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Two ESPN analysts weigh in on Lebo

Hey everyone. It's my belief that we're only a few days from Jeff Lebo's Judgment Day on the Plains. His team is 15-16 and needs a nearly historic run to make the NCAAs.

Short summary: Typical season of Auburn basketball.

With that in mind, I spoke with Jimmy Dykes and Pat Forde recently about Lebo's situation. Dykes, as you probably know, is an analyst for many of ESPN's basketball telecasts and Forde is a popular guy. I see him on ESPN from time to time as well.

Here's what they had to say...

Former Arkansas player and coach

On his overall assessment of Lebo's job performance: ``Any real evaluation of Jeff Lebo, if you want to be fair to Jeff Lebo, can't be done until we see what he can do with the new arena. What he has to work with, that old arena -- it's an eyesore and a hindrance to everything they're trying to do."

On why he deserves more time: ``He's been playing from behind because of the facilities. I've been amazed at the job he's done so far. Nobody questions his ability to coach. He's great with the Xs and Os. Auburn deserved to finish dead last every single year with those facilities and the fact is that Jeff has done a lot better than that. Auburn needs to look itself in the eye and decide if it's been fair to Jeff Lebo."

On if it's fair to compare Auburn to Mississippi State (asked because MSU's basketball program, which also faces many of the same struggles, is consistently more competitive than Auburn's program): ``Auburn is much more of a football school. There's no doubt about it. We know where football ranks at Auburn -- both with the fans and on that campus. Basketball is much more of an emphasis at Mississippi State. It's not a fair comparison."

More on Lebo's value: ``Who are they going to get? Lebo has as good a pedigree as you'll find. He's a great coach. He has less resources than everyone else in that league. It's a fact. He's gotten the most out of the talent he's been able to get. A It's not like Auburn has done much to help him. The new arena is a big step forward."

Former Missouri student and Louisville columnist

On his overall assessment of Lebo's job performance: ``Auburn is pretty stagnant right now and I don't see much progress being made. Auburn is a football school. That's no secret. It's tough to overcome that pedigree, but that should be the goal. It shouldn't be that hard. In basketball, it takes fewer players to change your program. I just don't think Auburn is challenging for those kinds of players. Until that changes, I don't expect to see Auburn get much better."

On if it's even possible for Auburn to challenge for excellent players: ``Absolutely, it's possible. There are great players in that state. John Calipari has a few good ones. It's obvious there is talent there."

On if he thinks Lebo will improve: ``Here's a good way to put it -- he's trying to do it the right way in all ways. I'm talking about academics and behavior and the whole thing. There's a lot to be said for that, for running a clean program. The bigger problem for him may be that there isn't a basketball culture down there. That's something you don't create overnight."


Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

Substantial evening greetings, Mr. Tate.

10:54 PM  
Blogger jhag said...

the night owls always thrive

10:55 PM  
Blogger jhag said...


10:57 PM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

The mistake I make is actually reading the blog before I post my substance.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Slow drive up ... slowed by in traffic a few places and thunderstorms in others.

Wish I could have seen Lady Antebellum at Ryman tonight. I'm right here and they were right there and ... it didn't happen. So it goes.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Also: My Lebo percentage is dropping ... down from 90% to 50%.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

glad you're there safely, JGT.

MrsTHT posted earlier tonight. That means everyone in our family but Molly dog have posted on HABOTN.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Molly is welcome.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

I still think Lebo stays.

ok, it's Thursday here and it really is time for me to get some sleep.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

Percentage of what? Returning?

The Ryman is cool. I played their once as the opening act for the opening act of the opening act, but still dude ... it was the Ryman.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...


their = there

11:05 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I said last weekend that I was 90% sure Lebo would stay. I'm split now. I may have overestimated his popularity among People.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

Good article Jay, now I feel a little embarrassed for pushing for Lebo's exit. I guess I was a little spoiled in what was probably AU's golden years in the 80's & 90's with Smith and Ellis. In those years is felt like auburn was in the tourney like once out of three years. Now it has been like 7 years. Ok Lebo you got one more year from me.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

Geezy - you gonna have any free time while you're there?

11:20 PM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

At night?

11:21 PM  
Blogger George Brown said...

Lebo should stay. Getting rid of him would only put the program back further. Let him finish out his contract and then make a decision. At least let him coach in the arena he was promised.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Phormerly Phred said...

I agree that you can't create a basketball culture overnight. You also can't create a basketball culture if you don't play over .500.

Does six years = overnight?

11:40 PM  
Blogger jhag said...


11:40 PM  
Blogger jhag said...

Or Tubby Smith

11:40 PM  
Blogger SteveFC said...

Isn't there some NCAA rule against letting college coaches finish their contracts? I thought it was pretty much extend or end.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

Good morning, Hotties!

Time to rise and shine!

ok, fine, I'll let you sleep a little longer. Just don't burn any daylight.

3:21 AM  
Blogger Jet Hates UAT said...

The night time is the right time ... for substance.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Jet Hates UAT said...

Time for change.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Lebo actually going away from Auburn? I'll believe it when I see it. I want change, but I still don't see it.

6:42 AM  
Blogger CH=B said...

Good morning all. Don't the comments of the experts sound a little familiar? Those are some of the things I have been saying all along. I feel like Ben Tate here.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Loganville Tiger said...

``Any real evaluation of Jeff Lebo, if you want to be fair to Jeff Lebo, can't be done until we see what he can do with the new arena. What he has to work with, that old arena -- it's an eyesore and a hindrance to everything they're trying to do."

Not giving a tinker's damn about basketball or caring to learn the rules - let me get this straight, the Arenas wins ballgames - not players and coaches - Got It.

I guess I could coach B'Ball if given a nice enough arena.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Nice Logan. With that logic, we need to expand Jordan-Hare to $130K fans and we will be repeat MNC's ever year.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

He's talking about recruiting ... Dykes doesn't believe Auburn can successfully recruit big-time players without a suitable array of facilities.

Now Auburn has that.

7:12 AM  
Blogger ehyou said...

Mr. Forde talks about a "Basketball Culture"

I'm not sure what that is, but it sounds very cool.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Jet Hates UAT said...

Reading Pat Forde ... I get the feeling he's saying ... "She's a nice girl. She makes her own clothes. She's got a great personality. All the girls love her."

As far as Dykes go, I always wonder what ex-coaches are going to say. With Vitale, every coach is great. What is it with Dykes? I don't know.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Eddie said...

I get the recruiting angle. Just playing with the logic. So the new arena will make Lebo a better recruiter? It will help, but putting players in the NBA would help Lebo out more.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I'm headed to Mass right now, so I don't have time to create a good, new thread.

Here's my big Lebo story.

I'll create a new thread when I get back from Mass.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Miller said...

How would we know if he could recruit difference making players? He doesn't even call them.

Both Cousins and Bledsoe (freshman stars at UK, both from in state) said that they never even got so much as a phone call from Lebo.
The facility argument is a hindrance, but not the reason why AU/Lebo has sucked. It is an excuse that doesn't hold water.
To be fair to Lebo? The guy has had 6 years!

7:31 AM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Nice read.

7:34 AM  
Blogger ehyou said...

I've never been to a mass.

Are there monks in robes? How about sacrifices? It all seems a little scary to me.

7:34 AM  
Blogger cincytiger said...

Great article, Jay.

Good morning Hotties!

7:38 AM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

The mastery of buzzwords and their ability to be vague makes those two great.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Jet Hates UAT said...

Has anyone seen Norm this morning? I'm worried.

7:45 AM  
Blogger stupup74 said...

Good morning hotties.

1. I am calling right now, at 9:07 EST, the Auburn Tigers will win at least 2 games in the SEC tournament. This is a more intimate arena than the usual tourney venue. It will give the tigers an advantage because of how they play. The backgrounds should be better and they should shoot better. They have played very well away from home in spurts, and a neutral arena should give them somewhat of an advantage.

2. jhag has the greates avitar ever. I have me a man crush on some Jason Heyward.

3. I reserve the right to amend comment 1., but not comment 2. I loves me some Jason Heyward.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Loganville Tiger said...

WOW - Just saw on that Blogger dealie that somebody in Vietnam just hoped on...

Could that be Michael?

8:16 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

I was thinking Justin Hayward and wondering what on earth is stupup talking about? Although I do love me some Moody Blues.

It's already been a long day since I woke up at 4 a.m. EST (apparently an affliction I caught from 2.0 and LGGB. Only 14+ more hours of work today!

8:17 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

uh oh, Michael doesn't like me to speak parenthetically open. )

8:18 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

LT - maybe that was Feng.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

Good evening, Aero!
Warrrrrrr Eagle!!!

8:21 AM  
Blogger Jet Hates UAT said...

Gotta go to Bham today ... bringing my canoe.


P.S. -- Stu, I wish I had your optimism.

8:26 AM  
Blogger API said...

Dear Leader is visitin Ho Chi Min city this morning.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Miller said...

I saw Cam on Mario Fannin's ustream the other evening... he looked fine to me...
I call bunk on that rumor.

8:43 AM  
Blogger patdyeswildturkey said...


Great articles, I have been tossing and turning over this issue as it has been very upsetting. Just kidding, it was from seeing Moniques unshaven legs at the Oscars.

Anyway here are my early morning points.

1. Arena - Agree the arena should help. But how long till we see the results of the new arena. I dont see any McDonalds all-americans on next years recruit list. It will be an advantage for whomever has it.

2. Lebo- I agree in some respects Lebo cant make Chicken salad with Chicken Sh#t. Most of Auburns players were recruited with asterisks and not stars. Sad to say 5 of those players that fought and hustled their way to a few victories are gone next year.

Lebo can coach I dont doubt that. He can change with the flow of the game plan. However, his recruiting has lacked. I do think he offered the UK guys. But its like asking Troy or UAB why they didnt offer Cameron Newton. Why? Because they had no chance. Kids dont want to resurect a program they want to go to the NBA and make rap albums.

We need a young, fresh recruiter. Lebo's dad is a nice man, but he looks like the Sam the Butcher from the Brady Bunch. I can picture him riding kids around listening to Lawrence Welk albums telling kids he knew Adolph Rupp.

If Lebo goes who do we get? Have you heard what Lebo is making? I am surprised we dont just pay him in Blue Bagel gift cards. There is no big name that is coming here and if they did we would bend over and take it on the pay check.

So do we embrace our current inferiority or do we step off the ledge and go bold. MMMM, to me it all depends on who is writing the check.

Kudos to Lebo for running a clean program and not putting up with crap. Ellis won but his program was so dirty the television show "Cops" used to film their practices.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hoopie's "Beating Deceased Equine" again:

Notice that both guys mentioned that AU is a football school first and we don't have a basketball culture. Just the fact that we need a facility to drum up interest speaks volumes that we don't have many real BBall fans. If we had the fans, recruiting would be much better regardless of anything else. Good players want to go where they are BMOC.

One of our closest couple friends are Clemson grads. These folks actually take vacation for the first Thursday/Friday of March Madness and host a continual party. These folks regularly drive 2+ hours to Clemson for mid-week basketball games. These folks are interested in football, but are insane about BBall. These folks are part of a BBall culture. BTW, Clemson also fills their football stadium.

If AU Basketball fans really want to put a good team on the court up. Be there regardless of the facilities, coach or the win-loss record. That's what my Clemson friends have done since they graduated 25 years ago.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Who is The Realist and why should I care?

9:12 AM  
Blogger Norm said...

Here I'm is!

9:24 AM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

New thread UPZ.

9:26 AM  
Blogger chip chip said...

if it was all about the x's & o's lebo stays. if it is about the jimmys and joes, gubye. i know we can find a coach as good at the x&o part as lebo that can market and pump interest in the program which reportedly is where lebo is severely lacking. call u-haul now mr lebo and thanks for what you did for AU. (kind of)

9:30 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

Good question, Monsieur Tate. I have no idea about who, but the health of our 5* QB is the answer to why

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:52 AM  

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