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Schedule update/Looking at: AU @ MSU

Hey everyone.

So the difficult times are upon us. The Advertiser's parent company, Gannett, has mandated that I take a one-week (unpaid) furlough beginning Sunday morning. I know. It sucks.

I am prohibited from posting here during the one-week (unpaid) furlough, so it'll be up to you to make the HABOTN interesting and informative. I know you can do it. You have done it three times before.

I hate that I cannot be here. It's 100 miles out of my hands.

I've got the Montgomery Academy-Lafayette game this afternoon and my church's Father-Daughter dance tonight, so there won't be much Auburn stuff to share.

Here's the box for tonight's Auburn-MSU game:

Auburn at Mississippi State

When: Today, 6 p.m.

Where: Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Miss.

Records: Auburn (12-12, 3-6); Mississippi State (17-7, 5-4)

On the air: TV — FSN; Radio — WMSP-AM 740, WLWI-FM 92.3

Probable starting lineups:
PG Dewayne Reed (6-1, 175), 15.8 ppg.
G Frankie Sullivan (6-1, 195), 13.3 ppg.
G Tay Waller (6-2, 193), 13.1 ppg.
F Lucas Hargrove (6-6, 220), 13.7 ppg
F Johnnie Lett (6-8, 210), 2.3 ppg.

PG Dee Bost (6-2, 170), 11.2 ppg.
SG Barry Stewart (6-3, 170), 11.4 ppg.
G/F Ravern Johnson (6-7, 175), 14.1 ppg.
F Kodi Augustus (6-8, 220), 8.9 ppg.
F/C Jarvis Varnado (6-9, 230), 13.4 ppg.

Notes: Auburn beat Georgia 82-63 on Wednesday night and now has one two of its last three games … Mississippi State is 10-1 at home this season … Varnado has blocked 120 shots this season and has 510 for his career … ``You have to be careful how you attack him. If you try to go around him and not through him, he will alter it or block it," coach Jeff Lebo said … Auburn has out-rebounded MSU only once during the past 17 meetings … Hargrove ranks among the SEC's top 10 in rebounding average (7.3), shooting percentage (50.2) and steals per game (1.5).

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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

Radio Appearance Forthcoming

Hey everyone. I will be participating in my weekly segment on SuperSport 930 out of Jackson, Miss., in a bit. That extravaganza will begin around 9:07 a.m. CST.

We will discuss Auburn ... and other stuff.

Be there or be rectangular.

All we have are the embers

In this spot earlier today was a TWO HOUR Video Campfire®.

We discussed Auburn's 2010 signing class, broke that down fully, discussed the 2008 class, broke that down fully, talked about baseball, basketball, Clete Thomas, Auburn baseball never making the SEC Tournament, old media passes.

I'm not able to track UStream viewers like I can here, but special kudos to our top contributors: THT, Scottie, Cincy, Scott C., Sean, E-Bro, Luv, bigdaddy334, chipchip, clayburn, ckeenan, missinit, AWK, Freep, bellefay.

Thanks for participating!

Gettin' caught up

Hey everyone. We have a few items to discuss.

If you're interested in why Auburn basketball beat Georgia like a drum last night, you may learn the secret via my story in today's editions of the Montgomery Advertiser. It's free of charge. (Note my excellent lead paragraphs.)

If you're interested in a "proper" story about Aairon Savage, you also may read that. It's free of charge. Comments from former Auburn offensive lineman (and current NFL millionaire) Ben Grubbs of Eclectic, Ala., are included for your reading pleasure.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We will be holding our second Video Campfire® this afternoon beginning officially at 3 p.m. CST. The pre-party starts around 2:45 as I fumble with the equipment. Please attend and ask me questions. That makes me a happy HOTTIE.

Have a nice day.

Live bloggin': UGA @ AU

In this spot was a live blog that lasted the duration of Auburn's 82-63 win against Georgia.

Now it's gone. Such is life.

Thanks to those who went the distance:
THT (first arrival), Kathy, Cincy, AUFan365, Digger and newcomer Jack.

It was my pleasure to serve you.

Aairon Savage speaks

Hey everyone. Defensive back Aairon Savage, who has missed the past two seasons because of two disparate injuries, spent some time talking with the media today.

He recently was granted a (rare) sixth season of eligibility from the NCAA.

Savage is in a good mood.

I'll have quotes up in a bit. Until then, here is the basic theme.

  • He feels blessed to have this final chance to play.

  • He speaks often with Jerraud Powers and Willis McGahee, who have provided steadfast encouragement. McGahee? Former Auburn lineman Ben Grubbs thought McGahee could provide some insight, so he got McGahee in contact with Savage.

  • He claims to be 100 percent healthy. "I can do everything."

  • He said his position remains in question. Savage is fine with cornerback or safety.

  • He will participate fully in spring drills.

  • He was recruited by Gene Chizik out of high school ... when Chizik was Auburn's defensive coordinator.

  • He tore his Achilles last summer. Less than a week before, the topic in his kinesiology class was Achilles injuries.

  • On gaining perspective: ``Losing two seasons, that's hard too. Very frustrating. I don't know why everything happens, but everything happens for a reason. I've learned a lot about myself, a lot about the people that I've had around me. I had a very strong support system from (my girlfriend) Shannon, my mom, my family, the guys here, just everybody. Community, it's a very good support system."

  • On his mental approach: ``I just took it one day at a time, try not to look too far ahead. I had a lot of long nights, a lot of long nights. I tried not to think it was over. It's kind of hard to let it go. Just one day at a time, one night at a time. And here we are now."

  • On how some teammates are significantly younger now: ``That's the beauty about it. It's kind of like music. It's something that can bring anybody together and it's something that everybody enjoys. It's just a love and a passion that won't go away."

  • On what Willis McGahee said: ``We were doing some of the same things that McGahee was doing already. We incorporated a few more things. He just told me to keep working at it because it will come back. Don’t give up."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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

Gene Chizik speaks

Hey everyone. I intercepted Your Head Coach, in a matter of speaking, at the Montgomery Quarterback Club's awards banquet earlier this evening.

I spent a few minutes with Gene Chizik and asked him some stuff.

I didn't have enough time to get a flow going -- he was a very popular guy at the country club -- but you're the HOTTIES and I don't want to default on my promises.

So here are my questions and his answers.

Q: Do you worry about the pressure on Cam Newton, considering he's a five-star guy whom some people see as a savior?
"I don't worry about the pressure on Cam because he's been there and done that. He knows that winning the job requires a mixture of hard work and studying -- a lot of it on his own. He's a guy who is older. He understands all that. I don't worry about him. The guys who come along at that position understand that it's all part of the deal. I don't think he's an exception to that at all. It comes with the territory."

Q: Does it give him an advantage by being kind of forgotten or overlooked in the past? He's had to fight his way back, right?
"To some extent, yes, and he's hungry. He's focused. I don't think that gives him an advantage over the guys who were on campus because they're the same way. None of them started a game last year. Some of them have age and experience under their belt; some more than others. It doesn't hurt him that he's been there and done that."

Q: Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper were rated among the nation's top 20 recruiters by on Monday. Is that an odd thing to see as a coach considering how important recruiting is to your entire staff?

"That's great for them. It's a recognition they deserve. They're very good at what they do. With that said, we recruit as a team. We recruit as a village. That's how we do it. If some guys get isolated for what they do, they get some awards, that's great. At the end of the day, everybody on your staff knows it's a team deal. They all carry their weight in different ways."

Q: Is there a different feel at these club meetings now? Can you sense a different level of anticipation or enthusiasm from the supporters?
"I think they're excited. I want them to be excited. I want them to be realistic about where the program is versus where we're headed. They need to understand that this is a work in progress. I want them to be excited about the future. That's good because I think the future is very bright."

Q: Auburn landed a commitment the day after Signing Day and again this weekend. Is the landscape and timetable of recruiting changing as dramatically as it seems?
"There's no off time anymore. It's a 24-7 deal, 365 days per year and it never stops. If we're not communicating with a recruit and building that relationship, someone else is. Across the country, there's a little bit of this early-commitment thing going on everywhere and it was certainly that way when we were at Texas. We were kind of out in front of everybody at that point. They haven't slowed down in that regard. I think a lot of people have caught up to that or at least closed the gap."

Q: Was that something Mack Brown was pushing on you all?
``I don't know that he was pushing it. We just wanted to get commitments when the commitment was ready to pull the trigger. Some of those kids know early. If they're ready, let's get it finished. That was the thought. It's got to be the right time. It's not something that should be rushed."

Two Auburn assistants earn praise

Hey everyone. gave Auburn very high marks during the National Signing Day Sweepstakes, deeming coach Gene Chizik's class as the nation's fourth best.

Not too shabby. on Monday recognized two assistants, Trooper Taylor and Curis Luper, as two of the nation's best recruiters.

Here's what the popular recruiting site had to say:

Luper landed two five-star prospects for the Tigers: junior college QB Cameron Newton and RB prospect Michael Dyer from Arkansas. He also helped the Tigers with Louisiana four-star athlete Trovon Reed. Three-star offensive tackle Ed Christian was also Luper's responsibility. Luper was also the primary mastermind behind "Tiger Prowl" and "Big Cat Weekend." Those two recruiting events helped create a great buzz for Auburn.

Taylor had a big year for the Tigers. He went to Mississippi and landed five-star offensive line prospect Shon Coleman. Taylor went to Louisiana to sign four-star athlete Trovon Reed. Taylor helped Auburn get a big one on Signing Day with four-star defensive end Corey Lemonier. Taylor also got three from Georgia: four-star wide receiver Antonio Goodwin, three-star defensive back Demetruce McNeal and athlete Shaun Kitchens. Four-star defensive end Joel Bonomolo is a junior college transfer from California. Taylor also landed a big in-state commitment in four-star wide receiver Jeremy Richardson. Seven of Taylor's eight prospects were from out of state.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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

Looking back at: Auburn's 2010 signing class

Hey everyone. I know -- it seems like yesterday when Auburn signed those 27 newcomers to its 2010 Recruiting Class.

I took a few days to consider what happened last Wednesday. Since it's pointless to argue about the prospects -- Mike Dyer might bust and LaDarious Phillips might be the next Brandon Jacobs -- I took a slightly different approach.

I examined Gene Chizik's verifiable victories.

Along with that story was a report card. If you sense cognitive dissonance between my column's premise and the mere existence of an Auburn report card, well, you'll have to figure that out on your own ...

A- Auburn signed and enrolled the nation's top junior-college quarterback in Cam Newton. He becomes the heir apparent to Chris Todd and gives fans immediate hope for the 2010 season.

Running back

A- Ben Tate is headed to the NFL and Auburn turned that into a perfect marketing plan. Michael Dyer, whom many believe was the nation's top tailback recruit, will play a meaningful role this fall.

Wide receivers/tight ends
A Auburn needs depth here and it came through, signing four wideouts and at least one tight end. Three of the wideouts are blue-chip guys.

Offensive line
A+ Here's another position where Auburn struggled to fill the two-deep last fall. The Tigers signed six offensive linemen. Three of them were blue-chip guys including Shon Coleman, who was a five-star recruit.

Defensive line
A Tackle was an area of primary concern and coach Gene Chizik snagged two big, impact guys in Kenneth Carter and Jeffrey Whitaker. I really like end Corey Lemonier as well.

B+ This may have been the Tigers' biggest need. The team signed four guys. The linebacker I like best, LaDarius Owens, may play defensive end. We'll have to see how the other three develop.

Defensive backs
B Auburn snatched safety Ryan Smith from Kentucky at the last minute. He's a difference-maker. I also consider safety Demetruce McNeal a good one. Two of the three cornerbacks are in the midst of position changes.

B Chizik was aggressive here, signing kicker Cody Parkey and punter Steven Clark. Parkey was awful in the Under Armour game. Clark's numbers were pretty good.

The HABOTN® Super Bowl thread

Hey everyone. Let's watch the big game and talk about it.

Sounds like fun.

Extra attention will be placed upon Indianapolis CB Jerraud Powers, who would have won the EAABWAA Good Guy Award had it been real prior to 2009. He played at Auburn.

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