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The Samurai's Heart by Walt Mussell

The Samurai's Heart

by Walt Mussell

Giveaway ends January 08, 2018.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Season's Greetings



Wishing everyone the best for this Happy Holiday season. Hope you like the picture. I had hoped to post a short Three Little Pigs Christmas video as well, a video that one of my readers sent, but couldn't get it to work. In the video, the wolf tries to blow down the brick house, but can't. So, like in the story, he climbs up to the chimney and tries to get in that way. However, the pigs hear the wolf on the roof and prepare a boiling part of water for him in the fire. The wolf comes down the chimney. The pigs trap him in the pot and put a lid on it.

In the video, the pigs take the lid off and bag of toys floats to the surface.

Oh, well. Probably wouldn't have been good idea anyway in case the kids saw it.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

An Auburn Christmas



A good friend of mine sent me this picture and song lyrics. Hope Auburn fans everywhere anjoy it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Writing Introduction

I have recently had the pleasure of meeting several local writers in the Atlanta area. Several of them are published authors. The others want to be. Admittedly, their writing appeals more to females than males. (The books target the female market, which represent between 60%-80% of the book-buying market, depending on the stats one reads.) However, there are some books that males would find interesting as well.

While I have time, I plan on adding links to the writers I have gotten to know, as well as featuring books that might interest both genders. The first book is The Color of Light by Karen White. When I asked Karen which book of hers she would recommend, she named this one as it’s the only book of hers that her husband liked. I have just started reading it and there’s more action in the first four pages than there is in four quarters of Auburn offense.

I Should Have Known

The minute I mention the women's b-ball team, the #14 Lady Tigers fall to the #12 Texas A&M Lady Aggies. They have four more games before opening the SEC season at Tennessee. (Wow! What a place to open conference play.)

On a football note, Rich Rodriguez has left WVU to take the position at Michigan. This could affect the make-up of the team that Auburn faces when it travels to Morgantown next fall. It should be noted that Rodriguez turned down the Alabama job last year. This also puts to rest any rumors that Miles might leave after the BCS Championship game.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

And The Women Are Doing Well

It’s not like there hasn’t been a lot going on at Auburn these days. However, by day, I approve commercial lending facilities and there has been a lot going on trying to close sales by year-end.

Auburn’s been busy, too.

We got a Peach Bowl (ok, Chick-fil-A Bowl) invitation to play Clemson on December 31st. It should be great match up. We have a home-and-home match-up with the other orange and blue Tigers in 2010 and 2011.

Al Borges has resigned as offensive coordinator. Admittedly, the offense hasn’t worked that well at times for the last two years. Still, Coach Borges should be remembered fondly for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, where it seemed his style of offense flourished. The lack of big-play receivers, like we had in 2004 and 2005, seemed to hamper Borges’ play-calling abilities. Despite this, Borges made Jason Campbell into a first round draft pick.

In addition, for the play that many of us will ever forget, it was Borges who put in the flea-flicker that we saw executed to perfection against Arkansas in 2004.

So, to Al, best wishes. If I knew you, you’d be on my Christmas card list because you’re a class act.

Enter Tony Franklin.

Borges’ replacement from Troy State looks to be a good choice. He took Troy from the bottom on the nation in offense to #17 in the nation. Troy and Auburn had three common opponents this year: Florida, Arkansas, and Georgia. And Troy put up almost twice as many points on those two teams as Auburn did. (Yes, I know, Auburn went 2-1 against those teams, while Troy, I think, went 0-3.) Still, this new coach brings excitement…and I don’t mean like the excitement we experience in a close game.

But there’s goings-on outside of football at Auburn. B-ball season has started. The men are 4-2. Expecting to contend with all five starters returning, they have struggled with injuries and suspensions. Still, there is much hope for Jeff Lebo’s Tigers.

The women are on fire!

Coach Nell Fortner has the Lady Tigers out to a 9-0 start and a Top 20 ranking. Victories include a win over ranked Arizona State team. Still, the SEC schedule, the toughest conference in the nation for women’s basketball (or any other sport) awaits.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Littlest Actor

Every Christmas Eve, my wife and I take our sons to the children’s service at our church. The service includes a kids’ pageant and our boys seem to pay closer attention than they do during the typical church service. Also, we feel that attending Mass on Christmas Eve provides a wonderful way to begin the holiday. After the service is over, we go out to dinner to the one place open on Christmas Eve, a Chinese restaurant.

While my wife and I believe every family Christmas is special, we cannot conceive that any will be more memorable than our last one. It was to be a big night as our older son, Andrew, was finally old enough to participate in the Christmas pageant. He enjoyed two rehearsals and getting into costume, admirably playing the role of a shepherd. Because church seating at Christmas is limited and we wanted to take pictures, we arrived almost an hour early to get a seat up front. We knew it would be difficult to keep our pre-school age son, Christopher, seated for the long service and the time before it. Therefore, my wife saved our seats while I played with Christopher and kept him entertained. When it was close to time, I corralled him and took him to our seats; he sat on my wife’s lap and anxiously looked for his older brother and the start of the show.

Just before the beginning of the pageant, the stuffy air in the crowded church became a little more unbearable than usual. As there were several babies in the immediate vicinity, my wife and I both thought one of them must have needed changing. Catching the odor, Christopher said aloud, “What’s that smell?” He turned around, looked at his Mom, and said, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” We did our best to quiet him down, while the people around us were suppressing their laughter. He continued on, repeating the words, “That’s disgusting! Mommy, you stink! Mommy, go to the bathroom!” Eventually, Christopher quieted down and the pageant began.

After Mass ended, we walked to the car, buckled the kids in, and drove away. On the way to the Chinese restaurant, my wife and I discussed the incident. She realized that the words Christopher used in church were the same ones she had used with him during his potty training. Also, we were convinced one of the babies close to us during the service must have had a poopy diaper or probably just passed gas. We chuckled about it. However, our little guy provided the last laugh. Overhearing the discussion, Christopher, with the smile that only a young child can produce, piped up with one more comment, “Oh, in church? That was me.”

Friday, December 7, 2007

But Will It Work On Al Gore?

It was announced yesterday by MSN’s Slate magazine that scientists are researching ways to limit animal flatulence. (Click here to see the announcement.) The reason is the 50% of greenhouse gas emissions apparently come from animals, meaning that cutting back on driving and limiting fossil fuels doesn’t address the primary driver behind the supposed theory of global warming.

Research is suggesting that kangaroos contain a certain bacteria in their intestines, bacteria that negates the methane issue with flatulence. If this bacteria could be successfully implanted in cows, as well as many other animals known to have these issues, then we could make serious strides towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The following questions do remain though:

#1) Could the science be applied to Nick Saban and Bama Nation?

#2) Could it be used on politicians and blowhard pundits. (Joe Scarborough comes to mind, though he is already covered in Question #1.)

#3) Would such a plan pit the global warming alarmists against those who crusade against genetic enhancements to the food supply? This could create a Civil War in the Sierra Club.

Your thoughts, please.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Speed (part II): The Speed of Disappointment

Max Zorin: Would you prefer stamina…or speed?
James Bond: I think a little bit of both…
- from the movie, A View to a Kill. (They were discussing a business transaction involving a racehorse.)

My son brought home a “D” on a math test last week. He wasn’t happy with himself and thought we might be angry. We weren’t, just disappointed. Andrew is an “A” math student. It’s his best subject. His reading challenges make the word problems difficult, but he can do numerical calculations.

We haven’t always held this view of Andrew’s math abilities. When he first started taking standardized exams, he would test below the scale in reading. Surprisingly, he would test on the scale in math. When I saw the results of Andrew’s first math scores, I insisted that the school add math help to the services he was getting. The exchange surprised both sides:

“But math is one of his strengths!”

“One standard deviation below the norm isn’t a strength for anybody!”

The teachers agreed and math help was added to his services at school. We started working on it more at home. And Andrew started getting better. With the combined efforts he was getting, Andrew improved in all of his subjects. However, he started excelling in math. Testing at the start of this year estimated his abilities somewhere in fifth grade, not bad for a 4th grader.

So, the “D” surprised us. However, what surprised us more were the mistakes he made. Word problems still gave him fits, but he made calculation errors. These troubled us, as we know he can do the work. Andrew knows it, too. This isn’t his first “D” this school year. He brought one home on a previous math test…and he made calculation errors there, too.

Part of the reason for these errors, we feel, is that Andrew has to complete the test in a certain amount of time. He can do the work, but it takes him longer than other kids. In the past, he has gotten extra time on tests. However, the amount of work he is getting in 4th grade dwarfs any year he has had before and we are pushing him to meet the same requirements the other kids are meeting.

So, with him taking a long time to do the tests anyway, he has very little time to check his work. My wife and I are working on that with him, trying to improve his speed. However, we also explaining the need for him to check his work.

A child with special needs, like any other child, has strengths and weaknesses. As parents, you work hard to help them grow with all of them. As I explained earlier, Andrew thought we would be angry. However, we were only disappointed. “Disappointment” is a concept that is difficult for Andrew to grasp, but getting this “D” and seeing our reaction may have finally helped him understand it.

Amazing, though, is the fact that we were disappointed at all. A few years ago, he was one standard deviation below the norm. Now, at least in one subject, we have the luxury of being disappointed when he doesn’t bring home an “A.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Speed (Part I): The Search for Five Miles per Hour

Maverick: I feel the need…

Maverick & Goose together: the need…for speed!
- from the movie, Top Gun.

Recently, I took my sons to a batting cage. (I know. I know. The season’s over, but this is still fun.) Both Andrew and Christopher enjoy this activity as they get to hit real baseballs without us having to go find them in the woods or the yard next door. (They are both good hitters.) It is particularly important to Andrew, though, as he has never played organized baseball before, but is hoping to do so next spring.

Team sports, though, have always been a problem for Andrew. With my older son’s challenges, he has difficulty adjusting to the speed of a team sport. He has played both organized basketball and organized soccer. In both sports, the kids outrun him. In soccer, this means he has difficulty with challenges from kids. Playing basketball, Andrew has trouble handling some of the quick passes on offense. On defense, he can occasionally make steals or get rebounds and then run down the court, trying for a quick lay-up on a fast break. The farthest he ever gets is the top of the key before some kid on the other team catches up with him.

In baseball, the biggest speed challenge is hitting. At the batting cage, I asked the proprietor how fast the pitches would be for Andrew’s age group (age 10). “Around 45 miles per hour,” he said. So, with Andrew up to the plate, I started slow. I took it to 35 mph and he was fine. I inched it higher and he could still get wood (okay, aluminum) on it. Then, I cranked it up to 40; it was foul balls, some fair, but a lot of good contact. He even hit a beautiful line drive. Unfortunately, for me, I had to barehand it when I realized Christopher had moved from behind the protective screen to better see his brother.

Then I cranked it above 40. He got a few foul balls, as he did his best to make contact.

At 45 mph, Andrew was unable to catch up with it.

Part of me was very happy. I was thinking only five more mph to get up to speed. However, part of me was also sad in that I know that he is past the age where every kid gets to play. He is still slow, a trait he inherited from me. Andrew may get on a team, but he will likely be sitting on the bench. Like all kids, he wants to play, but I am afraid it will discourage his interest in baseball. Also, given his speed, even if puts the ball in play, him running the basepath will mimic a lazy day at the park.

Then, though, I have to look at the positives. If he gets a hit, you won’t be able to wipe the smile off his face. Also, he seems very good at judging ball and strikes. He may actually be cognizant enough to draw walks. He won’t swing at bad balls that I pitch to him at home or bad ones in the cage. When he watches the Braves, Andrew focuses on every pitch. I have watched him strongly argue what he thinks are “incorrect” calls by the umpire. The biggest positive, though, is that he wants to play. And I want him to know the joy of playing baseball.

Therefore, I need to take him back to the batting cage to help him improve his bat speed. Additionally, we will also work at home on improving his fielding skills.

Now, if I only knew how to teach him not to argue with the umpire.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Post-Bama

Sorry for the lateness of this post. I have been visiting family. Also, I have been sick. When I told my wife on Sunday how sick I was, her only response was that I sounded pretty happy on Saturday night.

I guess all of you know the reason.

All of Auburn nation knows the reason.

The winning streak over Alabama has been stretched to six games and we all hope it will continue. The game ended the same way most of the games. Alabama scored to make it within a TD (and possibly a 2-point conversion) and then kicked an onside kick that Auburn recovered and ran out the clock on.

I have two Alabama grads in my office. One doesn’t follow football and has never uttered a nasty word about Auburn. Her, I leave alone. The other Alabama fan in my office does follow football. I thought about saying something. Then I decided to pass by her desk as if it was no big deal. I thought that was funnier.

So what’s in the future?

Tuberville is not going to Texas A&M, though rumors still abound about him taking the Arkansas position.

If you haven’t heard, Houston Nutt has resigned at Arkansas and accepted the position of HC at Ole Miss.

Will Muschamp is being mentioned for many jobs, including the newly open position at Georgia Tech. However, folks believe he will not go to Tech as the fan base could not accept a former Bulldog coaching at Tech.

Rumors still fly about OC Al Borges going elsewhere. Part of that is recognition for a job well done. Other parts of it is speculation about what appears to be a lackluster offense at times.

Congrats to Brandon Cox, the winning-est QB in the SEC. He will make a marvelous coach some day.

Also, Jordan-Hare may be re-named Jerraud Powers Stadium, depending on what course of action Powers will take after being bitten by a police dog. (Yes, I’m kidding.)

Current bowl speculation is the Peach (Chick-Fil-A) Bowl in Atlanta or the Outback Bowl in Tampa. Do we want to finish our season beating up on a Big Ten team or a ACC team?

War Eagle!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Touch of Irony: Owing Saban Thanks

Now, before you look at the headline and think I've lost my mind, please hear me out.

Saban made one of the stupidest comments, if not the stupidest comment, in the history of college football. Asinine does not even begin to describe how inappropriate his statement was.

However, when I first heard it, I did something that, as an Auburn fan, I have a difficult time doing.

I suspended my belief.

As much a I want to believe bad things about Alabama, I could not conceive that the Saban could have uttered what he did. And even after learning that he he had compared Alabama's loss to UL-M to Pearl Harbor and 9-11, I could not conceive that the people who support Alabama could condone such a statement.

So, why would Saban be owed any thanks.

Both sides know he stepped over the line. And in being stupid, he reminded both sides that the Iron Bowl (or the Aluminum Foil Bowl as a favorite columnist of mine referred to it this year) is still JUST a football game.

I despise Alabama! I still want to see Auburn destroy them! I want to start raising fingers on the other hand.

However, for a moment, maybe I despise Alabama a little bit less.

Maybe this weekend, the acrimony both sides feel will be tempered for a change...because some moron reminded us of what is important.

War Damn Eagle!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Must See You-Tube

Check out thee Iron Bowl highlights. You'll be glad you did.

Six years ago

Six years ago, an Alabama team with a new head coach (supposedly reputable) came into Auburn with a 5-6 record, reeling from several embarrassing losses. All that remained was the Iron Bowl (and the LSU game since this was 2001). Win the Iron Bowl and Auburn would finish off Alabama’s catastrophe.

Then Carnell broke his leg in the first quarter. The score was tied 7-7.

Auburn went on to lose 31-7.

As one columnist put it, Auburn had its foot on Alabama’s throat and let it up instead of crushing its windpipe.

Alabama went to a bowl game and finished with a winning season.

This weekend, Alabama comes in with a 6-5 record and a similar situation. While a 6-6 team is technically bowl eligible, this season has more bowl-eligible SEC teams than most. This season, a 6-6 team might find itself sitting at home during the college football postseason. An Auburn win would mean that Alabama’s finishes this season with four straight losses. It could hurt their recruiting if some of Saban’s vaunted incoming signing class changes it mind.

In short, Auburn has its foot on Alabama’s throat. This time, it needs to crush the windpipe.

War Damn Eagle!

Monday, November 19, 2007

It Was The Best of Times

On Saturday night, my family and journeyed over to Stone Mountain for the Stone Mountain Christmas attraction. We were hoping to have a good time.

We had a great time.

We arrived at the Stone Mountain exit around 4:00 p.m. and were immediately greeted with a brilliant display of autumn colors as we drove to the parking lot. The trip improved from there. First things first, we took in the new Polar Express attraction. My younger son, Christopher, enjoyed this one so much he begged to see it again (a wish we granted at the end of the evening).

From the Polar Express, we caught the Park’s own train, for a wonderful 20-minute ride. It was twilight. The waning sunlight had receded enough to make the Christmas-light displays interesting, while the light that remained sufficiently displayed the colors of the surrounding trees.

The parade and dinner quickly followed and both were enjoyable. The red pepper soup with smoked gouda cheese, that I enjoyed, was delicious and quite hot. Parkgoers for the remainder of the year will appreciate it more as the weather gets colder.

And of course, it’s Stone Mountain, which means there’s a Christmas laser show. Actually, there's more than showing, giving attendees several opportunities to see it.

There’s more to do than what I just described. However, a 10-year old and a 5-year old can only last so long. We left, but know we will be back next year.

The attraction lasts through December 30th. If you buy your tickets at Kroger, you can get two dollars off per ticket.

Plan to use cash to eat, unless you’re willing to wait 60-90 minutes for a sit down meal. And if you want to save more money, bring your own meal.

Still, if it’s cold out, the soup is really good and hot.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Auburn 2008 schedule

For those of you that haven’t heard, the Auburn’s 2008 schedule has been put out. Things to note are as follows:

1) We drop Florida and pick up Tennessee.

2) We have only seven games at home this year, instead of the usual eight. This year features the first game of a home-and-home series with West Virginia and we travel to Morgantown in 2008.

3) We pick up a tough non-conference foe in Southern Miss.

4) We have a bye week in October, which will provide a much needed break in the middle of the season. This season, we played 11 straight games without a break. Last season, we played all 12 games without a break.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have scheduled Tennessee Martin.

Oh, I almost forgot, opening day. We open the season against Lousiana-Monroe. The last time we played UL-M was opening day in 2004. At that time, I think the team went by the Indians, but now call themselves the Warhawks.

When they arrive next year, we should greet them with a hearty thanks.

After all, they just beat Alabama.

War Eagle

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Giada’s Pregnant

The other day, my wife says to me, “I have bad news for you. Giada’s pregnant.”

For those of you who are not Food Channel devotees, Giada is Giada De Laurentiis. She has a show called Everyday Italian, which I watch occasionally. She has other shows as well, appears on the Today Show, and has three cookbooks, two of which I have.

She’s so popular that there is a drinking game involving her on college campuses. (No, I am not going to describe it.)

So, my wife, knowing that I am slightly smitten, told me about Giada’s pregnancy as a joke. I knew she was giving me a hard time. No big deal. My wife is smitten with Sting. Unfortunately, the pregnancy joke doesn’t work the other way.

My sister also jokes about my obsession with the Food Channel. I am also a big fan of Rachael Ray. Once, I had Rachel on when my sister dropped by with her kids. My sister looked at my wife and joked, “You’re letting him watch Rachael? Isn’t that like he’s cheating on you?”

Why am I talking about this?

Well, to be honest, I don’t won’t to talk about the AU-UGA game. The outcome was a joke.

But I guess we have to.

When Cox opened with an interception, my first impression was, “Oh, %&!$! He’s having flashbacks to 2006.”

Then Cox seemed to calm down, though we settled for a field goal on our next drive.
Then, it was quickly 17-3, and the 2006 scenario came back to me.

When Auburn made it 20-17 in the 3rd quarter, I thought we had taken control.

When UGA went up 24-20, I thought we were in for a reprise of 2005, last team with the ball wins.

Then the bottom dropped and my stomach with it. I lost count of the number of passes dropped

The final score was worse than last year, though we seemed to be in the game for a longer period of time.

So, the questions I have.

Is UGA to Cox what LSU apparently was to John Vaughn?

Did last year’s game make Cox overfocus and try to do too much, similar to what he did in the first three games of this year?

Does UGA offensive coordinator and play caller Mike Bobo know the thoughts of Will Muschamp too well? (I am not implying anything ill of Muschamp, only that Bobo knows too well how Muschamp thinks.)

Whatever happened, UGA creamed us. They are in a zone and playing extremely well. With them needing a UT loss to make the Championship Game, UGA may be in a similar position to what we were in 2005. In 2005, the general consensus was that we were the best team in conference. However, due to one heart-breaking OT loss in Baton Rouge when the best kicker in the league missed five FGs, we found ourselves on the outside looking in. If UT does lose a game and UGA gets in, then I firmly believe that UGA will beat LSU.

War Eagle Anyway!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank you, Dr. Mussell

Earlier this year, I was dealing with headache that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. The pain was localized to one side of my head, so I knew it wasn’t a typical one. I researched it on-line to see what could cause this type of pain and finally decided it was some type of migraine.

Still, I was tired of having one meal of day be ibuprofen, so I finally went to the doctor and had it checked out. In my meeting, I told the doctor all of my symptoms, as well as what I had found on-line. The doctor looked at me, blew off my self-diagnosis, and jokingly said, “Thank you, Dr. Mussell. Next time, enter the search term, ‘headache unilateral.’ “ One visit to a neurologist and a shot in the back of the head and I was my old self again.

I am not the only one in the family who’s had to visit a neurologist. My older son, Andrew, has been seeing one for a number of years. In the course of all the tests he took back when we were living in Oregon, we discovered that he was having seizures. They were petit mals, seizures we couldn’t see. “Many kids grow out of these as they get older,” the neurologist said. He prescribed Tegretol, a well-known seizure medication.

As Andrew grew, the seizures continued to show up on tests. The doctor increased the level of meds. He had a grand mal once and we took him to the hospital. My wife witnessed it and it scared her. The meds were increased again.

When we moved to Georgia, we had to find a new pediatric neurologist. We got a recommendation from his PCP. The new one ran the same tests as the previous one had. A few months ago, the school called. Andrew had another grand mal during his CRCT. Tests were run. The meds were increased again.

Displeasure with Andrew’s current neurologist led us to look for a new one. The doctor was blowing off concerns my wife and I had about Andrew. (He was also taking calls about his real estate investments during the appointment.) Instead, our PCP sent us to a seizure specialist.

At my son’s first visit, the doctor made a surprising recommendation: take Andrew off the meds. According to the doctor, one in 10 kids has seizure activity. Most of them grow out of it. However, their body has to learn to grow out of it. With Andrew on medication, his body wasn’t learning…and it needed to start doing so. For this doctor, kids shouldn’t be on seizure medication unless they are regularly having them. And while he was convinced that Andrew’s first grand mal was a seizure. The description of the second one that we got from Andrew’s school didn’t meet the definition.

So, we are now happily taking Andrew off medication. It will take about four months, as it can’t be done cold turkey. And the doctor admits that we may have to put him back on the meds in the future. For now, though, he’s going off…and we call it good news.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ebony and Ivory

The talk this week has been different. Most of the time, when there’s a game between Auburn and Georgia, the talk centers around football.

This week…it’s about the clothes.

Georgia is having a blackout this weekend. All the fans, particularly the students, are supposed to come to the game wearing black. In addition, the players will supposedly be wearing black jerseys, instead of their traditional home red. It’s supposed to get the players and fans pumped up the game, in much the same way that the infamous celebration penalty did in the Georgia-Florida game.

There was even a poll this week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution asking about the jersey. Respondents voted 70% to 30% in favor of the black jerseys.

However, amidst all the talk of the black jerseys, people seem to be forgetting about one thing…the white jerseys.

Yes, as it’s a road game, Auburn will be wearing the standard road white.

Auburn is considered a road warrior. For many of the fans, part of the road mystique centers on the white jersey. In the last four seasons, the team has lost only two games on the road. Both were to LSU. LSU wears white at home, forcing Auburn to wear their home blue in Baton Rouge.

In fact, the last time Auburn lost on the road to a team other than LSU was in the 2003 season to Georgia.

So, on the TV broadcast, it’s a lock that everyone will be discussing the home team in black.

Fear the road team in white.

War Damn Eagle!

Time For A BBQ

I have always bee of the opinion that the AU-UGA rivalry is like no other. Most rivals, we can't stand.

On the other hand, Georgia is like family.

Two Auburn coaches, High Nall and Will Muschamp, played at UGA.

Two Georgia coaches, Stacey Searels and Rodney Garner, played at Auburn.

I hate Alabama. I can't stand LSU.

Georgia, on the other hand, is like the cousin who attends a crosstown school. You want to beat them, but you still see them twice a year: Thanksgiving and the summer BBQ.

Philip Marshall of the Huntsville Times has some wonderful articles about the game. My favorite is called Intensity Without Hostility. Click on the article title to be taken to it. Click here to be taken to Marshall's blog.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It was a Good Halloween

“Bring me Andrew’s candy bag.”

My wife uttered these words last Thursday night. We were watching Grey’s Anatomy. The kids were asleep. It was time to do what all parents do…raid their children’s candy.

Admittedly, we didn’t do this with abandon. There are limits when raiding the candy. My older son, Andrew, rarely eats chocolate. My younger son, Christopher, is allergic to peanuts. Therefore, we knew what to pick and choose without upsetting the boys.

So, as we sat there, chowing down, I thought about how the Halloween had gone. Some of the things to note are:

=> The boys had a blast.
=> The weather was great.
=> Christopher got tired 2/3 of the way around the neighborhood and called it a night. Andrew and I made it through the rest.
=> I am proud that my boys, for at least half the night, used driveways and sidewalks to get to people’s doors. I chided them later when they did walk on someone’s lawn. Overhearing, my neighbor replied, “Don’t’ worry about it. With the drought, the grass is dead anyway.”
=> Only three people recognized that I was dressed as Sandman. That’s three more than my wife expected.
=> I did see one other father that had also getten into the spirit of the evening. He was dressed as a mustard bottle. If that was me, my wife would have disowned me.

All in all, it was a wonderful night. A picture is below.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sportswriters

I’ve reached a conclusion recently. Good sportswriters help us feel the drama in re-living big games. Great ones help us feel drama when there’s none there to begin with.

I bring this up as our next opponent, Tennessee Tech, is a team I know absolutely nothing about. Therefore, I’ve had to do research.

They are from the Ohio Valley Conference, an FCS conference. For those of you unfamiliar with the new designations, Auburn is an FBS school, meaning that it plays to go to bowl games at the end of the year (hence the B in FBS). An FCS conference means that there is a Championship playoff.

The Ohio Valley Conference has 10 schools with names you would recognize as bracket busters, such as Murray State and SE Missouri State, from the NCAA tournament. It also has Samford as well as certain directional schools such as Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Illinois. Also notable is Tennessee-Martin, which is rumored to be our opening day opponent next year before traveling to Morgantown to play West Virginia.

The Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech are 4-5 this year with its most notable win being a 45-21 victory over Cumberland. I do not mean this because Cumberland is especially good. I mean this because Cumberland is in the college football history books for the most lopsided loss in college football history. In 1916, Cumberland lost 222-0 to Georgia Tech.

In truth, Cumberland did not have a real football team. From what I have read, they discontinued football the previous season, but played the game in order to fulfill a contractual obligation. Ga. Tech was upset over Cumberland allegedly having used professional baseball players in game against GT the previous season and required Cumberland to either bring a football team or pay the buyout fee of $3,000. (For comparison, between 1910 – 1920, people bought pre-fab houses via mail order. A pre-fab house cost about $1,000 - $1,500.)

So, Cumberland showed up, supposedly with a fraternity football team, and lost. Because of the issue surrounding the baseball game, the GT football coach purposely ran up the score. The coach’s name: John Heisman. (You knew there had to be an Auburn connection in this story somewhere.)

So what does this have to do with anything? I started talking about Tennessee Tech and shifted to a game played over 90 years ago. And that’s the point. In the first quarter, we will be talking about the game. In the second quarter, we will likely be talking about everything but the game. Auburn has already openly announced that the scrubs will see most of the action with Kodi Burns and likely another QB getting nearly all of the snaps. This is being done to rest up the team for Georgia and Alabama. Also, Quentin Groves is being shifted to LB and this will be a glorified practice for him at his new position.

War Damn Eagle!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Video Glossary Now Available

A Video Glossary has just been released jointly by two groups, Autism Speaks and First Signs. The video contains a number of clips the early stages of children that have been diagnosed autistic. It is very informative.

Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics is apparently about to release a report, suggesting that all children should be screened for autism at both 18 months and 24 months. A link to an article about this can be found here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Britney Spears’ Mom To Write Parenting Book

I saw the above headline on Yahoo.com (I think) on Friday evening night and I thought…you’ve got to be kidding me. However, why shouldn’t we doubt Ms. Spears’ qualifications given how her daughter has turned out. Still, because it’s about Britney, I’m certain it will sell many copies, despite the fact that it will be crap.

I bring this up because for the next few weeks, we’re going to be hearing about how Alabama is a better team than Auburn, because they’re still in it while it will take several fortuitous events for Auburn to have a shot at the SEC Championship.

Admittedly, if it comes down to ties in the SEC West, the tie-breakers don’t work in Auburn’s favor. In the last eight years, Auburn has won the SEC West four or five times, I believe. Twice, they’ve been to the Championship Game, because the team won the Division outright. The other times, were tie scenarios, and Auburn lost the tiebreaker.

Auburn doesn’t do well in tiebreakers, it seems.

We’ve never won a tiebreaker for the West Division.
We’re 3-6 in OT.
We were the odd team out in 2004.
We were jumped by Miami in 1983-84, despite having faced 9 Top 20 teams in 12 games and beating 8 of them.

But, honestly, Bama a better team? That’s an even bigger load of crap than book Spears’ Mom is going to write. However, the kool-aid drinkers that support UA-T will buy it and try to shove it down our throats, much the same way Spears’s fans will buy her Mom’s book and the media will try to shove it in our faces.

We’ve had bad luck this year.

But we’re still damn good.

War Damn Eagle!

Taking Time Out For Ourselves

The game vs. Ole Miss is being held at 5:00 p.m. CST. It’s Pay-Per-View. Auburn had a chance to play the game on Lincoln Financial, but opted out, saying that the team had fulfilled its requirement of playing two games this season on Lincoln Financial. Knowing that Auburn fans like a later game, the team chose to play this one on its own schedule for the fans.

Good for Auburn!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Enter Sandman

“I have three kids!”

My wife’s expression looked mixed. She appeared to be both joking and serious as she uttered the above statement. I responded back,

“What’s the problem, honey? Why shouldn’t I dress up for Halloween when I take the boys around the neighborhood?”

My wife looked stunned, but I knew I had a good idea. I would dress up this year when I took our two sons trick-or-treating.

“Why do you want to do this?”

The “why” was easy. Every year, my sons adopt a theme. Three years ago, they were both Power Rangers. Two years ago, Andrew was Obi-Wan Kenobi and Christopher was Darth Vader. Last year, our first in a new neighborhood, they dressed as Batman & Robin.

It was while driving home from work last year on Halloween when I realized I could have assisted the boys in their theme. If the boys were Batman & Robin, then I could go out with them as Alfred. Yet, it was too late to do anything. As much as I enjoyed watching them that evening, I spent most of the evening wishing I could have put together a makeshift butler costume. I resolved that evening in 2006 to participate in the boys’ theme in 2007.

“Who are you planning to be?”

I possessed some ideas about this, but remained unsure of what to do. This year, the boys chose a Spiderman theme. In line with the boy’s favorite move of the year, Spiderman 3, Andrew decided to be bad Spiderman while Christopher decided on good Spiderman. Given their personalities, this was a definite role reversal. My first thoughts were J. Jonah Jameson or Uncle Ben. Neither choice, though, excited my boys. My wife’s response was, “Who?” Andrew came up with a winner, “Daddy, go as Sandman.”

“You don’t have the muscles.”

My wife appeared resigned to my decision, but she made a good point with her comment. We needed to find a costume to make me resemble one of the most popular villains in the Spiderman series. The Sandman character is built like a football player and I don't have the muscles to fit the part. Still, we looked. We found no Sandman costume. However, we did locate a two-tone, wide-striped, short sleeve green shirt, similar to the one worn by the character. I will need change my hairstyle, but it’s worth it.

So, with the costume decided and ready, I now need only wait until next Wednesday. My wife regales people with stories about having three kids, but my boys like the idea and that’s what matters on this day.

Ironically, I am glad I did not consider dressing up with my kids until recently. I would have been in trouble two years ago when the boys did a Stars Wars theme. My wife would have insisted I be Jabba the Hutt.

Post-LSU Hangover

Before the season started, I posted a column about drinking one or two beers for each Auburn game, with the exception of LSU. LSU, I commented, was a four-beer game.

Last Saturday night, I watched the Auburn-LSU game and didn’t chug one beer.

Two days later, however, I still feel like I have a hangover.

I spent most of the game on an even keel, with the traditional up and downs that accompany any Auburn game. I was happy through most of the first half. I worried through the third quarter as LSU ran all over us. When we took the lead with just over three minutes left, I prayed that we would hold on.

The thing troubling me most though wasn’t our defense. It was those #$%& squib kicks. I had watched them all game. I know LSU has dangerous return men, but I felt we were giving up way too much yardage. LSU’s kicker, despite his supposed problems, was already 3 for 3 on the evening.

And then they called that stupid play that resulted in a TD. I couldn’t believe it. My stomach dropped and my even keel was upended. No one in his or her RIGHT mind would call a play like that. And when they scored…I haven’t felt that bad since Georgia hit a TD pass from 4th and goal at the 10 to beat us in 2002.

Aside from that, we still have a lot to be proud of. Auburn played a great game. We were a road underdog for the third time this season. The team played their hearts out. We can argue bad calls by the refs. The illegal formation that was waived off to allow LSU to take a 20-17 lead and one of the worst spots in the world on LSU’s final drive, a spot that turned a 4th and 1 play into a 1st and ten play come to mind. (We need to check the rulebooks. I didn’t realize it was possible to gain yardage by bouncing on the ground.)

With respect to the LSU team, they got it done in the end. We like to think we get over bad calls, though we know we never do. LSU apparently doesn’t either. GameDay visited LSU for the LSU – Virginia Tech this year. There were signs in the crowd complaining about the refs in last year’s Auburn-LSU game.

I could have dealt with losing to LSU if they had hit a game winning field goal, but that play will add another chapter to an annual clash known for the nicknames of its games.

The title of the chapter for this one should be “The Night Stupidity Reigned Supreme.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Streak In Time

It’s been a busy week and, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to post.

During the 1980s, I once heard someone say that Auburn hasn’t won in Death Valley since Gone With The Wind was written.

That statement was more indicative of how few times Auburn and LSU have played, not some long time domination at Baton Rouge. Before going to divisional play in the 1990s, Auburn and LSU rarely played. The schools were not annual opponents for many years, sometimes seeing each other only twice in a decade. If my memory serves me correctly, the schools have played 40 times, with LSU holding a two-game lead in the series.

However, LSU thinks they do have domination. They are convinced that a night game in Baton Rouge gives them an unbeatable edge. LSU has won 17 straight at home and has won 24 straight night games going back to 2002.

This means something has to give. LSU has many streaks going into this weekend. So do we. We have

=> Undefeated against Top 5 teams during Tuberville’s tenure.
=> Eight straight SEC road wins.
=> 14 SEC road wins out of the last 15 road games
=> 19-5 on the road since 2003.

And one more streak, the home team has won the last seven games.

That last streak needs to end now.

As relaxed as I feel right now, I think we will.

Besides, EVERY pundit in America has picked LSU by a TD or less. (The line is LSU by 11.) All we need now is the GameDay crew to declare us having absolutely no chance at all.

War Eagle!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mercury-Autism Debate

On Monday night, October 15, WSB 2 did a report on the ongoing debate about vaccinations and autism. A link to that broadcast and other information on the WSB 2 website is below.

Broadcast from Monday evening


Proposed Vaccination Schedule

Update: Thursday, October 18
Yahoo.com published an article on Thursday, October 18, about how parents are citing religious reasons for not getting vaccines.

As I noted in an earlier post, my wife and I faced a similar situation with our younger son, Christopher. Many of the parents in the article are avoiding vaccines altogether. My wife and I just thought that the vaccine schedule was too much for a young child to handle and wanted to spread it out.

However, we knew spreading out Christopher's vaccinations would create a problem at his daycare. We obtained a doctor's recommendation, only to find out that Oregon (where we lived at the time) does not accept doctor's recommendations on this issue.

Ticked at Oregon's nearsightedness on this issue, I wrote a note requesting a religious exemption for Christopher. However, I scared my wife when I cited an exemption based not on my religious beliefs, but a wish to be exempted from the state-mandated religion concerning vaccinations.

The daycare director laughed when she read it. The State of Oregon accepted my request.

Does anyone out there know the rules for getting exemptions to state policy in Georgia on vaccinations? I still view vaccinations as necessary. It is the number of vaccinations that are required in so short a time that I have trouble accepting.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Re-learning the Definition of Normal

As our son, Andrew (now 10), grows up, my wife and I find ourselves constantly second-guessing his actions. We started long before his diagnosis of autism and still do it today. The question is:
=> Do three-year olds act like this?
=> Do four-year olds act like this?
=> Do five-year olds act like this?
I think you get the picture.

We read every thing we could find. We knew he was way behind in speech. However, we were concerned with his social skills as well. Where should he be at this time? Should he be doing this? He shouldn’t be doing that. Honestly, we didn’t know. Andrew is our first. He doesn’t have an older brother, so we didn’t have a benchmark to follow.

For much of what we did, we watched how his friends acted, pressing Andrew to follow suit. Andrew do this. Andrew do that. Our goal was to improve his behavior. Many times, though, I think we just stressed him out. Ourselves, as well.

Then, we had Christopher.

Worried that Christopher might have the same issues as Andrew, we were ultra-conservative about everything, especially the potential that mercury in vaccines may be linked to autism. Our doctor had told us that mercury was no longer used in vaccines, but we took no chances. We split up all of Christopher’s vaccinations. When the state inspector filed a report at the daycare saying that Christopher was behind his vaccine requirements, we filed the proper paperwork to allow us to continue at our pace.

Christopher seemed to be proceeding along as he should. As he continued progressing, we knew he wouldn’t have the same issues as his older brother. He hit his benchmarks.

Then the misbehavior started.

Christopher started acting up and acting out. He was, in the typical phrase, all boy. And as we watched and disciplined him, we noticed things we hadn’t thought about concerning Andrew. Andrew has speech and social issues. Yet, things that we thought were due to Andrew’s autism were not necessarily so. Many of his actions were perfectly normal for a kid his age.

Yet, it took our younger son to teach us that.

I would love to hear about similar situations from other parents of children with special needs. Let’s discuss it here.

For those of you who are interested, please click on the words mercury-autism debate for more on the discussion.

Coming Next: Enter Sandman (not a NY Yankees story)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Potential Trap Game

Well, it’s Thursday night. I am at home, watching Wake Forest and Florida State. Wake Forest is a good team that has lost a couple of tough games. Florida State has done the same. FSU is ranked #21. Wake is unranked. Currently, at the start of the 4th quarter, it is 14-14 and Wake is driving.

I am pulling for Wake, as I did my graduate work there. I follow the doings of the Demon Deacons, particularly during basketball season. FSU, 4-1 and coming off a victory over an unnamed propped up national power, is favored by six. Still, the game is at Wake and it’s definitely tight.

This weekend will be the same. The game with Arkansas kicks off at 7:45. Auburn is ranked at #22, slightly favored (by 3 the last time I looked), but playing at Arkansas. Rumors are flying everywhere.

 McFadden is injured and will be used sparingly.
 McFadden is ok.
 Marcis Monk, same rumors as McFadden
 Nutt will be fired if he doesn’t have a good season.
 Tuberville, an Arkansas native, will take the job if Nutt goes.
 Tuberville will be replacing Franchione at Texas A&M

Okay, the last two are the hopeful wishes of Alabama fans.

Back to the game, regardless of the injury status of key Arkansas players, the game will be close. If Auburn players are reading the headlines, their blood is boiling as the pundits keep saying that LSU has only two tough games left: Kentucky and Alabama. Auburn is ready to show that they will be tough, too.

I hope the Tigers will be focused on this weekend…and not focused on the other Tiger team next weekend. We weren’t focused last year when we played Arkansas (ok, it was a morning game) and it cost us. Hopefully, revenge (and it is definitely needed) will keep our minds on this one.

War Eagle!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Meet Christopher

As promised, I am now going to introduce my younger son, Christopher.

It took us awhile before we finally decided to have a second child. Given the situation with my older son, we were afraid. We didn’t want to go through it again. However, our desire for another child was great, so we had one. (OK. OK. I know my wife did 99.99% of the work.)

Christopher, named after his great uncle, was, like all children, a blessing. Every stereotype we have ever heard about second children is exemplified in him.

He started school this year and is enjoying kindergarten. He comes home every day, talking about what letters he learned, how high he can count. When he comes home, he has but one objective…to keep up with his big brother and do every thing he does. The difference in their ages is five years. Because of this, it seems as if Christopher skipped many of the things young children his age do, matching his interests to his brother’s interests.

Christopher is athletically inclined; however, we didn’t realize this for a while. He loves hockey, football, baseball, you name it. He played t-ball last spring, his first organized sport. He was the third youngest kid (out of 12) on his team and played in the outfield. He won defensive player of the game several times for his ability to get a baseball from the outfield to the pitcher’s mound. My wife and I didn’t realize this was unusual until his coach told us. With the fall upon us, he is now participating in a soccer class at the local rec center.

His favorite team in any sport is the Atlanta Braves. His hero is Brian McCann. We actually took him to a Brian McCann autograph signing one. He got really shy and couldn’t meet him.

His biggest hero is his older brother.

In short, Christopher is a normal boy…and I’m very proud of him, too.

I would really like to hear from readers. Please post your thoughts, particularly as they relate to raising special needs children, here.

Next: Re-learning the Definition of Normal

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I Was Wrong

I admit it. I was a little hesitant about today. First, it was the fact a pre-lunch kickoff. We hadn’t done well in a while.

Today, we did.

When Auburn scored its second TD, I saw something rolling on the ground. For a split second, I was cursing under my breath, as I thought we had fumbled the ball.

It was just someone’s helmet.

I said in a previous post that I had read somewhere we were going to wear 50s throwback jerseys in honor of the 1957 championship team.

The ’57 team was there, but we were wearing our white uniforms.

I was glad to be wrong on all counts.

I have to admit it that watching us actually dismantle a team and not have to sweat for the second half was definitely a pleasure. I didn’t even need to drink a beer.

And so it is with a calm demeanor that I flip the switch on the TV and watch LSU-Florida.

My wife wonders why I watch, as neither school is my team. I told her nothing else was on. She doesn’t believe me, but isn’t going to argue it.

My older son, who has to choose sides for every game, is cheering for the purple guys since it’s the favorite team of one of his teachers. This was a little difficult for me to deal with. Like many Auburn fans, I just REALLY want to beat LSU. I am already tired of hearing about them.

War Eagle!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Yours Truly...Published

Yes, the headline is true. I am now officially published. (What were they thinking?) The source is a magazine in Texas called Parent: Wise Austin. Click on the title to be taken to the magazine. I am on page 18.

Also, I have started blogging about parenting issues for Atlanta Parent magazine. Please paste tha address to that below. (I am still new at this. I couldn't get the blog to let me make two links.) Hope you enjoy it. If you have any comments, please leave them on the blog. Thanks!

http://www.atlantaparent.com/blog/index.html

Progressing Towards Halloween

It is October, which can mean only one thing. The stores are all decorated for Christmas.

Okay, besides that.

It means it’s time for Halloween.

Halloween is a time for kids, but’s it’s also a time for scaring. As I look at Auburn’s impending schedule, I see the following:

10/6 – Auburn vs. Vandy. Kickoff at 11:30 CST.

10/13 – Auburn @ Arkansas. Kickoff at 6:45 CST.

10/20 – Auburn @ LSU. Kickoff TBA.

At the outset, I am at a loss to determine which is scarier. Let’s look at them in reverse order.

Auburn @ LSU – Kickoff is TBA, but I am guessing this will be a night game. LSU prefers night games. Alabama and Tennessee play the same day, which means that CBS will be choosing between this game and ours. Depending on the outcome of the LSU-Florida game, CBS will have to consider whether they think LSU will win by blowout or only a couple of TDs. If CBS is convinced of the blowout scenario, then look for our game to be at night.

Auburn @ Arkansas – Already scheduled for ESPN, this game will see the return of a 100% Marcus Monk. Marcus Monk is Arkansas’s playmaker receiver. Without him, Arkansas is one-dimensional and can be conceivably, in theory, stopped. With him, he makes opposing defenses have to guard him, which opens up the running lanes. Monk will make his first appearance this weekend against UT-Chattanooga before likely being at full speed vs. Auburn.

Auburn vs. Vandy – Morning kickoff. You know what that means.

I have to say that the Vandy situation scares me the most. Let’s face it: we absolutely reek when we haven’t been up that long.

Auburn is a 7.5 point favorite at home. The home field advantage alone is supposed to give a team seven points, meaning the game would be even at a neutral site.

There’s added incentive: This weekend, Auburn is honoring the 1957 championship team, wearing throwback jerseys. This may be incentive for Vandy as the 1950s was the last time, if I remember correctly, Vandy beat Auburn.

So, let’s have a good clean game. I put the emphasis on clean as, given the names of the QBs facing off next week, the language and innuendo that follows could be as disgusting as the last time USC-East and USC-West faced off on the football field (though in that instance, the issue was the names of the mascots).

War *&?^ Eagle!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Goodbye, Andruw Jones

I meant this next post to be about my younger son, Christopher, but events dictated a special. Tonight, I had to deliver bad news to my kids. I told them that Andruw Jones was no longer a member of the Atlanta Braves. Both my kids love Andruw Jones, but the news was particularly devastating to my older son, Andrew, as Andruw is his favorite player. (My younger son Christopher’s favorite player is Brian McCann.)

The first thing my kids asked was, ‘Why?” Initially, I was at a loss as to what to say. My boys are ten and five and have been Braves fans since birth because their Dad is one. However, the idea of budgets and millions of dollars are not a part of their baseball world yet. My kids just know that Andruw has always been a Brave. I tried to explain the whole thing from a budget standpoint, but the concept didn’t make sense.

Then, I hit upon an idea. My kids like DVDs (and, boy, do we have too many). I asked Andrew how much money he had. “Five dollars,” he replied. I then queried how much a DVD cost and laughed when Andrew said, “$14.99.” After that, I asked the boys if they could buy a DVD with $5. When they realized they didn’t have enough money, I explained to them that the Braves had the same issue: they didn’t have enough money to pay Andruw.

So, though my boys are still Braves fans, they will have trouble watching their favorite team take the field next year without the only center fielder they have ever known. Thank you, Andruw, for all the wonderful memories you gave my boys. To them, you will always be one of the Braves.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Auburn 2-0 When GameDay Blows

I broke two of my cardinal rules this weekend.

The first was that I bet on the Florida game. (In a fit of insanity, I bet straight up.) Usually, that means a loss, but this time it didn’t.

The second rule was that I looked at the columns at www.al.com/auburnfootball/ before writing my column.

Unfortunately, Kevin Scarbinsky used my train of thought before I did. To sum up what I was going to say, I was going to comment that Auburn improved immeasurably this weekend. South Florida, a team we lost to in overtime, beat Top Five team West Virginia. Kansas State, a team we beat, defeated Top Five team Texas. As for us, we beat Top Five team Florida.

With that gone, I had to find something new to write about. I call it the Game Day rule.

For those of you that didn’t watch Game Day last Saturday, Corso, Fowler, Herbstreit wrote off Auburn chances for any success against Florida. Granted, it was amazing they had time to even discuss Auburn during ESPN’s Tim Tebow love fest. (Kudos to Mark May for being the lone voice of sanity at ESPN.)

The last time the GameDay crew was so dismissive of us was five years ago. The opponent was Alabama. Auburn, beaten and banged-up, was starting 4th string tailback Tre Smith and converted Cooper Wallace to fullback the week of the game.

That score ended 17-7 and Alabama wasn’t even in the game.

So, when you see all the stats, such as
=> Urban Meyer’s first loss in 18 games at the Swamp.
=> Florida’s first loss in 11 games (since last year at Auburn).
=> Auburn’s 3rd win in its last four games against Florida.

Remember the following:

Auburn is 2-0 when the GameDay crew totally blows us off.

Let’s hope they blow us off again before LSU.

War Eagle!

For those who want to see it again, a link to the kick is below:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqiHnweXYsI

Meet Andrew

As the blog intro says, I have two children, one of whom is special needs. That child is my older son, Andrew.

From the beginning, everything seemed fine. He progressed along, hitting every milestone in the book for the first 18 months.

Then something seemed to go wrong. Andrew stopped meeting the targets we saw in all of he books.

The first thing we always heard was “kids just develop differently.” People were well-meaning and we wanted to believe it. But hearing everyone’s anecdote about “having a friend whose cousin’s kid didn’t talk until age three, and ‘now, we can’t get him to shut up’ ” did only one thing, get on our nerves.

We started taking him to specialists. We were lucky that Andrew’s PCP shared our concerns for Andrew and was willing to make recommendations to various specialists. Finally, after a two-year odyssey of attempting various therapies, we took him for an evaluation at the local children’s hospital. It was early February, about three months shy of Andrew’s 4th birthday, and the team at the hospital told confirmed what we suspected, Andrew is autistic. He had severe delays in speech, language, and social skills.

That day was seven-and-a-half years ago. In that time, we have been to more therapy sessions than we can count: speech therapy, behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, natural science-type therapy. He still sees specialists and gets therapy now. I won’t bore anyone with the details. If people ask, then I will gladly go through it. However, I’d like to focus on the now.

What is now? Well, Andrew is in 4th grade. We held him back a year as he was young, compared to his classmates. Also, he missed nearly a month of school in our move cross-country, so holding him back made sense. He is mainstreamed in a regular class, but is pulled for language services every day. We work with him at home, to make sure he stays up on his studies.

Outside of school, he loves sports, particularly team-type sports. He dreams of being the next Andruw Jones, but practices at being the next John Smoltz. His favorite activity is to have me play catcher while he tries to throw a strike across our makeshift home plate. Unfortunately, he’s at the age where they don’t have to play all of the kids any more and he’s too slow to keep pace with the game. Still, that hasn’t changed his dreams.

In other words, he’s a normal boy…and I’m very proud of him.

Next: Meet Christopher.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Swamp

Flash Gordon: Prince Barin, I'm not your enemy. Ming is.
Prince Barin: Lower him into the swamp.
(from the 1980 movie Flash Gordon. Click on title to be taken to a link)

Shug Jordan once said that Goliath was a 40-point favorite over David. I thought about starting with that until I realized that LSU will probably be more heavily favored over us than Florida is. The line started at Florida by 20, but I think the last one I saw had Florida by 17. The last time Florida was this big a favorite over us was in 2001. They came in a 21-point favorite.

Auburn won that game, sealing it on a Damon Duval kick that traveled 44 yards (not including the additional yardage it covered going towards the sideline and then flying back into the field of play) in rain, with a 25 mph crosswind.

This time it’s a little different. The line dropping slightly has a hidden meaning. Translation: We’re not going to get beat as bad as people originally thought, though they probably first thought that Florida would easily cover 20 points the way Auburn is playing. Now, Charles Hollis (a sportswriter in Alabama) is predicting Florida by 4. I think it will be close. I hope for the best.

One of the odd things about this game, though, is that they keep using the line, “Tuberville has never won in the Swamp.” Big deal. He’s played there what…twice? The first time, it wasn’t pretty. The last time, 2002, it started out pretty much the same way. Florida jumped out to an early lead. Carnell broke his leg. And Florida stopped us on a fake punt FROM OUR OWN END ZONE late in the 2nd quarter, tacking on a last minute three points as time expired.

In the 2nd half, Ronnie Brown ran over the Florida defense. We tied the game. Then, with time running out, we drove down the field. On the last play of the game, we had a chance to kick a field goal to win it, with the ball placed at very nearly the exact same spot you would kick a extra point.

Duval, the man who did not miss an extra point in his career, missed the exact same kick when it was worth three points.

We lost in overtime.

So far, that game is kind of reminiscent of our season. We feel so close to winning more, but the end result just didn't go our way.

It should be noted that there is one thing in tomorrow's game that is exactly like 2002: Florida wanted revenge for losing to us the previous year. They got it last time, though not how they expected.

This time, let’s hope it falls our way.

War Eagle!

P.S. The networks can't stop talking abut next week's Florida-LSU match-up. Wouldn't it be nice to tick them off.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Boys



As the blog is about parenting, I thought I should break out the pictures. The one on the left is Andrew. He's 10 and in 4th grade. The one on the right is Christopher. He's 5 and in kindergarten. (The weird-looking guy in the middle is me.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Score

Every morning, before I leave for work, I give my wife and kids a kiss goodbye. Nearly every morning, my 10-year old, Andrew, wakes up and utters the same groggy sentence, “Daddy, who won?” When Andrew asks this question, he is referring to the Braves. He watches as many games as he can and is particularly fond of his favorite player, Andruw Jones. (He likes the name.) If he could, he would like to stay up and watch the whole game (and sometimes does during the summer), but when it is a school night, he has to get in bed by 8:30. After finding out who won, the next question that always follows is, “What was the score?”

With the Braves season drawing to a close (it would seem), Andrew soon won’t be asking for the score for awhile. That’s okay. After finding out the score, Andrew always utters one last sentence before falling back to sleep: “Daddy, I love you.” Hopefully, after the season ends, he still wakes up and utters that last sentence.

Time For Florida

Well, for a few days, we feel better.

It was hard to feel much worse.

We put up over 400 yards of offense, after failing to reach 300 in the first three games.

We put up 55 points. In the previous three games, we scored a total of 60.

We had one turnover. In the previous three games, we had 13.

In short, we looked good.

It was still New Mexico State.

To re-establish ourselves, we have to do a little more.

This week we have our chance.

Yes, this week we travel to the Swamp to play Florida. The line I have seen is Florida by 20. (The Florida grad in my office says that it has dropped to 17.) The last time I saw it this high was 2001. We were playing Florida then, too. Florida came in to Jordan-Hare a 21-point favorite. The game ended with Auburn winning 23-20 on a Damon Duval 44-yard field goal, splitting the uprights despite rain and a 25 mph crosswind.

That was a great moment. Let’s hope for another.

War Eagle

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Deranged Thought for the Day

Do newspapers in New Mexico, in reference to NMSU coach, Hal Mumme, ever use the headline "The Mumme Strikes" or do they control themselves?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rumors

OK. I will admit it. I’ve been a little distracted today at work. A lot of rumors have been flying on various websites and my new favorite message board.

There’s a rumor that Cox’s myasthenia gravis has returned. If that is true, we can only wish him the best. Even if it hasn’t, we can still wish him the best as he apparently is pretty much a class act.

There’s a rumor that Tuberville and Borges exchanged heated words about the offense in front of some of the players. I can’t believe this one. If they had the conversation, it would have occurred behind closed doors.

And then there’s Lester. Word is that Auburn is to get word sometime today about his status in the academic suspension. The boards are going crazy, wondering if Lester will be okayed to play. Apparently, we are waiting for clearance from the NCAA. This is the same NCAA that once inadvertently entered a failing grade at the start of a season for a standout Auburn defensive player AND TOOK ALL SEASON to process the correction, offering only a perfunctory apology later.

However, let’s forget innuendo and discuss facts,

Facts:

NMSU is located just north-northwest of El Paso.

The team is 2-1, meaning that all of our first four opponents have better records right now than we do.

They will use a no-huddle offenses and pass like crazy.

We need a victory in the worst way.

One last rumor:
All, or nearly all, of our injured players should be back for next week’s game against Florida.

Fact:
That should make things interesting.

War Eagle

Looking Forward

My senior year at Auburn, I was listed among a group of 50 or so seniors that were considered prominent on campus, due to our campus involvement. (In other words, whoever made the list wasn’t looking at my grades.) The staff at our beloved annual, the Glomerata, sent all of us on the list a page of five questions. The answer to one of the questions would be placed next to your picture in the Glom. These were things like, “Why Did You Come To Auburn?”, “What is your greatest accomplishment?”, and “What advice would you give incoming freshman?” Proud to be recognized (i.e. full of myself), I responded with what I thought were well thought-out, inspirational answers.

When I got my Glom, one of the things I looked at was the section where the 50 of us were listed. I read through what everyone wrote. Many people had written things that can only be called job-interview type answers, putting your best impression forward. I then looked at my picture. They had chosen my answer for “advice to incoming freshmen.” I read what I had written so many months ago, and thought to myself, “What a crock?!” I should have answered that what I could teach incoming freshmen was the words to Louie Louie. However, there it was. My B.S. answer recorded for all time and I couldn’t do a thing about it.

Which brings us to this season. The last two games have felt like huge mistakes that, unfortunately, are now recorded for all time. We can’t change the past. We can only go forward…and kick @$$ from here on out. The whipping begins on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. CST.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's Next

One of my favorite Pat Dye-isms is, “I didn’t have a talk planned for getting beat.”

I did not have a plan for writing something about getting beat either.

Unfortunately, that is what I now find myself doing.

I wish I could find some pithy comment to add meaning. I can’t.

Usually I am pretty good at looking in the past, finding some correlation between the current season and a past season or at least the most recent game and a past game. I started thinking about the 2003 season, where we started slow and finished 8-5. I also looked at the 2001 season, where we had quarterback issues between Cobb and Campbell. Neither of these fit. I then thought about UGA’s season from last year. They nearly got beat by Colorado to open the season, struggled for much of the season, and then finished strong.

Then I realized my problem.

I was looking at the past.

Auburn has a lot of young players in key position…and a serious lack of senior leadership. An article this week on www.al.com/auburnfootball/ pointed to Jetgate as being the reason. The combination of Jetgate and potential accreditation issues gave new recruits to Auburn pause. This current class is the result of that.

When I look at the current Auburn team, I realize I am looking at the future. The senior leaders are few. The younger players on the field are there because they are at the top of the depth chart. They are good, but they struggle.

So when I say we are looking at the future, I don’t mean that it is as bleak as the present season looks like right now. I mean that we will be seeing the same players for the next two or three years and that they will be good.

Now, though, it’s a struggle. We will have to take it one game at a time.

As Pat Dye would say, “It’s time for a gut check.”

War Eagle

Friday, September 14, 2007

Needing Caffeine

Last season, when Auburn had early games, they played like absolute crap. The bad teams hung in too long. (The Ole Miss game went to the wire.) A couple of decent teams ran all over us. (No names needed.)

Today is an early game.

We should win,

I am nervous.

What can I say? I watched the MSU-LSU game two weeks ago. MSU’s defense did well for at least a half.

Auburn’s offense has sputtered five quarters out of eight this year.

Those were in night games.

I am nervous.

The national press has already written us off. Collegefootbalnews.com referred to this weekend’s Arkansas-Alabama game as the battle to see who would challenge LSU.

One OT loss dropped us out of both polls. Virginia Tech fell fewer sports and they were totally annihilated.

Let’s face it, though. We like being written off.

Auburn is never better than when it has been written off.

This is where the caffeine begins.

This is where the fun begins.

War Eagle

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Auburn's SEC Opener



With Auburn's SEC opener occurring this weekend, I thought the cartoon above, sent to me by a friend, was appropriate. If I am violating a copyright with this post, please let me know. Thanks.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Spoiler Warning

When I watch Auburn games, I often set up my computer on ESPN’s website that automatically tracks stats. Prior to the start of the OT, the score USF 26, Auburn 23 showed up on my screen. I was taken aback. The game wasn’t over…or was it. I thought to myself that it had to be an error.

Then I realized the awful truth. ESPN must have had a glitch in their delay mechanism. The game was over and I would see the results in a few minutes. I told myself again that it was just a glitch and that the OT had just repeated the points scored in fourth quarter and then added it in. Still, I now had an awful feeling in my stomach, a feeling that would not go away. I tried to tell myself it was going to be okay as Auburn lost the toss…as Trott dropped the pass…as we brought out the field goal unit. When Byrum’s kick looked like it didn’t have a chance the way it was spinning, I told myself that everything was still going to be okay…before the kick still sailed through. I told myself as USF went for it on 4th and 1 that we were going to stop them and that we were still going to win this…all the way until that TD pass sealed our fate.

So congratulations to South Florida. They played hard and won the game. We looked good in the 2nd quarter. When we took the lead just before the half, I was convinced we would win the game. With all the mistakes in the 2nd half, I thought we would still pull it out. Even when I got the advance notice of the final score, I still believed that we could win. But unlike so many close games before, the magic ran out. An opponent didn’t end the game scratching their heads thinking, “How did we lose that game?”

Think about the magic, though. Every time it has been close in the last three years, we have won every game but one. Our only other loss in a close game: LSU 20, Auburn 17. Also, an overtime contest. Also, a contest where a kicker missed untold field goal attempts and a special teams lapse was crucial in regulation. As I watched this game, I thought to myself that this must be the karma for that LSU game. How we lost that one, I have no clue. Given our mega-turnovers in the 2nd half, how we stayed in last night’s game, I have no clue.

Actually I do. Note the good things:

-> Our defense allowed only three points off of five turnovers. (I know that they had a couple of lapses in the first quarter.)
-> We DO have a good new kicker.
-> Fannin had a good first half. Despite his second half turnovers, he and Tate are the next Williams-Brown tandem.
-> This WILL wake us up, just in time for the SEC.
-> We didn’t graduate from Michigan or Notre Dame.

I haven’t checked the articles and message boards today yet, as I wanted to wait until after I wrote this post. That way I would not color my message. I am sure everyone is predicting doom for us. I am particularly certain that the Alabama fans are now invading the Auburn message boards, talking smack and claiming that they are back. In other words, claiming victory again in the early fall, despite five straight losses in November. SI may even do another “Bama is back” cover like they did in 2005.

However, one thing still gives me pride. As I was leaving church this morning, I noticed a Gamecocks flag still on one of the cars. Given the number of specialized UGA license plates around, putting out a Gamecocks flag was not the smartest thing to do. Granted, it was still a church parking lot, so the driver, I am sure, wasn’t too worried. However, I noticed one other flag flying on someone’s car…an Auburn one. Win or lose, we stand with our team and behind them. Only an Auburn fan would have driven to church the day after a loss with an Auburn flag still attached to the car.

War Eagle!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Long Wait

I lived in Oregon for twelve years before returning to the South 18 months ago. One of the things I liked about living in the Northwest was Saturday mornings during college football season. Being on PST, I could turn on ESPN and watch College GameDay at 7:30 a.m. I could brew a pot of coffee, make breakfast, and watch in the early morning. The first kickoff would be at 9:00 a.m. This did present a problem if Auburn was playing at 9:00 a.m., as these were always regional broadcasts. You couldn’t get JP Sports/Lincoln Financial Sports in Oregon, so you had to go to a sports bar.

Yeah, good luck finding one open at 9:00 a.m. Actually, my Auburn friends and I in the Northwest did find places that opened at 10:00 a.m. and let us in early to watch while they prepared for the mid-day rush. (Note to the staffs at Damon’s Grill: Thanks again!)

Here, back on EST again though, the first kickoff is not until Noon. You might think that I could sleep in. Yet, my kids still rise on Saturdays between 7-8:00 a.m., so I get up, brew a pot of coffee, and make breakfast. And I wait for 10:30 to arrive.

With tonight’s game not kicking off until late, I know, however, that it will be a day even longer than usual. Being the late game on ESPN2, the Auburn game will likely not finish until midnight. It’s days like this that drive my wife insane, as I seem to watch all day. It gives me more reason to get nervous. Also, I broke one of my cardinal rules, I actually bet on Auburn today. Granted, it was only for coffee and I couldn’t ignore the opportunity for straight up bet.

I do think Auburn will win. I have less trepidation than I had last week. There are too may people saying that Auburn is an upset victim waiting to happen today, so the team won’t be caught unawares. (Not that it would be hard, given that USF has knocked off a Top 10 opponent each of the last two seasons, including a 24-19 shocking of West Virginia in Morgantown, the place where Auburn opens the 2008 season.

One final note: Not many Auburn fans realize this, but last week’s match was a home-and-home one. Auburn will pay a visit to K-State…in 2014.

War Eagle!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Big 12 Down. Big East Next

Auburn took care of business against the Big 12 last week. This week it is South Florida and the Big East. South Florida is a dark horse Big East contender. Though not listed in the Coaches' or AP Poll, South Florida is listed as a Top 25 team in other polls. The current line is 6, though to hear my co-workers (the USF graduates) talk, Auburn should be at least a two TD favorite and that's how many points they want. I am not biting. It's going to be close....again.

Both conferences lost only one game last week, with Tennessee falling to Cal and Syracuse getting waxed by Washington. Should be interesting this time around.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Shades of Georgia Tech

As I watched Auburn play K-State, the same thought kept popping up in my mind: this reminds me of a Ga Tech game. In Cox’s first game as the Auburn QB, Auburn played at home against Ga Tech. The team looked inept, especially in the Red Zone. There was no running game, as the best runner on the team (irons in ’05, Lester in ’07) was on the bench. (Lester was suspended. Irons just didn’t play much.)

The difference between then and now was the penalties. In ’05, Auburn committed over 100 yards in penalties, shooting itself in the foot at every opportunity. The most costly one I remember was a holding call. It looked like one of those “you’ve gotta be kidding me” type fouls that never happened. In addition, it was nowhere near and had absolutely no effect on the outcome of the play; still, the effect of the call was to negate a 40+ yard TD pass that would have put Auburn up 14-10 (assuming a made PAT) and changed the dynamics of the game.

In this game, however, the penalties were on the other team. The penalties that killed us in the opener in ’05 saved us in ’07. Time after time, a K-State penalty benefited Auburn when we needed it the most. Finding ourselves one last time in the Red Zone late in the game, K-State committed another penalty (offsides) that moved us from the 6-yd line to the 3-yard line and set up the winning TD. A fumble returned for a TD later would make it 23-13.

As I look back this year’s opener, I remember the following: As bad as the ’05 team looked against Tech that year, they went on to a great season, losing only in OT at LSU and in the bowl game against Wisconsin. Similar success this year (though I really want to beat LSU in Baton Rouge) would be welcome.

There is one last thing: John Pruett, of the Huntsville Times, commented in his column this morning that, "Seldom has a final score been more deceiving." I can think of a similar game that ended the exact same way. On the road, Auburn trailed most of the game against a team it should have been beating by at least two TDs. Down 10-7 late in the 4th quarter, Auburn finally drove the field with Lawyer Tillman making a spectacular one-handed grab in the end zone to put Auburn up 14-10 with a minute to play. The other team tried to come back, but Aundray Bruce intercepted the ball on the last play and ran it back for a TD. Final score was 20-10.

It was about 20 years ago, I think, as I believe it occurred in ’86 or ‘87. The other team was Ga. Tech.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Line on The Weekend

The current line on this weekend's contest is Auburn by 13.5. Every pundit I have read is in agreement that Auburn will win (usually this scares me), but that Auburn will not cover.

I agree. It will be close.

War Eagle!

Beer and Kansas State

I did something last night I don’t normally do. After putting the kids to bed, I sat down and had a beer. My wife was surprised to see it. She knows I don’t normally drink, except on Saturdays during college football season.

The reason I drink on Saturdays has to with my alma mater: Auburn. I love watching my team play and go through the emotional swings of the game like most other fans. However, as most Auburn fans well know, Auburn tends to play to the level of its competition. This means wonderful, tense games such as last year’s contest against Florida. It also means games where the first string is still playing into the 2nd half against a team it should have put away in the 1st quarter. Most Auburn games are either 1-beer or 2-beer contests, with the lone exception being the annual 4-beer showdowns we have with LSU.

So…with the season opener against Kansas State still a few days away, why did I feel the need to pop open a brew? It had to do with the last few days of my life. For the last few months, I have been dealing with a low-grade headache that I could not get rid of. I had viewed it as being similar to a sore muscle, an annoyance that just had to be worked out.

Last week, though, the pain hit the point where I felt I needed to see a doctor. I was convinced that I had a migraine. My doctor, being medically trained, disagreed with my diagnosis. She knew it wasn’t a migraine. However, being unable to identify the reason for the headache, she took the next step: she set up two appointments for me, one with a specialist and one for an MRI.

The acronym “MRI” surprised me. I knew the purpose of it was preventive. The doctor was not requiring an MRI because she thought I specifically had a tumor; she did it as she needed to eliminate that possibility as a cause of my headache as soon as possible.

Yesterday, I got the results: brain scan normal. I was relieved. My wife was, too, though she did not concur with the diagnosis of my brain being normal. It had been a week since I had originally met with the doctor, a tense seven days of worry. So, after it all, I just decided to have a beer.

I do wonder what this problem is. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked. My wife thinks I just need more sleep (and less time on the computer). Whatever it is, I at least know it won’t require another beer…at least until kickoff at 7:45 p.m. EST this Saturday on ESPN.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Happy Day

Today, at 3:00 p.m., my wife officially became an American citizen. She received a certificate, an American flag, and a letter of congratulations from George W. Bush, written on White House stationary. I am more proud of her than I can express. She is living proof that it is possible to immigrate to this country legally and follow the rules. What a concept?! I love you, honey!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Where Would The Braves Be?

As of this post, the Braves are 10-11 since the trade for Mark Teixeira. Given how much Teixeira has helped the team, I don't even want to think of how the Braves might have done without him after the last 21 games. Let's go, Atlanta, there is still time, but it is running out fast.

Auburn a Target

Website rivals.com recently listed their top 15 revenge games of 2007, teams looking to exact revenge for devastating losses from the previous year. According to the website, three teams are targeting Auburn for revenge. No other football team is listed more than once.

Click on the title of this post to be taken to the article.

Backstory on Kansas State Football Coach Ron Prince

Sportswriter John Pruett of the Huntsville Times has written a great column on K-State's Ron Prince, an up-and-comer whose rise in the profession included time at Alabama A&M. The write-up provides excellent insight into Coach Prince's philosophy and should be required reading for all Auburn fans. Kansas State is going to be a huge challenge for Auburn in the season opener as they will be ready to play and showed their capabilities last year when they upset Texas. Click on the title on this posting to be taken to the column.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Auburn QB Brandon Cox: Grizzabella The Glamour Cat

What is it about Brandon Cox that the pre-season prognosticators just don’t like? They pay lip service to his experience, saying things like he is “one of the better quarterbacks in the league”, but then follow up with a caveat that he’s not one of their top three All-SEC choices (Athlon). What’s that supposed to mean? Does that mean he’s in the Top 6 of the 12 starters. Website collegefootballnews.com definitely does not have in their Top 4 QBs. I realized this when I saw their list of the top 30 players and saw four QBs listed (no Cox). So, he doesn’t qualify for even third-string All-SEC. He’s not seen as a top athlete. Those of you reading may understand how I reached this conclusion.

After thinking about this question for a while (which proves I definitely have a lot of time on my daily commute), I have come to realize that Brandon Cox is the SEC football equivalent of Grizzabella the Glamour Cat. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Grizabella is a character in Cats, the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical based on T.S. Eliot’s book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” (A summary follows here. For those interested in a complete synopsis, please click on the title of this post.) In the musical, a certain breed of cats, called Jellicle Cats, meet once a year at a junkyard party so that a wise old cat named Old Deuteronomy can decide which one of them is worthy of being reborn in to a new jellicle life.

Most of the musical is about various cats stating their case as to why they should be the one chosen. However, there is one cat, Grizzabella, whom for various reasons the other cats decide should not even be allowed to join the party much less state her case for re-birth. Twice she tries to crash the party, only to be tossed out.

Back to where I am going with this comparison.

There are a number of good QBs in the league. Woodson at Kentucky and Ainge at Tennessee are often mentioned as the top two. After that, people bring up Stafford at Georgia, Tebow at Florida and Matt Flynn at LSU. Still, where is Cox? He has led his team to a 13-3 SEC record and a 20-5 overall record over the last two seasons. Yet, he gets treated as an afterthought in discussions, all because he had a “sub-par” 2006 (a season where the team went 11-2 and he played hurt most of the time).

The last two Auburn QBs had junior years below expectations. In their senior years, both Ben Leard and Jason Campbell led their teams to a spot in the SEC Championship game, with Campbell leading the team to a perfect 13-0 season. It’s Cox senior year now and he has what it takes to do the same.

At the end of Cats, Grizzabella crashed the party one last time. Over the objections of her detractors, she performed the song “Memory” and convinced everyone there that she was the one that deserved to be re-born. Given that the only person in the SEC that even remotely resembles the character of Old Deuteronomy is Al Borges (Auburn's Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach), look for Cox to create a lasting memory for Auburn fans this season.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Won OnThe Field, Not On Paper

I apologize for the delay in getting a new post out. I am working on my next big article and have been swamped with things at home.

I have been reading a lot lately how Alabama fans are crowing that they are beating Auburn in the recruiting wars, given their August (no pun intended) successes vs. Auburn's inability to recruit in-state, and noting this as proof that they are back. Leave it to Alabama to declare themselves state, SEC, and national champions without even playing a game. It's reminiscent of the Iron Bowl game in, I believe, 2005 when John Parker Wilson was pressed into duty late in the game and, given Wilson's success (he completed a few passes), Alabama fans started crowing on blogs afterwords that Auburn better "get used to it".

I am waiting to see what "pseudo-victory" they declare next.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

An Art Lesson

While quizzing my son tonight from a set of flash cards entitled "Brain Quest" for 4th graders, I noted that one of the questions asked "What color do you mix with red to make pink?". The answer is white.

That explains the uniforms they wear at the University of Alabama.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Difference of 30

If you haven’t noticed yet, the summer deluge of college football pre-season magazines has hit the newsstands. Though these types of magazines are printed nationwide, sales of them are highest in the South. (Big surprise there.) Every year, I thumb through these magazines, buying a couple that focus on the SEC. This year, though, I took my research almost totally on-line as all I want to know is already out there. This means in my old age I am either getting a) smarter, or b) cheaper.

Besides, if you try finding a pick on Auburn these days, opinions are so divergent that it boggles the mind. I call this blog entry a difference of 30 as that is the difference between the most divergent opinions I can find. CBS Sportsline rates Auburn a preseason #11. Phil Steele rates Auburn at #41. Yes, you got it, #41, with the loss of four offensive lineman, the lack of proven wide receivers, the toughest four road games in the SEC, and new kickers on special teams making Auburn a 4th pick in the SEC West. (Granted, Florida is replacing nine people on defense and a senior quarterback. Some polls have them as high as #3, while at least one has them out of the Top 25. Go figure that one.)

So far, the preseason predictions shake out like this:

#11: CBS Sportsline
#12: rivals.com
#14: Street & Smith, USA Today (Coaches’ Poll)
#16: Sporting News
#21: Athlon
#23: Lindy’s
#28: collegefootballnews.com
#41: Phil Steele

So, if we do this old international competition way, dropping the #11 from the American judge and the #41 from the Russian judge, we average out at #18. If I remember correctly, we were #17 in 2004 when we went undefeated, so we are in a good spot.

Besides, even those who rank us highly still have us behind LSU. LSU is a pre-season BCS championship game contender and over half of the 80+ sportswriters that cover SEC football picked LSU (over UF) in the championship game. Auburn was picked second in the Western Division and received four votes as the preseason SEC champion. (Alabama received three votes in this poll, meaning that the first, second, and maybe even the third round of drinks had been poured by that time.)

On the bright side, the last media preseason pick that actually won the conference was Florida in the mid-90s. With the target off our back, this can only mean one thing: Auburn has the conference right where they want it.

Coming soon (for all you T.S. Eliot fans): Cox of the walk.

Irons Update

Former Auburn RB Kenny Irons, who provided Auburn fans with a number of memorable moments over the last two years, suffered a torn ACL in his first preseason game with the Cincinnati Bengals. He had gained 17 yards on 4 carries. He will be out for the season. Prayers for his healthy recovery.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Wiggled Out

At the snack area in my office, someone brought in a huge, delicious-looking fruit salad to share. You know you're a parent when you see a fruit salad and the first thing that comes to mind is "fruit salad...yummy yummy". My boys are long past the Beatles equivalent for the pre-tween set, but I may be stuck with them in my head for many more years.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Restraint




A friend of mine sent me this. It's a thing of beauty.