes reminding the players that their work, even the mundane stuff, is being cataloged.

``To me, you lead by bringing your pads," Thigpen said during spring drills. ``I'm not into that rah-rah. I know a lot of people are. If you go out there and knock somebody out, the crowd will do all that for you."

His primary concern, as you can see through that quote, is making sure Auburn's safeties understand their administrative responsibilities. He believes shrewd recruiting and practice time will hone the physical end of things automatically. Teaching players how to think analytically in real time, he believes, is the difference between a good player and a great one.

Personality profile:
Trooper Taylor gets all the publicity for being Mr. Friendly -- nearly all of it deserved -- but Thigpen also has surplus congeniality. He's a happy guy. He smiles more than Taylor, in fact, and has no problem striking up conversations.

If I was a recruit, Thigpen is the guy I'd want as my primary contact.

With that said, he's not exactly outgoing. Thigpen isn't one to skip down the hall whistling Cameo's "Word Up." Thigpen is relatively quiet, but will open up quickly. He doesn't mince words. He'll assess players pretty evenly.

I haven't yet gotten a strong feel for Thigpen's contribution to the program's recruiting enterprise. My guess is that he plays a role similar to Tracy Rocker. They're both straightforward guys who provide little sheen with their opinions. That provides a useful change of pace to the unabashed optimism found with Taylor and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. Promoting itself with an array of different personalities likely is playing a role in Auburn's recruiting renaissance.

Thigpen's hiring intrigued me. He is a '93 UNC grad. He was a successful and popular player there. He coached there for several years in two different stints. Why would he leave that and come to Auburn?

He hasn't fully addressed this on the record, but Thigpen has said Brown gave Chizik a sterling recommendation. Thigpen probably felt maxed out at UNC. Chizik agreed to let Thigpen coach a different position, provided a modest raise and will teach the neophyte -- Thigpen has only nine seasons of major-college experience -- another defensive approach.

Thigpen and Chizik have a lot in common. They're classically trained defensive guys. They're careful with their words. They're calm people who rarely show raw emotion. If Thigpen indeed was searching for another source of inspiration, following Brown's suggestion could pay major dividends.

Lane Kiffin takes another hit

So I'm watching this ESPN report on Lane Kiffin.

ESPN asked the Oakland Raiders for comment. The Raiders. A real organization.

Here is the team's response:

"Lane Kiffin is a flat-out liar. He lied to the team, he lied to the fans and he lied to the media. He will destroy that university like he tried to destroy the Raiders and will eventually clash with (Pat) Summitt and (Bruce) Pearl. Other than that, the Raiders can say nothing further."

Holy cow. I'd love to know what Kiffin did to Al Davis.

Things I learned in California

Hey everyone.

My friend Jason Caldwell (of ITAT) postulates that every Auburn event, regardless of location, will draw at least one angry Alabama fan. Said Alabama fan will curse Auburn throughout said athletic contest.

My daughter was booed in the Memphis airport yesterday for wearing her HABOTN shirt. How about that? She got a "ROLL TIDE" and had no idea why the man said it.

Not an athletic event, sure, but I'm more sure than ever that Jason is right.

Other interesting things:
  • We did get a "WAR EAGLE" at California Adventure (Disney's second theme park) from some Georgia folks. State of Georgia, I mean. They hadn't heard of the blog. I hope they visit now.

  • I watched the local news every night. College athletics was discussed only once ... and that was when San Diego State ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg, soon to be the top MLB draft pick, pitched against Virginia in the NCAA regionals.

  • Alabama is hot. California is not. The temperature never rose above 75.

  • Stalker alert: Jenna Fischer's house is not very big.

  • Stalker alert: Georges Marciano (creator of Guess clothing) had seven Ferraris, three Bentleys and two covered exotics in his driveway.

  • I want my daughter to attend UCLA so we can visit her in Westwood.

  • I'm glad to be home.

PHOTO NOTE: That's from the neighborhood adjacent to the Rose Bowl. I liked how the trees were all bent toward the right ... though there was no wind.

*******OFF-TOPIC ZONE********

Here is some premiere footage from The Beatles Rock Band, which excites me. The game releases in September. Should be awesome.

I can guarantee that several Auburn beat hacks will be playing.

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