The Wire

  • Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election

    Excerpt:

    With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

    North Alabama has spoken.
    When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

    Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

  • On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born

    Excerpt:

    Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

    Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

    Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

3 months ago

VIDEO: Auburn’s Gus Malzahn gives command to start engines at Talladega

(Screenshot/FOX)

TALLADEGA — This isn’t Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn’s first time as one of the honorees of Talladega Superspeedway’s marquee spring event, but it was the first time he said “the most famous words in motorsports.”

Malzahn had grand marshal duties for Sunday’s Geico 500 got to give the command for NASCAR drivers competing that day to start their engines.

“It’s an honor to be back,” Malzahn said in a pre-race press conference. “In 2014, I had a great experience at my first NASCAR event, to be able to drive the pace car — great memories with that. Just glad to be back to kick this thing off.”

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“I like being here, and I like meeting the guys,” he added. “I don’t have one particular guy but I got a chance to meet quite a few of them last time.”

Malzahn also addressed the 11 Auburn players that were either drafted or signed as free agents with NFL teams over the past few days.

“Very excited for our four guys that were drafted,” he said. “We got seven that signed free-agent deals, too, that I think will have an excellent chance to play at the next level.”

(Jeff Poor/YHN)

“It’s really unique for me to see professionals that are the best at what they do and just sit back and watch, and kind of be a fan and see how they go about their business,” he said. “And now, have a chance to be able to get here, enjoy it and really understand it.”

Malzahn also spoke about Auburn starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, and gave an optimistic report.

“He could have went in A-Day,” said Malzahn. “As soon as we get back from the break, he’ll be ready to go.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

8 months ago

Quin Hillyer: Malzahn’s odyssey shows state’s harmful tribalism and absurd football over-reactions

 

Hmmm…. So… Remember back, wow, a six-week lifetime ago, when so many Alabamans were calling for the guillotined head of Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn?

Don’t they look rather silly now that Auburn is in the SEC title game and very much alive for the national championship?

No, this isn’t a sports column, although I started my career as a sportswriter and remain an avid sports fan. And this isn’t a piece intended to show how so many people were such bad judges of coaching talent. Instead, this is a comment on a culture that puts far, far too much emphasis on football, and that over-reacts, far too quickly, to every change in football fortunes.

There’s still a “Fire Gus Malzahn” home page on Facebook. There’s still the Twitter feed of the same name. Way back in 2016 after just a few games, there already was a fan-led GoFundMe page to fire the coach. There still are the newspaper analyses available online from mid-October about how Malzahn was likely a goner and certainly a mediocrity – as in al.com’s Kevin Scarbinsky writing of Malzahn and Auburn that “There is no winner here. If, by winner, you mean a head coach capable of competing for and capturing championships on the state, conference and national levels.”

Scarbinsky continued: “Four years ago, Malzahn was right there. Now it appears that window has closed and been boarded shut.”

Boarded shut? Really?

Why the rush to judgment only part-way through a season? Why the fan uprisings to fire a coach who as recently as 2013 had brought his team within three points of a national championship, who was offensive coordinator for Auburn when it did win a national championship — and who had never had a losing season as a head coach?

And for those who thought an 8-5 season was an entirely unforgivable sin, was there any consideration of whether this was an 8-5 coach who ran a program with integrity or one who ran a sleazy program? Did a program’s integrity matter at all? How about its success, or not, of actually helping kids get educated? If Malzahn had been 8-5 but his program produced a Rhodes Scholar in three straight years and boasted a graduation rate of more than 80 percent, would his critics have been less vociferous?

Football is loads of fun to watch and debate about and even slightly obsess about. Some of us even think that winning really does matter. But as Managing Editor Rachel Byars wrote over the weekend (in a slightly different context, that of the losers’ post-game funks), there is a “type of tomfoolery that runs rampant in our state” which elevates football wins and losses to a position of outlandish importance.

People agonize over football losses, but they pay only lip service to truly important matters such as education (both at the family level and as public policy), much less macro-problems such as Black Belt poverty. I know of a single small school in New Orleans, for example, that regularly turns out more National Merit semi-finalists than the entire county of Mobile. Yet as someone who has lived in each place for years, I can guarantee that New Orleanians are not naturally smarter than Mobilians.

While it would be foolish to overstate the case — clearly, we must grant that the overall New Orleans education level still lags the national average — the higher achievement levels for at least a subset of the Crescent City is an indicator that more citizens there truly stress educational goals than the percentage who do so here.

It’s not that the obsession with football is mostly to blame for Alabama’s low educational rankings and high poverty rate. But the obsession with football is surely at least a little to blame and, more importantly, is symptomatic of a broader outlook that is largely to blame.

The larger problematic outlook is one of insularity and tribalism. Bragging rights about our tribe outscoring your tribe (whether within the state or between it and others) — or of Alabamans thumbing their noses at outsiders because, well, we kick their butts on the gridiron — take on an outsized importance in our culture.

So when a consistently winning coach oversees one or two early-season losses, well, dontcha know he should be fired and tarred and feathered? That’ll learn him, but good, now won’t it?

That attitude is absurd. We can do better than this. We can show more patience, at least until a season’s end. We can consider other factors in the mix, such as arrest records (bad) or graduation rates (good), or a host of others.

There’s nothing wrong with yelling “ROLL TIDE!” or “WAR EAGLE!” There’s nothing wrong with loving football and caring who wins the games. But there’s everything wrong with over-reacting and over-emphasizing football, to the detriment of, well, everything else.

Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017.

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8 months ago

Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn may not like the GOP tax plan (but you might)

With a most unconventional president in the White House, the current tax plan being considered in Washington is appropriately unconventional as well.

For Alabama, the plan is a mixed bag that is likely to please some but satisfy few.

College football – the sport that is synonymous with Alabama to most of the country – is strangely in the crosshairs with this tax plan.

A proposal in the plan would eliminate a deduction of 80 percent to college athletic departments for the option to purchase game tickets and obtain preferred parking, among other services. If enacted, the provision could fundamentally alter the economics of big-time college athletics.

“Some of these provisions are certainly problematic for robust athletic programs,” said Clay Ryan, the vice chancellor for governmental affairs at the University of Alabama System.

Booster programs like Tide Pride and Blazer Boosters support many non-revenue generating sports, Ryan explained. If the government alters the way they receive tax-deductible contributions, then these sports could see less financial support in the future.

Moreover, many are Title IX programs that have provided opportunity to thousands of female athletes.

The president of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities, which includes Auburn University, also expressed his concern about the overall bill in a letter to Congressional leadership.

Another provision could directly affect the salaries of highly paid college coaches.

It would assess a 20 percent excise tax on nonprofit organizations, to be applied on salaries of those making $1 million or more.

In other words, it could cost universities millions more to compensate coaches like Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn.

Rather than causing these coaches to give up vacation homes, however, at worst the plan would likely cause the universities to employ more creative methods to pay for coaches of their revenue-generating sports.

For the rest of us making less than seven or eight figures annually, the plan should be somewhat kinder.

Low to middle-income married couples with children would see their standard deduction almost doubled to $24,400. While that sounds great, the proposal would also take away the dependent exemption, which is currently at $4,050 for each dependent.

The best selling point of the plan – according to its advocates, anyway – is a significantly lower corporate tax rate.

In a state like Alabama that has already been on an economic upswing, the lower rate could mean further corporate investment in the state and the jobs that would come with it.

Then again, all of the above is subject to negotiation in the horse-trading that is common on Capitol Hill.

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9 months ago

College Football Preview: Auburn vs. Arkansas

The Auburn Tigers are set to travel to Fayetteville to face off against the Arkansas Razorbacks this Saturday. The next SEC match-up for the Tigers is set to be broadcast on the SEC Network at 6:30 p.m.

Auburn is coming off a devastating loss at the hands of LSU in Baton Rouge. Just as the Tigers appeared to be the dark horse candidate in the SEC West with a shot at the playoff, their dreams went out the door as the offense struggled to produce anything in the second half of the 27-23 loss to LSU. It isn’t all over for the Tigers. If they win out, a 10-2 Auburn would be in prime position to appear in the SEC championship and nab a spot in the playoff. However, that won’t be easy, with SEC foes Georgia and Alabama lurking at the end of the road in November.

First, the Tigers have to make it through Arkansas. The Razorbacks’ dreams of a successful season were crushed nearly before the season began. Last week, Bret Bielema and his team were devoured by Alabama in a 41-9 pummeling. With starting quarterback Austin Allen still out with a shoulder injury, backup QB Cole Kelley is stuck running the Arkansas offense for now. Kelley struggled to get much going against the Crimson Tide last week, throwing for 200 yards with just one touchdown and an interception.

While there’s a small chance Allen could return this week, any Razorbacks offense will have a hard time against the aggressive Auburn defense. LSU managed to find holes in the Auburn defense last week, racking up big plays with their signature jet sweeps and exploiting Auburn’s secondary for a few downfield passes. However, if the Auburn defense that held Clemson to just 281 yards and two touchdowns shows up, it will be lights out for the Arkansas offense.

Auburn should bounce back in this game, but it will depend on which team shows up. If both sides of the ball show up and play like they have against Missouri, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss, then Auburn should have another SEC win in the books. However, if the same effort and play calling that the Tigers brought to LSU is repeated, Arkansas may give Auburn and Gus Malzahn a run for their money.

Auburn vs. Arkansas Prediction

Auburn – 35

Arkansas – 13

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9 months ago

Auburn Receiver Kyle Davis Dismissed from Program

Photo from Kyle Davis's Twitter account
Photo from Kyle Davis’s Twitter account

Kyle Davis has been dismissed from the Auburn football team after a year and a half long career on the plains. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn made the announcement on Tuesday. “I just want to let everybody know that Kyle Davis has been dismissed from our team for breaking team rules,” Malzahn said. “We wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

According to The Plainsman, Davis missed Auburn’s entire spring practice for “personal reasons” and was suspended for the Tigers’ season opener against Georgia Southern. He was again suspended Saturday, as the sophomore did not play in Auburn’s 27-23 loss at the hands of LSU.

Davis is the third player to leave the Auburn team this season. Backup quarterback Sean White was dismissed after his arrest for public intoxication, while junior defensive lineman Byron Cowart transferred from the program.

“Any time as a head coach a player has to be dismissed, that hurts,” Malzahn said. “Every situation is different. We have a lot of great kids on this team and any time that happens it’s another opportunity for someone else. That’s just how I look at it.”

Davis finished his Auburn career with 19 catches for 458 yards and two touchdowns. He had seven catches for 210 yards this season.

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9 months ago

Jake Pratt, Alabama’s Viral Football Player, Makes Recruiting Stop in Auburn

Courtesy of Amy Hyde (Facebook)

Jake Pratt, the Vestavia Hills High School senior with Down Syndrome who went viral after his touchdown run in the preseason game against Briarwood Christian is getting even more national attention. Just weeks after being invited to Death Valley to meet Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Pratt was invited to take a recruiting trip to Jordan-Hare and spend a Saturday on the plains.

Pratt got the opportunity to meet head coach Gus Malzahn, quarterback Jarret Stidham, and Pratt’s favorite player, running back Kerryon Johnson. In an interview with WBRC‘s Sheldon Haygood, Pratt said that Johnson was his favorite player because he carries the ball like he does. Malzahn even invited him to come carry the ball for the Tigers next season.

Pratt has stolen the hearts of football fans across the country. His love and dedication for the game is inspiring, and the love that coaches like Gus Malzahn and Dabo Swinney have shown Pratt is amazing.

Check out Sheldon Haygood’s interview with Jake in Jordan-Hare below:

Jake Pratt

Vestavia Hills Jake Pratt visiting Auburn today

Posted by Sheldon Haygood WBRC on Saturday, October 7, 2017

RELATED: Vestavia Hills Down Syndrome Player Welcomed by Dabo Swinney

RELATED: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Moment in an Alabama High School Football Game

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10 months ago

College Football Preview: Auburn vs. Ole Miss

Courtesy of Auburn Football and Ole Miss Football (Facebook)

With week six of college football rolling in, the landscape of the 2017 season is starting to take shape. Alabama and Clemson are undoubtedly still the best, and everyone else is playing catch up. Perhaps the more interesting races are happening within respective conferences, and the race in the SEC West could be shaping up to be a doozy. Alabama and Auburn are currently tied for first place in the West, and with the Tigers looking better and better each week, the Iron Bowl may prove to be a winner takes all ticket to the SEC Championship – and maybe the playoff??

That’s getting a little ahead of the game though, for now, the Tigers are set to face off against Ole Miss in an early game in Jordan-Hare Saturday. The game is set to broadcast on the SEC Network at 11 a.m.

Auburn is coming off back-to-back dominating performances against two SEC foes. The Tigers handed it to Missouri in a 51-14 offensive show, and whooped up on Mississippi State last week in a 49-10 victory. The Tigers’ offense has continued to improve each game, and shows no sign of slowing down. Jarret Stidham completed 13 of 16 passes for 264 yards, including a few bombs downfield that would devastate any defense. Kerryon Johnson racked up three touchdowns on the night, and took off for some long plays himself, including a 59 yard sprint on the third play of the game. The defense continues to match Stidham and company in quality of play. The stalwart Tiger D has not given up more than 14 points all season.

Ole Miss is coming off of an embarrassing 66-3 loss at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Granted the Rebels were up against arguably the best team in college football, a loss like that is demoralizing all the same. The Rebels hadn’t been doing that terribly to start the season. Quarterback Shae Patterson was cranking up 400 yards per game through the air. However, his weakness was ball control, giving up three interceptions in the loss to Cal.

So who will win Saturday? Auburn. Definitely Auburn. The Tigers are hot, and until they face a more well-rounded opponent, they don’t seem to be slowing down. While Patterson may be a threat in the air, Ole Miss has an abysmal running attack, averaging just 74 yards per game. With just three sacks on the season, the Rebels don’t have anything that resembles a pass rush and have been worse in defending the ground game. Kerryon Johnson and Jarret Stidham should have a field day against the Land Shark Defense, while Auburn’s defense should have no problem controlling Patterson and the Rebel offense.

Auburn vs. Ole Miss Prediction

Auburn – 47

Ole Miss – 13

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10 months ago

College Football Preview: Auburn vs. Mercer

Auburn enters the third week of college football with its homecoming game Saturday afternoon. The Tigers will face the Mercer Bears and hope to have an opportunity to work out the kinks that were exposed against Clemson last week.

Auburn suffered its first lost of the season to the No. 3 Clemson Tigers, with one of its worst offensive performances in the Gus Malzahn-era. Jarret Stidham and the Auburn offense were held to just 117 total yards as the offensive line was decimated, allowing 11 sacks. The highlight of the game for the Tigers was Auburn’s defense, which put up another impressive performance against the top-rated Clemson offense. Carlton Davis racked up 11 tackles, and led the defense collectively to three sacks and two recovered fumbles. However, despite a valiant defensive performance and controlling the time of possession for the game, Auburn simply could not score, and suffered another devastating loss to Clemson 14-6.

Mercer also heads into its third week of play after suffering a heartbreaking loss. The Bears came up short against Wofford in their first conference game of the season, losing 28-27. According to Mercer Athletics, QB Kaelen Riley managed 167 passing yards and two touchdowns. However, that success was marred by three game changing interceptions. Only three Mercer receivers pulled in receptions in the loss. Avery Ward led the squad with seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. Despite an impressive goal line stand by the Bears late in the game, Wofford managed to rally for a late touchdown to come out on top.

The No. 15 Auburn Tigers look to find their groove again this week as they are back home in Jordan-Hare. The offense has one last chance to get its act together before the Tigers begin a seven week long run at SEC play, starting with Missouri on September 23. Kickoff for the homecoming game against Mercer is set for 3 p.m.

Auburn vs. Mercer Prediction

Auburn – 38

Mercer – 10

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11 months ago

Jarret Stidham Named Auburn’s Starting QB

Jarret Stidham. Courtesy of auburntigers.com
Jarret Stidham. Courtesy of auburntigers.com

Gus Malzahn officially named Jarret Stidham as the Auburn Tigers’ starting quarterback on Monday. Stidham, a transfer student from Baylor, has been the frontrunner for the job ever since the Tigers signed him on in the spring. Coach Malzahn tweeted the announcement to the fans on Monday saying, “The team is excited for Jarret and ready for the season!”

Stidham went head to head with veteran quarterback Sean White during fall camp. White started 10 games last season, but was plagued with injuries including a broken arm he suffered in the Sugar Bowl. Despite these injuries, according to CBS Sports White was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the SEC last year. When playing his best, White showed that he has what it takes to move the ball and prevent turnovers. However, Stidham brings something to the offense that White simply can’t: the duel threat.

Despite only starting three games in his 2015 season with Baylor, Stidham threw for 934 yards and six touchdowns. He also ran for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. Despite transferring to JUCO after his freshman season at Baylor and taking a break from football, Stidham has picked up right where he left off. He has proven that he is quick and agile – he runs a 4.6(40) according to ESPN – and should be the perfect addition to Gus Malzahn’s offense. The Tigers attempted to create the same dual threat last season by rotating White, Jeremy Johnson, and John Franklin III, but that plan quickly proved futile, ultimately contributing to a close loss to Clemson early in the season. Stidham provides Auburn’s offense with the full package to start the season.

RELATED: PREVIEW: Auburn vs. Clemson

Auburn seems to be primed for a successful season ahead of them. With a strong leader on offense and a defense that is ready to improve on a successful last season, the Tigers may show that they have what it takes to rise above the ranks in the SEC West. Such a climb could make the Iron Bowl another eventful showdown in Jordan-Hare.

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12 months ago

Alabama’s Voted King of the Hill While Auburn’s Well-Respected by College Coaches

The first preseason college football poll was released today, and Division One coaches from across the nation have voted Alabama in the #1 spot, once again placing the Tide as the game’s most dominant force in the country.

For all of Alabama’s hard-earned and well-deserved prestige, college coaches from around the nation also made it known that Auburn is expected to be a force to be reckoned with in 2017, ranking the at Tigers 13th.

The Amway Coaches’ Poll is the first preseason ranking, and it reminds us that the glorious gridiron Saturday’s are only four short weeks away. USA Today Sports sponsors the Amway on the poll, explained that it’s a coaches’ poll made up of 65 leading FBC coaches. As USA Today reported, “Each coach submits a Top 25 with a first-place vote worth 25 points, second place 24, and so on down to one point for 25th.”

Alabama’s opening day opponent, Florida State, was voted 3rd in the country while several of Alabama and Auburn’s SEC foes made the elite group, with LSU coming in at 12, Georgia at 15, Florida at 16, and Tennessee at 24.

The 65 voting coaches who voted in the poll dropped reigning national champs Clemson down to number 5, while Ohio State (who lost to Clemson 31-0 in the playoff semifinal last season) is ranked 2nd, and Washington (who lost to ‘Bama 24-7 in the playoff semifinal) was voted into 7th place.

Fall camp started this week for most college football programs, with one major difference that’s a departure from a decades-long tradition—the infamous two-a-day practices are now a thing of the past.

However these teams spend the next month preparing, there’s little doubt that Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide will be more than ready to square off against the Seminoles in exactly 30 days. Likewise, Gus Malzahn’s Tigers will be equally eager to mix it up with their twin-brothers up I-85 at Clemson a week later in their first real test of the 2017 campaign.

Stay tuned. College football is almost here!!

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1 year ago

Saban and Malzahn Appointed to SEC Committee to Address Recruiting Issues

Auburn football coach Gus Malzhan and Alabama football coach Nick Saban
Auburn football coach Gus Malzhan and Alabama football coach Nick Saban

HOOVER, Ala. — Auburn Tigers Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn and Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban will serve alongside two other SEC coaches and two athletic directors on a committee that will help the conference deal with numerous recruiting issues. Specifically, they will deal with the fallout of the NCAA’s latest rule changes.

“Really it’s saying that we have concerns about the new recruiting package that was adopted and you’ve probably read and heard of those concerns by our football coaches,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said at SEC Media Days this week.

Other committee members include Missouri coach Barry Odom, Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, Florida AD Scott Stricklin, and Arkansas AD Jeff Long. Some of the NCAA rule changes the committee will address include new dates for national signing day, heightened summer camp regulations, and the restrictions on schools hiring “people close to a prospective student-athlete” for two years before and after that student’s enrollment at the school.

The latter rule change has struck coaches as unfair to future colleagues working to make it into the college ranks. “It’s a death sentence to any high school coach wanting to coach college (football),” Malzahn told the Montgomery Advertiser. “It’s not fair.”

Saban has been equally critical of the new rules and stated that they make it tough on student athletes who typically relied on having coaches help them out with summer camps. He also feels that NCAA is working to “close loopholes” that have helped his teams over the years.

Both Alabama and Auburn have big matchups at the beginning of the season. The Crimson Tide takes on Florida State in Atlanta in the opening weekend’s marquee matchup, while Auburn takes on reigning national champion Clemson in week two.

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1 year ago

The NCAA just created a rule bad enough that Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn BOTH strongly oppose it

Auburn football coach Gus Malzhan and Alabama football coach Nick Saban
Auburn football coach Gus Malzhan and Alabama football coach Nick Saban

Following Alabama’s second scrimmage of its 2017 spring football camp, Alabama head coach Nick Saban answered questions from reporters on a variety of topics. One question concerned a rule that was just passed by the NCAA about programs being allowed to hire a 10th assistant coach. Heretofore, nine has been the limit for on-field assistants at Division I college football programs.

In typical Saban fashion, he decided to redirect the conversation to address some who have commented on the size of coaching staffs in college football.

After affirming that he supports the decision to allow a 10th assistant, he said, “All these people who complain about staff sizes, we pay interns a very small amount of money. You would be shocked at how cheap the labor really is. Almost, like, criminal. And we have administrators complaining about how many cheap labor people you have trying to promote the profession and develop the game. How else do you develop guys?”

Saban went on to draw attention to a new rule restricting the hiring of high school coaches by Division I programs. He also brought up a rule that requires former players to be no more than seven years removed from graduating to be eligible for graduate assistant positions.

The basic point Saban is making is that without these positions, which are clearly not well compensated, many young coaches would not find opportunities to break into the profession. He decries the rule about not hiring high school coaches as being against the growth and development of the game of football.

He finished with this shot at other head coaches, “I guess it’s the paranoia that we all have that someone else is doing something. Everybody else is allowed to do it, but you choose not to do it. Just like when I used to go on the road in the spring. Everybody could have gone on the road in the spring. Urban Meyer (Ohio State’s head coach) and I were the only two that went out every day. Everybody else complained about it, but they could’ve done it. It wasn’t against the rules. So, they just don’t want to work?”

Saban is not alone in his criticism of the new ‘high school rule.’ Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, who began his career as a high school coach, said it could be a “death sentence” for some coaches. Georgia head coach (and former Alabama defensive coordinator under Saban) Kirby Smart also voiced his opposition to it, adding that he is the son of a high school coach.

Saban has been to the mountaintop of his profession on multiple occasions. He started as a graduate assistant at Kent State. With very few exceptions, coaches begin their careers as high school coaches, graduate assistants, analysts, interns, and other entry-level positions. Five-time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick started as a special assistant for the Baltimore Colts in 1975.

If such staff rules are being implemented simply to stop the coaches at the top of the profession, such as Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, it is very shortsighted. At some point these coaches will retire. This rule could keep many quality high school coaches from breaking into the business at the college level, impacting the growth of the game for years to come. It truly is a rule that harms the grassroots of college football.

You know the rule must be a bad one to get Saban and Malzahn to line up in solidarity opposing it.

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2 years ago

The top ten Iron Bowl games of all time

2010 Iron Bowl in Bryant-Denny Stadium

2010 Iron Bowl in Bryant-Denny Stadium
2010 Iron Bowl in Bryant-Denny Stadium

The Iron Bowl is a rivalry unlike any other in sports. It divides families to the core, as cries of “Roll Tide” and “War Eagle” are more likely to incite hostility at the Thanksgiving table than discussions of politics. For the past six years, the winner of the game has gone on to represent the SEC in BCS National Championship or the College Football playoff – a run unprecedented for a single state.

Alabama and Auburn combine for a total of 18 national titles, 33 SEC titles, 5 Heisman Trophies, and countless NFL draft picks. The all time series between the two teams is fairly even at 44-35-1 in favor of the Crimson Tide, currently on a two-game winning streak.

As with any series, some games are more memorable than others. But the Iron Bowl seems to give viewers across the country a good game more often than not, even when the rankings indicate it should not be. For all these reasons, the sports analysis website SB Nation dubbed the game “College Football’s Perfect Rivalry.”

In the interest in preventing anymore division, this top ten list is broken up into two separate top fives: a list of the five best Crimson Tide victories and a list of the Tigers’ best five wins.

Alabama Crimson Tide

1. 1985: Alabama 25 – Auburn 23, “The Kick”
Ray Perkins’ unranked Tide upset Pat Dye’s #7 Tigers at Legion Field in the 50th edition of the Iron Bowl. Earlier in the game, Alabama kicker Van Tiffin missed a 52 yard field goal, but he redeemed himself by nailing the game-winner from the same distance as time expired.

2. 2014: Alabama 55 – Auburn 44, “The Revenge Game”
With a trip to the first-ever College Football Playoff on the line, #1 Alabama first needed to defeat #15 Auburn a year after the painful ‘Kick-Six’ kept the team out of the BCS Title Game. In the highest scoring Iron Bowl ever, Tide quarterback Blake Sims and wide-receiver Amari Cooper helped the team overcome a 33-21 mid third-quarter deficit to avenge 2013’s loss on the plains.

3. 2009: Alabama 26 – Auburn 21, “The Drive”
#2 Alabama went to Jordan-Hare hoping to keep its undefeated season alive and got all it could handle from unranked Auburn. Down a point halfway through the fourth quarter, Tide quarterback Greg McElroy led his team on a game-winning 15-play, 79 yard touchdown drive en route to a BCS National Championship Title.

4. 1967: Alabama 7 – Auburn 3, “The Run in the Mud”
Heavy thunderstorms made the first night game in the series a nasty, low-scoring affair that was frequently stopped by officials to clear debris flying from the stands onto the field. Late in the game, Alabama quarterback Ken “The Snake” Stabler scrambled 47 yards through the mud for the contest’s sole touchdown.

5. 1984: Alabama 17 – Auburn 15, “Wrong Way, Bo”
Down just two points in the fourth quarter, Auburn head coach Pat Dye opted to go for it on fourth down from Alabama’s one yard line. The Tigers’ play was a designed pitch to running back Brent Fullwood, but Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson ran to the wrong end of the formation, allowing the Tide to easily make the tackle and seal the victory.

Auburn Tigers

1. 2013: Auburn 34 – Alabama 28, “The Kick-Six”
In the highest combined team ranking Iron Bowl of all time, the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide visited the #4 Auburn Tigers looking to lock-up a third-straight trip to the BCS Title Game. The Tigers had other plans, playing the Tide to a draw with one second left. Alabama Coach Nick Saban opted to go for the 57 yard field goal as time expired, but Adam Griffith’s kick was returned 109 yards for the game-winning touchdown by Auburn’s Chris Davis in one of the most improbable moments in sports’ history.

2. 2010: Auburn 28 – Alabama 27, “The Camback”
With the undefeated #2 Tigers coming to town, the two-loss Tide played like they had nothing to lose. In front of a raucous Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd, Alabama built a solid 24-0 halftime lead. But the second half belonged to Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, who led Auburn on a 28-3 run en route to Auburn’s second national championship.

3. 1972: Auburn 17 – Alabama 16, “Punt, Bama, Punt”
Down 16-3 in the fourth quarter, things looked pretty bleak for the anemic Auburn Tigers. But things quickly turned around for the underdogs, as the Tigers’ special teams blocked not one, but two Tide punts and returned them both for touchdowns. The scores completed #9 Auburn’s upset over Coach Bryant’s #2 Alabama team, who was favored by 14 points.

4. 1982: Auburn 23 – Alabama 22, “Bo Over the Top”
In Paul “Bear” Bryant’s last Iron Bowl, the legendary coach looked to defend a nine-game winning streak over his in-state rival. Up six with two minutes left, the streak looked secure, but the Tigers methodically drove the length of the field. Auburn capped the drive with victory touchdown scored by running back Bo Jackson, who scaled the Alabama defensive line with a herculean leap.

5. 2005: Auburn 28 – Alabama 18, “Honk If You Sacked Brodie”
Auburn may have scored 28 points, but it was the Tiger defense that stole the show. AU set a school record by sacking Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle 11 times, with seven different Tigers recording at least one half-sack.

The 2016 edition of the Iron Bowl will be played in Bryant Denny Stadium and broadcasted by CBS at 2:30 p.m. local time.

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2 years ago

Alabama Secretary of State observes Russian elections, deploys sports celebs to boost voting at home

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, right, on the job as an observer in Russia's parliamentary elections. (John Merrill)
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, right, on the job as an observer in Russia's parliamentary elections. (John Merrill)
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, right, on the job as an observer in Russia’s parliamentary elections. (John Merrill)

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has been pulling double-duty on elections of late.

Last Sunday he served as an international observer for Russia’s parliamentary elections. Next week, his office will unveil its latest celebrity public service announcement designed to encourage Alabamians to register and vote in November, featuring “The Round Mound of Rebound,” retired NBA superstar and television personality Charles Barkley.

Merrill observed the election process in the southern Russian city of Volgograd. The Russian national election – to select members of the Duma, the 450-seat lower house of Parliament – was a landslide victory for President Vladimir Putin’s United Russian party.

“We had unfiltered, unbridled access and could walk in unannounced. There were no incidents I saw where people were heavily influenced to support one party or candidate over another.”

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Merrill said he observed various precincts, and watched later that night at a central location where votes were tallied.

One polling location “was a two-room schoolhouse with no running water and no indoor toilets,” Merrill said.

“The thing most interesting to me overall was I saw some of the most extravagant living environments I have ever been exposed to in my life. And I saw some of the most disadvantaged environments I’ve been exposed to in all my life.”

Merrill said he was the only elected official among the 50 or so American election observers. Why?

“It was a lot of work,” he surmised.

From the time he started observing at 7 a.m. until the next day’s follow-up surveys, Merrill said he worked 23 hours with a four-hour sleep break.

Sports figures and voting

Merrill’s office next week will launch new televised public service announcements and posters urging Alabamians to register to vote and bring a photo ID to the polls. The latest spot features Barkley, the former Auburn University and pro basketball star and current analyst for TNT’s studio show “Inside the NBA” with Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal and host Ernie Johnson.

A recently released video spot by Merrill’s office enlisted Tuscaloosa native and current WBC heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder.

Last year, Merrill’s office tagged University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban and Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn to promote voter registration “because they’re the most recognizable people in Alabama,” Merrill said.

“This year, we wanted a couple of native Alabamians who can help us that are easily recognizable. One is the heavyweight champion of the world and the other is Charles Barkley.”

Merrill said the state had 2.8 million registered voters when he took office in January 2015, and now is just shy of 3.2 million.

“We’ve registered more voters in the last 18 months than we have in the history of the state of Alabama, and we have the highest number of registered voters in the history of Alabama,” he said.

Merrill said he didn’t know how much of the increase to attribute to using popular sports celebrities to get attention.

“I really don’t care whether it’s that, or the fact you can now register electronically or when you get your driver’s license or get it renewed,” Merrill said. “My goal is to ensure every eligible U.S. citizen who is an Alabama resident is registered to vote and has a valid photo ID.”

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2 years ago

Auburn football star beat cancer. Next up: The NFL

Shon Coleman at the NFL Scouting Combine Press Conference
Shon Coleman at the NFL Scouting Combine Press Conference
Shon Coleman at the NFL Scouting Combine Press Conference

Shon Coleman has not had your average football career. If things had gone his way, he would have started his career at Auburn in the fall of 2010. In an alternate universe, Shon Coleman earned a National Championship ring that year and rubbed elbows with Cam Newton.

Instead, Coleman was diagnosed with acute lymphocyte leukemia in the spring of 2010 and never made it to Auburn that fall. Coleman’s type of cancer, in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, affected 1 in 415 males younger than 49 years old from 2010-2012. Over 3,500 cases are expected this year alone.

Coleman spent the fall of 2010 in Memphis instead of Auburn. For two-and-a-half years he received treatment at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis. He was finally cleared to play for Auburn in 2012, but he redshirted that season to take the time to get back into football shape. He officially joined the Tigers as a backup left tackle in 2013. The first day back with the full team was a special day for Coleman.

“It was great, man just being out there again with my teammates, just getting back in that football atmosphere,” he said. “I’ll never forget that day, very exciting.”

The 6’6, 307-pound offensive tackle took the field in Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time on September 7, 2013 against the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Auburn easily won that game 38-9. That year, Gus Malzahn’s first as Auburn’s head coach, the Tigers went all the way to Pasadena for the final BCS National Championship, where they lost to Florida State.

Over the next two seasons, Coleman started 25 games for the Tigers, and in 2015 he was voted second team All-SEC. He completed his bachelor’s degree in May 2014 and his master’s in December 2015. Although he still had one final year of eligibility, Coleman decided to shoot for the NFL.

Unfortunately a torn ACL prevented him from participating in the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine, and Auburn’s pro day.

“It was something I was looking forward to, I really believe I’m one of the more athletic big men out here and for me not to be able to show that it’s very frustrating,” Coleman said. “But at the same time I have a plan to come back and get everything ready.”

Even without getting to show off, his talent and success at Auburn made Coleman attractive to many scouts. SB Nation ranked him as the 8th best player at his position and the 69th overall prospect for the Draft.

The Cleveland Browns picked Coleman in the third round of the NFL Draft (76th overall) last week, making Shon’s NFL dream a reality.

Shon celebrated by spending the day with cancer patients at St. Jude’s. He wanted to show the kids battling cancer that they can win their fight and be successful.

“It was big-time for me to go back and reach out to kids and let kids see that moment,” he said. “That’s big in their lives, and to just let them know that they can always chase their dreams.”

Now Coleman faces a new challenge: to get in NFL-shape and fight to be a starter for the Cleveland Browns. But Shon knows that his experiences have given him the drive to overcome any obstacle.

“It has taught me to be patient and whatever opportunity gets thrown my way, take it and run with it,” he explained. “That’s what I did last year. I had the opportunity to come in and be a great player at Auburn, and I took it upon myself to work every day, to work at this and work at that just to perfect my crafts.”

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2 years ago

The virtual reality system Auburn football is using could revolutionize sports training

The virtual reality training program called STRIVR – Sports Training in Virtual Reality – could be a game changer.
The virtual reality training program called STRIVR – Sports Training in Virtual Reality – could be a game changer.
The virtual reality training program called STRIVR – Sports Training in Virtual Reality – could be a game changer.

The Auburn Tigers are one of a small number of college football teams that are currently using a potentially game-changing virtual reality training program called STRIVR – Sports Training in Virtual Reality.

Derek Belch, a former Stanford kicker and Graduate Assistant Coach created STRIVR, which combines real film with wearable technology. It gives football players a previously unattainable 360-degree view of the field. STRIVR uses video filmed by six GoPro cameras stationed either by the inside linebackers or right beside the quarterback. This would give players the unique opportunity to review game film from the same vantage point they had on the field.

Belch first tested STRIVR at Stanford, which used the technology before each of their final three games in the 2014 football season. STRIVR helped the Cardinals win their three best games of the season, ending in a bowl game victory over Maryland. Stanford Head Coach David Shaw called the product “game-changing” and told Belch, “You can stay here and you’ll be a great coach. But I think you’re really on to something here. If I were you, I’d put everything I had into this.”

Belch took Shaw’s advice and began recruiting more teams to use STRIVR. One of the first college teams to use STRIVR was Clemson, which helped open the door to more top-tier programs.

Auburn was one of the original teams to help Belch pioneer this technology. The Tigers started using STRIVR in the summer of 2015. “When a team like this steps in, it speaks volumes about the legitimacy of it,” said Belch. The STRIVR team gave coach Gus Malzahn a demonstration last spring, and he immediately jumped on board.

Along with Clemson, Auburn was able to test STRIVR and use it as a competitive advantage both on the field and off the field. It can be a major recruiting tool for prospects.

Malzahn praised STRIVR, saying, “It’s as close to a practice rep as possible.” Indeed, even second and third-string players can get reps and experience without getting physical reps on the field. The virtual reality can benefit both offense and defense as well.

STRIVR now works with 14 football teams, including three SEC schools – Auburn, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt, as well as six NFL teams – including the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys. Belch has also started discussing using this technology for basketball, baseball, and hockey.

Arizona Cardinals back-up quarterback Drew Stanton explained the significance of this new technology, saying, “It’s easy to sit there and watch film like all of us have in the past and say, ‘OK, this is what I would’ve done. But when you’re actually at eye level and seeing everything else around you, it’s such an impressive tool from the point you can’t simulate it any other way.”

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3 years ago

Alabama and Auburn head football coaches set to kick off state voter registration efforts

Nick Saban informing Alabamians to register to vote (youtube)
Nick Saban urging Alabamians to register to vote
Nick Saban urging Alabamians to register to vote

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has recruited University of Alabama and Auburn University coaches Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn to help kick off voter registration and identification efforts in the state. The two head coaches will appear in videos played on jumbotrons in Bryant-Denny and Jordan-Hare Stadiums during games this season in hopes of spreading the word and importance of voter registration.

“Our goal is to encourage involvement within the electoral process,” said Secretary Merrill. “We want every person who is eligible to vote, as a citizen of Alabama, to have the privilege to do so.”

Since June 3, 2014, to participate in an election, a citizen must be registered to vote and present a valid form of photo ID at their polling place.

The relatively new law was rooted in a Republican campaign promise in 2010, the year that the party took control of the State House for the first time Reconstruction. It passed in 2011 and first went into use during 2014’s primary season.

According to the law, any of the following documents qualify as a valid voter ID:

• Driver’s license
• Alabama photo voter ID card
• State issued ID (any state)
• Federal issued ID or US passport
• Employee ID from Federal Government, State of Alabama, County, Municipality, Board, or other entity of this state
• Student or employee ID from a public or private college or university in the State of Alabama (including postgraduate technical or professional schools)
• Military ID
• Tribal ID

To receive a free photo I.D. from the state applicants must show they are a registered voter and bring one either a birth certificate, marriage record, Social Security Administration document, hospital or nursing home record, Medicare or Medicaid document, or an official school record or transcript.

The Yellowhammer State will join Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia to hold its presidential primary election on March 1st of next year in the so-called “SEC Primary.”

The informational videos encourage citizens to contact their Local Board of Registrars, visit alabamavotes.org, or call 1-800-274-8683 to make sure they’re ready for the next elections

Check out videos set to play in Bryant-Denny and Jordan-Hare stadiums below.


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3 years ago

(video) Bo Jackson and Gus Malzahn clean up at charity golf event

Bo Jackson lines for a drive at the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge. (Photo via YouTube)

Bo Jackson lines for a drive at the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge. (Photo via YouTube)
Bo Jackson lines for a drive at the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge. (Photo via YouTube)

Bo Jackson is a 51-year-old former football player with a hip replacement, but he is still one of the greatest athletes of all time.

The former Auburn Tiger and Heisman Trophy winner took to the links on Monday and won the long-drive competition at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge in Reynolds Plantation outside Atlanta.

Jackson crushed a 331.5-yard drive, and was 13 yards clear of his nearest competitor, Jon Barry of Georgia Tech. Bo’s drive is well under the longest drive of 2015 in the PGA Tour — Geoff Ogilvy has that title at 409 yards — but he would still be above the tour average of 280-yard drives.

His playing partner, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, took home the closest to the pin title with a shot 7-feet, 9-inches away from the hole. Malzahn also came in third in the coaches long drive competition, losing to Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez.

Both Jackson and Malzahn will also join other celebrities playing in the upcoming Regions Tradition Pro-Am on Wednesday, May 13 at Birmingham’s Shoal Creek.

Here is Jackson getting angry at a golf ball and then acting like he does that every time, followed by Malzahn being very surprised at his close shot. With these wins, the Auburn duo took home $5,000 for their charities.

[AL.com]

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3 years ago

Malzahn officially names Jeremy Johnson Auburn’s starting quarterback

Jeremy Johnson will be Auburn's starting QB in 2015. (Photo via Auburn Athletics)

Jeremy Johnson will be Auburn's starting QB in 2015. (Photo via Auburn Athletics)
Jeremy Johnson will be Auburn’s starting QB in 2015. (Photo via Auburn Athletics)

AUBURN, Ala.–It’s far from surprising, but Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson has officially been named the team’s starter going into the fall.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn announced the decision on Twitter on Monday afternoon.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Johnson is tasked with replacing outgoing quarterback Nick Marshall, who led the Tigers to an SEC Championship and a berth in the final BCS title game. Johnson has been Marshall’s backup for two seasons now and will finally get his chance to start full-time.

During his time at Auburn, Johnson has completed 57-of-78 passes for 858 yards and nine touchdowns. He started and played the first half of last year’s Arkansas game while Marshall was serving a half-game suspension.

This decision means the quarterback competition between Johnson and Sean White is over, and the decision to go with Johnson makes the most sense. He’s the only quarterback on the roster who has thrown a pass in a college football game.

Johnson completed 14-of-22 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns on A-Day, and didn’t play in the second half of the game.

While Alabama and many other programs around the country still have a blank space next to their No. 1 QB spot on the depth chart, Auburn has its quarterback locked in.

Auburn opens its season on Saturday, Sept. 5 against Louisville in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

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3 years ago

AU has out-rushed every SEC school by at least 2k yards since 2013, hopes to continue tear

(Photo via Auburn Athletics)

Roc Thomas could be Auburn's starting running back in 2015. (Photo via Auburn Athletics)
Roc Thomas could be Auburn’s starting running back in 2015. (Photo via Auburn Athletics)

Gus Malzahn has been the head coach of Auburn for two seasons, and his rushing attack has been a key part of his team’s success.

According to running backs coach Tim Horton, Auburn has rushed for 7,917 yards in the past two seasons, an eye-popping 2,097 yards more than any other SEC team.

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Auburn led the SEC in rushing yards per game in 2013 and 2014. It led the SEC in total rushing yards in both years, and was No. 1 in the nation in rushing in 2013.

This is partly due to Malzahn’s offensive schemes, but also due to NFL-caliber rushers. Running back Tre Mason led the SEC in rushing in 2013 and was invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. Last year, Cameron Artis-Payne led the SEC in rushing with 1,608 yards.

Like other successful college football programs, Auburn is now tasked with replacing prolific players as they leave for the NFL. Mason recently finished his first season with the St. Louis Rams, Artis-Payne is headed to the NFL Draft, and Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall — another key weapon in the team’s rushing attack — is trying to make an NFL roster at his old position of cornerback.

Even with the departure of Marshall and Artis-Payne, Auburn’s rushing attack shouldn’t take a step back in 2015. The Tigers return running backs Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber, but that position won’t be without competition from incoming players. During the summer, Auburn adds junior college transfer Jovon Robinson and Alabama’s “Mr. Football” Kerryon Johnson to its depth at the position.

Johnson was the No. 1 ranked player in the state of Alabama by 247 Sports, and Robinson was the top-ranked junior college player in the country on 247 Sports in 2014.

Even with Thomas and Barber returning, all of these players could step into the backfield right away for the Tigers.

Auburn will finish its Spring practice in the A-Day Spring game on Saturday, April 18 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. and tickets are $5.

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3 years ago

What to watch for as Auburn begins 2015 spring football practice

Auburn University head football coach Gus Malzahn addresses his team during practice (Photo: YouTube)
Auburn University head football coach Gus Malzahn addresses his team during practice (Photo: YouTube)

With the Tigers set to begin spring practice Tuesday, here are a few things to look for as Gus Malzahn and co. begin to develop the 2015 version of Auburn football.

Key Returning Players


Duke Williams – 45 receptions, 730 yards, 5 TD.
Williams led the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns in 2014. At 6’2″ 216 pounds, he is a physical receiver with the potential to be selected early in next year’s NFL draft. When healthy, Williams is a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses, and will only improve going into his senior season.

Shon Coleman – Started at Left Tackle in 2014.
Coleman was a big-time recruit coming out of Olive Branch, Mississippi. He was solid in 2014 — his first year as a starter — and could develop into an elite LT in his junior campaign.

Cassanova McKinzy – Lead the team in TFL in 2014, and recorded 91 total tackles.
McKinzy has room to improve at inside linebacker, but he has shown the potential to be a force for the Auburn defense.

Jonathan Jones – 6 INT’s and 11 pass break ups in 2014. 2nd team All SEC CB.
Jones was a surprise breakout player on the 2014 Auburn defense. He should be among the elite corners in the SEC as a senior in 2015.

Carl Lawson – Did not play due to injury in 2014.
Lawson’s preseason injury was a major blow to the Tiger’s defense last season. The former 5 star recruit will return in 2015 and will provide a major boost to the defense. When healthy, Lawson is one of the elite defensive line talents in all of college football.

What To Watch For


Under center, Jeremy Johnson enters the spring as Nick Marshall’s heir apparent, but the pro-style quarterback will be pushed by backups Sean White and Jason Smith. Johnson has assumed a leadership role during the offseason, organizing voluntary workouts with receivers to prepare them for a new look to Malzahn’s hurry-up, no-huddle offense.

With the Tigers expected to focus more on the passing game in 2015, Johnson’s development will be perhaps the most important part of the spring for Auburn’s offense.

Barring injury, the Tigers’ stable of running backs is full of thoroughbreds.

Roc Thomas showed signs of being a big-time running back during his freshman season in 2014. Jovon Robinson is an elite junior college transfer and early enrollee that will likely make a huge impact as a ball carrier this season. Peyton Barber may be a little under the radar compared to the other two, but the redshirt freshman is also very talented and will compete for a role in the backfield.

The Tigers are in good shape on the offensive line heading into spring, returning 3 starters, and getting All-America hopeful Alex Kozan back from a weightlifting injury that sidelined him all of last season. However, the competition for the open spots will be wide open.

The most exciting aspect of spring football for Auburn fans this season could be the arrival of new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. The competition is expected to be intense at every spot on defense. Auburn returns six starters from a year ago, but has several spots to be filled in the two-deep scheme.

Muschamp’s tenure at Florida was underwhelming, but he is unquestionably one of the college game’s top defensive minds. He’ll have his work cut out for him. The SEC West will once again be stacked, with Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Arkansas all ranked in the top 10 of the Preseason FPI.

Auburn begins practice Tuesday, and will practice each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday leading up to the spring game on April 18, with a pause for spring break March 22nd through the 28th.

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3 years ago

Southeastern Conference announces schedule for 2015 SEC Media Days

SEC Media Days at The Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, July 17, 2014. (Photo: Bill Wilson)
SEC Media Days at The Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, July 17, 2014. (Photo: Bill Wilson)
SEC Media Days at The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, July 17, 2014. (Photo: Bill Wilson)

Spring football is on its way, but the most exciting college football happening in the month of July was just announced by the Southeastern Conference.

For a second consecutive year, the recently expanded SEC Media Days will take place for four days from July 13-16 at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.

The annual conference pits thousands of media members against coaches and players and gives sports information departments an excuse to print media guides. It also lets every coach say how excited he is about his team in the fall — every coach is excited about his team — and, perhaps most importantly, gives South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier a live, nationally broadcasted microphone to say whatever he wants.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban highlights Day 3 of the proceedings, while Auburn head coach and newly minted Florida head coach Jim McElwain will get the ball rolling on Day 1, along with the incoming SEC Commissioner, who has yet to be named. Current commissioner Mike Slive, who has served in that role since 2002, is set to retire in July.

More information, like which players will accompany their coaches to the Wynfrey, will be announced later, but the entire event will be covered by the SEC Network and many other television outlets.

Here is the full schedule of coaches:

Monday, July 13
SEC Commissioner
Auburn – Gus Malzahn
Florida – Jim McElwain
Vanderbilt – Derek Mason

Tuesday, July 14
SEC Coordinator of Football Officials Steve Shaw
South Carolina – Steve Spurrier
Texas A&M – Kevin Sumlin
Miss. State – Dan Mullen
Tennessee – Butch Jones

Wednesday, July 15
Alabama – Nick Saban
Kentucky – Mark Stoops
Arkansas – Bret Bielema
Missouri – Gary Pinkel

Thursday, July 16
LSU – Les Miles
Georgia – Mark Richt
Ole Miss – Hugh Freeze

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3 years ago

Top 10 recruiting class has Auburn looking tough on both sides of the ball

Auburn coaches celebrate the signing of Byron Cowart. (Photo via Auburn Athletics)

Auburn coaches celebrate the signing of Byron Cowart. (Photo via Auburn Athletics)
Auburn coaches celebrate the signing of Byron Cowart. (Photo via Auburn Athletics)

Going into Wednesday’s National Signing Day, it was unclear how much the arrival of new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp would boost recruiting, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but that question was answered quickly with the decision of one player.

The Tigers nabbed the nation’s No. 1 overall high school player, defensive end Byron Cowart, to headline the No. 6 overall recruiting class. Auburn also picked up at least three undecided prospects Wednesday, including four-star wide receiver Ryan Davis and four-star linebacker Jeffrey Holland, who both chose Auburn over Florida.

Muschamp, along with new defensive coaches and recruiters like Florida’s Travaris Robinson — or “T-Rob” — and Alabama’s Lance Thompson, made a strong, final push for Auburn’s signing day success.

The Tigers signed a total of 27 players in its 2015 class that is comprised of one five-star (Cowart) and 20 four-star recruits, according to 247Sports’ composite ranking. Eight players already had enrolled early at the school and the remaining recruits will be on campus sometime this summer. Auburn signed eight players from Alabama — one more than did the Crimson Tide — and signed the state’s top prospect, or “Mr. Football,” (Kerryon Johnson) for the third consecutive season. The Tigers also signed 10 players from the neighboring state of Georgia.

After finishing with an 8-5 record in 2014, the new season already has a more positive outlook for the Tigers.

Auburn is obviously known for its prowess on offense under Malzahn’s system. But with the defensive staff the school has assembled, and the new talent it brought in to pair with returning players like defensive lineman Carl Lawson, Auburn’s going to be tough on both sides of the ball in 2015.

Here is the entire recruiting class on a chart via 247Sports.

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3 years ago

Arms race escalates: Auburn adding biggest video scoreboard in all of college football

In the SEC stadium competition, the arms race is never-ending.

Schools add seats to be just that much bigger than their rivals, luxury boxes and special perks are enhanced, and the stadium experience is hopefully improved by doing so.

Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium seats a little over 87,000 people, ranking it behind Texas A&M, LSU, Alabama, Tennessee and others for the largest stadium in the country. But the Auburn Board of Trustees is meeting Friday — according to school documents — to approve or deny a plan that will give Jordan-Hare Stadium the largest video scoreboard in college football.

The reported 200-foot behemoth will tower over the stadium’s south end zone and would surpass any rival screen, including Texas A&M’s 47 by 163 foot screen and Arkansas’ 38 by 166 foot video scoreboard.

Here is a digital rendering from Break Orbit Studios of the proposed screen compared to Auburn’s current screen and Texas A&M’s.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.52.16 PM

And here’s the view of the proposed screen from the north end zone, also from Break Orbit Studios.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.53.40 PM

Other improvements to Jordan-Hare Stadium are in the works, but the creation of this gigantic screen is the first item up for discussion and is projected to cost a total of $13.9 million.

[H/t War Eagle Reader]

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