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Auburn interviews, 12/12

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Practice video, 12/12

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Video alert

Hey everyone. I have just returned from taping a portion of Les Tigres' practice. I am working on that now. I hope to make that available for your viewing pleasure no later than 3:45 p.m. CST.

I'll also provide a full practice update after that.
    OF NOTE:

  • Tyrik Rollison, the suspended quarterback, was not at practice.

  • Barrett Trotter, who missed last season with a knee injury, was participating fully.

  • Mario Fannin was clad in a non-contact jersey.

  • Aairon Savage and Zac Etheridge were watching from the sideline. They're not practicing.

  • I didn't see Eltoro Freeman, but I am told he is practicing. They're going split-squad because they're indoors.

  • Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb were working as Wildcat quarterbacks.

Radio Appearance Forthcoming, other stuff

Hey everyone. I will be doing my weekly segment on SuperSport 930 out of Jackson, Miss., in a bit. That extravaganza will begin around 9:05 a.m. CST.

We'll be talkin' Auburn, the Heisman Trophy, Tiger Woods, Tim Tebow, Doug Barfield. The usuals.

Be there or be rectangular.

Auburn has released its practice schedule for the next few weeks. There is good news for j00. A few of those practices will be open for 30 minutes, which means you'll get some practice video. Aren't you excited? Maybe we'll get some footage of scout-team stalwarts PPL and Tyrik Rollison.

Dates: Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (Dec. 18), Saturday (Dec. 19), Monday (Dec. 21), Tuesday (Dec. 22).

Then they're off until Tampa.

Going through the postseason motions

Hey everyone. Your favorite head coach made his first December trip to Tampa today for an Outback Bowl appearance.

The two coaches, both athletic directors and a bunch of well-to-do people from the Tampa/St. Pete area congregated at Raymond James Stadium for the event. Pictures were taken. Balls were autographed. A semi-real document was signed. A good time reportedly was had by all.

Here is more photographic evidence of Chizik's three-hour tour in Tampa:

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Kiffin in trouble? Don't count on it

Hey everyone. As you've heard, the NCAA is conducting an investigation of sorts into Tennessee's "Orange Pride" athletic hostesses.

I penned a little column about this very subject in Thursday's editions. (That column also delves ever so slightly into Tommy Tuberville's situation.)

Anyway, I don't see this Orange Pride thing becoming a huge deal. The school will portray these gals as rogues, operating at the behest of nobody but themselves, and sell them out in a way only Linda Tripp could appreciate.

This will be at least the seventh secondary recruiting violation incurred under Kiffin's watch. Sounds like a lot? It really is.

Still, he won't get busted. Not this time.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Wade Payne

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Auburn lands three on the COACHES' All-SEC team

Hey everyone. Let's do another list.

Auburn placed three guys on this one:
  • Antonio Coleman on first-team defense.
  • Walt McFadden on second-team defense.
  • Lee Ziemba on second-team offense.

TE -- Aaron Hernandez, Florida
OL -- Mike Pouncey, Florida
OL -- Mike Johnson, Alabama
OL -- Ciron Black, LSU
OL -- Mitch Petrus, Arkansas
OL -- John Jerry, Ole Miss
C -- Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
WR -- Shay Hodge, Ole Miss
WR -- A.J. Green, Georgia
QB -- Tim Tebow, Florida
TB -- Mark Ingram, Alabama
TB -- Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State

DE -- Antonio Coleman, Auburn
DL -- Terrence Cody, Alabama
DL -- Carlos Dunlap, Florida
DL -- Corey Peters, Kentucky
LB -- Rolando McClain, Alabama
LB -- Eric Norwood, South Carolina
LB -- Brandon Spikes, Florida
LB -- Rennie Curran, Georgia
DB -- Eric Berry, Tennessee
DB -- Joe Haden, Florida
DB -- Javier Arenas, Alabama
DB -- Mark Barron, Alabama

Reviewing the real AP All-SEC team

Hey everyone. Welcome.

So I ran my All-SEC ballot by you earlier this week. Now we know who actually made the team. Let's see how that compares to what I chose.

BOLD are players I didn't have on my first team.

WR — Shay Hodge, Mississippi, 6-2, 207, Sr.
WR — A.J. Green, Georgia, 6-4, 207, So.
L — Mike Johnson, Alabama, 6-5, 303, Sr.
L — Ciron Black, LSU, 6-5, 322, Sr.
L — Mike Pouncey, Florida, 6-5, 315, Jr.
L — John Jerry, Mississippi, 6-6, 335, Sr.
C — Maurkice Pouncey, Florida, 6-5, 310, Jr.
TE — Aaron Hernandez, Florida, 6-2, 250, Jr.
QB — Tim Tebow, Florida, 6-3, 240, Sr.
RB — u-Mark Ingram, Alabama, 5-10, 212, So.
RB — Anthony Dixon, Mississippi St., 6-1, 235, Sr.
K — Leigh Tiffin, Alabama, 6-2, 212, Sr.
All-Purpose — Dexter McCluster, Mississippi, 5-9, 170, Sr.
All-Purpose — Randall Cobb, Kentucky, 5-11, 188, So.

E — Antonio Coleman, Auburn, 6-3, 261, Sr.
E — Carlos Dunlap, Florida, 6-6, 290, Jr.
T — u-Terrence Cody, Alabama, 6-5, 354, Sr.
T — Dan Williams, Tennessee, 6-3, 327, Sr.
LB — u-Rolando McClain, Alabama, 6-4, 258, Jr.
LB — u-Eric Norwood, South Carolina, 6-1, 252, Sr.
LB — Rennie Curran, Georgia, 5-11, 225, Jr.
CB — Javier Arenas, Alabama, 5-9, 195, Sr.
CB — Joe Haden, Florida, 5-11, 190, Jr.
S — u-Eric Berry, Tennessee, 5-11, 203, Jr.
S — Mark Barron, Alabama, 6-2, 214, So.
P — Drew Butler, Georgia, 6-2, 203, So.

  • Ryan Mallett at quarterback. He made the second team. I guess it's a matter of how much one guy makes a difference. Arkansas, in my opinion, would have been awful without Mallett. Florida minus Tebow wouldn't have been No. 1, but they'd have been pretty good. I could see a great argument for Tebow, too. It's just a matter of preference.

  • Colin Peek at tight end. He made the second team. I also like Hernandez a lot and I think he'll be a terrific NFL player. He's significantly faster than Peek. I've been impressed with Peek all year because, for a while there, he was the main player in the Tide's passing attack. Peek was up to that challenge and more.

  • Patrick Peterson at cornerback. He made the second team. Cornerback can be a very difficult position to quantify. I don't really look at stats. I go by coaches. I hear who they consider nasty and if the player looks nasty to me, I develop that opinion. I assure you that Peterson's reputation is more significant than a second-team selection would lead you to believe.

Men's hoops: Auburn wins, 68-67

Hey everyone. We are awaiting tip-off to the massive Auburn/Virginia game.

It is being televised on Comcast Sports. Check your local listings.

**I left my camera upstairs. I'll post a real pic at halftime.**

    Auburn wins, 68-67.
    Knox tips in an errant shot from Reed with :01 second remaining. It was nice.

  • FOURTH TO @ 2:59
    Auburn leads, 66-62. Auburn moved ahead by eight points with 4:20 remaining and, well, I thought that was enough. Then Virginia got a tip-in (laxy box-out by Auburn) and a steal-and-bucket. Now it's a four-point game and the Cavaliers have the ball. This is when I'd expect a young team like Auburn to make mental errors. They can't afford any more.

  • THIRD TO @ 7:45, 2nd
    Auburn leads, 58-55. Both teams appear to have gone on their second-half runs, but Auburn's is better. Consecutive tip slams -- one from Earnest Ross and one from Kenny Gabriel -- energized the situation. Virginia's offense is two-dimensional right now. One option is point guard Jontel Evans beating Reed off the dribble. The second is firing away from three-point range. That combination probably won't win this game.

  • SECOND TO @ 11:50, 2nd half
    Tied at 46. I like the way Brendon Knox is playing. He's trying to be assertive. Auburn's defense has been better this half. Landesburg had 17 in the first half. He has one point in the second half so far. Auburn is so small -- they have to remind themselves to rebound all the time. Nothing comes easily.

  • FIRST TO @ 15:51, 2nd half
    Auburn leads, 42-40. Auburn came out with more enthusiasm, spurred on by Reed. He was really pushing the tempo. Hargrove finished a few breaks nicely. Virginia still is settling for the three-point shots. Not sure why they don't drive more -- this Landesburg kid, a small forward, is really good.

    Virginia leads, 34-32. Auburn made a really nice push there. Defensive effort was up. The Tigers missed a ton of free throws, but they hit a pair of threes. The last one came from Sullivan's hands as the buzzer sounded.

  • FOURTH TO @ 3:04
    Virginia leads, 31-23. Auburn is taking a little more care on the offensive end, but it's not yielding many points. Virginia seems content to fire away from the perimeter. They're hitting a few more form out there. That's the difference right now.

  • THIRD TO @ 7:43
    Virginia leads, 25-16. The Cavaliers are on a bit of a run now. Auburn is not taking good shots. Virginia's looks are better. They also got a nice bucket in transition after a weak turnover involving Sullivan. Auburn doesn't have much want-to as Lee Ziemba would say.

  • SECOND TO @ 11:42
    Virginia leads, 15-13. I know this will surprise you, but Auburn seems impatient on the offensive end. Not getting good shots. Virginia is in the same boat, mostly because Auburn's defense is pretty good, but they've hit a couple more buckets. They're also rebounding more aggressively.

  • FIRST TO @ 15:25
    Virginia leads, 12-11. Teams still messy in terms of strategy. No rhythm yet.

    PG -- "Speed" Reed of Houston
    SG -- Frankie Sullivan of Uniontown, Ala.
    "SF" -- Tay Waller of rural Georgia
    "PF" -- Lucas Hargrove of South Carolina
    C -- Johnnie Lett of Mobile, Ala.

    Thrilling atmosphere. There's at least 750 people here.

My Heisman ballot

Hey everyone. After conferring with Wifey, whose opinion I at least considered, I have made my final decisions.

1st -- Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

2nd -- Mark Ingram, TB, Alabama

3rd -- Toby Gerhart, TB, Stanford

Suh's numbers: 82 tackles (47 solo, 35 assists), 12 sacks, 1 interception.

Why I like him: Suh is a dominating defensive player whom I consider the best DL of my professional career. He does everything. He played a huge role in Nebraska's midseason renaissance and you saw him play against Texas. He is, in my opinion, the most outstanding player in college football.


Ingram's numbers: 249 carries for 1,542 yards, 15 TDs. He also caught 30 passes for 322 yards and another three TDs.

Why I like him: Ingram is a stud. He's the best tailback around. He gave his team a bankable, trustworthy, game-breaking element every single week. Well, except for Auburn week. Ingram still had a whale of a season. Outstanding player. Not quite as dominating as Suh, but still a top-shelf star.


Gerhart's numbers: 311 carries for 1,736 yards, 26 TDs. He also caught 10 passes for 149 yards.

Why I like him: Gerhart is a workhorse back. He averaged 26 carries per game, which is incredible. You know how often Ben Tate ran the ball. He only averages 20 carries per game. He made Stanford relevant on the national scene for the first time in a while.


*Wifey said I should vote for Ingram.

*A guy I know through correspondence, Kari Chisholm from Oregon, is busting his hump to determine the winner. He's gathering votes in an unofficial capacity. He's been 100% accurate since starting this endeavor in 2002.

Comments from People

Hey everyone. We have just concluded the Outback Bowl teleconference with a few people whose opinions matter.

Let's do this.

    JIM McVAY, Outback Bowl czar

  • On why he picked Auburn, a West team, after taking East teams for 13 consecutive years: ``There were a number of really good teams with 7-5 records. We watched Auburn all year. A lot of really, really good things kept coming up about Auburn. We typically take teams from the East -- but we've talked about having a better way of getting better circulation in the West. It was the perfect opportunity and the perfect time to bring Auburn back."

  • On why he picked Northwestern over Wisconsin: ``Wisconsin and Northwestern played a couple weeks ago and Northwestern beat them. It just seemed like they would be a team ... the head-to-head was really the final decision. We're going to bring a team to our game that hasn't been to the Outback Bowl. They're a fun and wide-open offense. It really came down to how Northwestern won that game (against Wisconsin) and they deserved it."

  • On the significance of Auburn's win against Tennessee on how this all played out: ``It absolutely added to the argument. Auburn beat Tennessee. Auburn beat Ole Miss. And then the way they played against Alabama. I think Auburn can play with anybody in the country."

    JAY JACOBS, Auburn athletic director

  • On how aggressive he was in pursuing this deal: ``I'm not sure we took a more active role than some of my peers in the league. We began to contact bowls to find out what they needed from us to make a good business decision. We were very proactive what we were doing all day Sunday and all day Monday."

  • On what he's expecting in terms of ticket sales: ``We went ahead and put options up there on the tickets. There were good reasons for it not being official (until today). Based on the chatter and the emails and everything during the past week, it's been going very, very well. We expect it to be very, very successful."

    GENE CHIZIK, Auburn football coach

  • On what this bowl means to Le Programme: ``What we wanted to do this year was start building a foundation for a great, great future. You sit there and you look at being able to end the season with an Outback bowl invitation with a good team from team from the Big 10. What does everybody want? A New Year's Day bowl game."

  • More along those same lines: ``Ending the year like this gets our fans … in a frenzy. It's important in terms of people seeing where this program is headed."

    BEN TATE, tailback

  • On his reaction to finding out Auburn was selected for the Outback
    ``I was excited when I heard we were going to the Outback Bowl. It’s a great reward for us. To get a bid to a New Year’s Day bowl shows how much respect people have for Auburn, since they picked us over so many other teams they could have taken. I’m just really looking forward to playing Northwestern, having fun, and doing our best to win the game."

Official word: Auburn vs. Northwestern

Hey everyone. It's officially a go.

Auburn will play Northwestern in the 24th annual Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

AUBURN (7-5)
Key wins: vs. Ole Miss (33-20 on Oct. 31)
at Tennessee (26-22 on Oct. 3)

Stinkers: at LSU (31-10 on Oct. 24)
vs. Kentucky (21-14 on Oct. 17)

Key wins: at Iowa (17-10 on Nov. 7)
vs. Wisconsin (33-31 on Nov. 21)

Stinkers: at Syracuse (37-34 on Sept. 19)
at Michigan State (24-14 on Oct. 17)

My All-SEC team

This is negotiable until midnight. That's when it's due to the Associated Press.

Thanks to RK and D.Miller for their help.

WR Shay Hodge, Ole Miss
WR AJ Green, Georgia
L John Jerry, Ole Miss
L Ciron Black, LSU
L Mike Pouncey, Florida
L Mike Johnson, Alabama
C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
TE Colin Peek, Alabama
QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
RB Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State
PK Leigh Tiffin, Alabama
All-Purpose Randall Cobb, Kentucky

E Antonio Coleman, Auburn
E Carlos Dunlap, Florida
T Terrence Cody, Alabama
T Dan Williams, Tennessee
LB Rolando McClain, Alabama
LB Eric Norwood, South Carolina
LB Rennie Curran, Georgia
CB Javier Arenas, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
S Mark Barron, Alabama
S Eric Berry, Tennessee
P Drew Butler, Georgia

Offensive Player of the Year: Mark Ingram, Alabama
Defensive Player of the Year: Rolando McClain, Alabama
Coach of the Year: Nick Saban, Alabama
Freshman of the Year: Warren Norman, Vanderbilt

*The SEC has a lot of really good LBs and DEs. It's shameful that guys like Eric Norwood, Chris Marve and Brandon Spikes aren't listed here, but you gotta make tough decisions.

*Anthony Dixon meant so much to his team. He's underrated.

*Shay Hodge didn't blow me away at any point, but his numbers are outstanding.

*Injured or not, AJ Green is a stud that worries the heck out of defensive coordinators.

My final regular-season AP poll

Hey everyone. Top of the mornin' to you.

During a long, dark drive home from Atlanta, I pondered my poll. I now have produced my opinions into written form. It goes like this:

1. Alabama
2. Texas
3. TCU
4. Cincinnati
5. Boise State
6. Florida
7. Ohio State
8. Oregon
9. Georgia Tech
10. Virginia Tech
11. Iowa
12. Penn State
13. BYU
14. Nebraska
15. LSU
16. Oregon State
17. Miami Florida
18. Oklahoma State
19. Utah
20. West Virginia
21. Pittsburgh
22. Arizona
23. Stanford
24. Texas Tech
25. Houston

*I thought about putting TCU at No. 2, but it's hard to demote Texas after running the table in a more difficult conference. I'd rather see Alabama-TCU in Pasadena. Honestly, I don't think it's going to matter. Alabama, who I've had at No. 1 for seven weeks, is the best team and it's not close.

*I moved Iowa up again. You know it was tough for me. They're 10-2 and their body of work is more impressive than Penn State's.

*I refuse to drop Nebraska after their game against Texas. They won. I saw it.

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