This is the calm before the storm ... if you consider Spring Practice a hurricane of activity. It can be.
- SCHEDULE UPDATE: I'm planning to talk with Ben Tate tomorrow. The goal is to simply check in with him, see what's been happening since Pro Day and how he's holding up. I'm sure these are tough days. He'll be a millionaire soon, but he's still a (semi-)broke college student for another six weeks.
- HOOPS COACHING SEARCH: Athletic director Jay Jacobs had some names in mind for Jeff Lebo replacements before this whole thing went down. He's sniffing around to gauge interest from those guys before getting a search firm involved. Who will be on that list? Chuck Person is on it. Tubby Smith, the former UK figurehead and current Minnesota coach, is on it. I know nothing substantive beyond that. They have not been interviewed and, as far as I know, permission hasn't yet been granted in either case. Since Minnesota backed into the NCAA Tournament, an interview with Smith wouldn't happen for a bit.
Is Smith a real candidate? It doesn't look like a good financial fit. Though his buyout is essentially zero right now, Smith is guaranteed to make at least $1.8 million during each of the next four seasons. When Jacobs said Auburn would offer a competitive salary in an SEC context, I think he means ~$1.3 million. That's much higher than Lebo's $750,000 salary, but it's well short of what Minnesota pays. I don't see Smith accepting a pay cut to take over this program. It's not like he's from Alabama; he grew up in rural Maryland.
Are you wondering about Missouri coach Mike Anderson? He is guarnateed $1.55 million per season through 2016, though a portion of that is withheld each year until 2013 for a deferred compensation fund. It's a way to keep him at Missouri.
Anderson had the opportunity to leave Missouri for Georgia last spring. Reports say he left at least $500,000 on the table to stay with the Tigers, so Auburn's chances don't look very good. That's not even considering what happened when Auburn expressed interest in 2004. Short answer: It didn't end well.
I know you want to discuss more candidates, but I can't identify the actual targets just yet. Jacobs isn't to that stage.
- BASEBALL UPDATE: Auburn was rolling right along until the trip to No. 2 Arizona State last weekend. The team flew home winless in three games, but didn't play poorly overall. Arizona State is really good. The Tigers probably will crush Alabama A&M today and Wednesday before opening conference play at Georgia this weekend.
Is this the Auburn team that finally can qualify for Hoover? Magic 8 Ball says: Cannot predict now.
The Tigers currently are 9-5.