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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Tale of the Videotape (A Last Look at the 2006 Auburn Season)

Every college football fan has their idiosyncrasies that they swear affect the team. Some of it’s clothing related: lucky shirts, sweatshirts, bras, etc. Others are specific morning rituals: time to wake up, ways your stir your coffee. These rituals are all geared towards winning.

As for me, I usually blame myself for losses. One particular season opener (at home vs. Southern Cal), I wore my new “It’s rolling, baby, it’s rolling” t-shirt. I never wore it on a game day again. One year, I missed kickoff on every televised game that we lost. Last year, though, my downfall was videotape.

Being married with two kids, I have little chance of watching/listening to all of Auburn’s games in a season. When I can’t watch, I have to tape the game. The reason for this is that my wife understands my passion, but refuses to surrender every fall Saturday. Last season, she planned a pumpkin patch outing for a particular October Saturday. I set the VCR to tape the Arkansas game. (I know. It’s not a TIVO. I’m still in the dark ages.) Then, I went to the pumpkin patch with family and friends. After the outing was over, we went to a BBQ place for a late lunch and I caught the second half. It was painful to watch.

Then came November. My wife planned a Saturday to take pictures of the boys for our Christmas cards. I set the VCR. It was the Georgia game. I returned home in time to watch the game, but forgot to turn off the tape. It was even more painful than Arkansas.

Despite this, I am lucky that I realized my mistake in time. I had videotaped the previous four Iron Bowls and wanted to stick with what was working. However, acknowledging the bad karma of the VCR in 2006, I did not tape the 2006 Iron Bowl. Like the four before it, the one was beautiful as well.

I do count myself lucky in one area besides the Iron Bowl. My wife planned a family outing to the zoo on the day of the LSU game. The outing included my sisters and their families as well. I decided to be a jerk and stayed home to watch the game. We pulled it out.

So, with 2006 officially remembered, I now look forward to 2007. Granted, I look forward to every season. War Eagle!