Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Big Show Update

Trying out a new format for the Big Show update. Not much news to really report. But there are a couple of notes and notables.

-“Monster” Mike Bianucci’s hard work paid off as he was selected to the SAL All-Star game. How good is Mike? He’s in the Top 3 in Doubles, HRs, AVG, and Total Bases for the SAL League

-Joseph Sanders (Tri-City Dust Devils) and Paul Burnside (Great Falls Voyagers) have already found teams after being drafted.

-Mike Nix, who bounced from a couple of teams, was finally released by the Rockies AA affiliated, the Tulsa Drillers

-Tug Hulett is having a rough 2009. It doesn’t help that the Royals keep Yo-Yo-ing him from Omaha to Kansas City. Hopefully he can stay one place or the other so he can get some consistency

-Nice profile of Chris Bootcheck and his journey back to the Majors:

it's been a longer haul for Bootcheck. The former Michigan City/LaPorte star bounced between Salt Lake City and the Angels for four years before becoming a free agent.

Now gainfully employed by the Indianapolis Indians, Pittsburgh's Triple-A farm team, Bootcheck is raising eyebrows. Over his last 10 appearances, he struck out 16 in 9 2/3 innings and carries a sparkling 0.93 ERA, but the clock is ticking for the 30-year-old pitcher.

Used mostly in relief with the Angels, the former first-round draft choice out of Auburn came closest to establishing himself in 2007, working 77 innings in 51 appearances.

Two Clete Thomas articles and comparisons to Jeff Mathis of the Angels. Since both are from the Panama City area and have taken similar trips to the Majors. Good reads both here and here. Another tries to determine just what is wrong with Clete Thomas that keeps getting him sent back to AAA Toledo. The simple answer? His swing:

"Clete is gradually getting better," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said, and the numbers support it: .306 batting average for the Mud Hens and .429 in his last 10 games. "We addressed it the other night, but he just tends to stride too far. He runs off and leaves the bat head and it just doesn't catch up.

"Against one right-hander he was too big with the swing, real late on the ball, and then in the same at-bat he shortened up and put a good swing on the ball. That's why I say we're starting to see some progress."


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Attrition Update (The 06 Class)


Last time we checked in on the 2005 Recruiting class to see who is still a Tiger and who hit that long dusty trail. Here’s the 06 and 07 Classes. Again, Strikethroughs are no longer on the team:


Steven Ensminger (QB/West Monroe, LA) – Currently a JR at LA Tech. Played Scout Team work for the Bulldogs last year. From a 2007 Article he talks about why he left the Tigers:

"I just didn't feel comfortable being there anymore," Ensminger said. "I talked to my dad about it and he said he wasn't going to make the decision whether I stayed or go. I was a grown man and I can make my own decisions. And he supports me with it. He's been helpful. It's been hard being away from him because I'm used to coming home and talking football with him. He calls me every night and checks up with me. I'm getting used to it."

And the odd story about him striking up a friendship with LB Zach Schreiber even though they been Rivals their whole lives:

"I talk to him a lot," Ensminger said. "He's a good guy and will be a good player for us. It's kind of weird, we talked about it, because I played for West Monroe and he played for Evangel. I played for Auburn and he played at Alabama.

Raven Gray (DE/Enterprise, AL) – After a JUCO Stint. Gray actually enrolled at Auburn only to redshirt due to injuries. He has since left the team and is now a Delta State Statesman. At least I think that’s where he is. This article says yes. While the Delta State Roster says no (then again, it’s an old roster).

Hendrick  Leverette (LB/Hattiesburg, MS)- Enrolled at Pearl River CC. Instead of coming back to Auburn decided to sign with the hometown Southern Miss Golden Eagles. He’s listed as a Top Newcomer for them by USA Today.

Bryant Miller (DE/Miami, FL)-  Could never break into the starting rotation at Auburn. Instead decided to transfer to Hampton University. We apparently, makes it a habit of stockpiling D-1A players who need a new home.

Jermarcus Ricks (DT/Leighton, AL) – It’s actually Jake Ricks now. The name change prompted some confusion. See: Jake. Jemarcus.

Alex Rose (WR/Jacksonville, FL)- Who knows? I can’t find anything after he left the Tigers.

Chris Slaughter (WR/Fort Valley, GA)- Left the Tigers in January. Hasn’t resurfaced (to my knowledge) since.

Greg Smith  (DT/Booneville, MS) – Showing up to Auburn looking like he ate the GDP of Cameroon. Smith is no longer a Tiger and I’m not sure if any team has taken a chance on him. He would definitely rank as one the biggest recruiting busts of Tommy Tuberville’s recruiting classes.

Lee Tilley (OL/Columbus, OH)- Again, another much hyped recruit who didn’t pan out. Again, not sure where he ended up.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Attrition Update


So after the earlier report from Phillip Marshall:

Gone are sophomore safety Christian Thompson, redshirt freshman defensive end Cameron Henderson, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jomarcus Savage and redshirt freshman wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis, AuburnUndercover.com has learned.

We’ve learned that’s not entirely truthful. Per Jay Tate:

Hey everyone. Just got off the phone with trusted Auburn spokesman Kirk Sampson.
DE JoMarcus Savage is off the team.
LB Christian Thompson is off the team.
S Marcus Jemison is off the team.
DE Cameron Henderson is ON the team and, as far as I can tell, is in good standing. The same goes for WR Philip Pierre-Louis.

So PPL and Cam Henderson are still Tigers. As for the reasons, none have been given (none probably will) but it looks like both a combination of “Brain Cramps” and just plain “Jack-ass-ery”.

The Rumor is this (culled from various messageboards) and again, to reiterate, this is a RUMOR: Either 1, 2, or all 3 of the players that are leaving the team were disrupting a classroom and asked to leave by the professor. This happened once, the players involved were warned and disciplined. It then happened a second time and the player(s) were promptly shown the door.

Others have posted that “The reasons involve disrupting a classroom, missing classes and missing workouts, etc.”

So again, “Brain Cramps” and “Jack-ass-ery”


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One Day Auburn. One Day.


Yes. LSU won the CWS. Congrats and all that.

Every Spring the Auburn Tigers take the field. Every Spring I follow them. Every Spring I watch and hope that this could be the year.

Winning a CWS is hard. Getting there is even harder.

Will it happen? (and by happen I mean get to the CWS)? Yes. It has to. Auburn will be back. I just hope I’m around when it happens.

So yes, Congrats to LSU. However, There are only one species of Tigers I care about in this world and they are Orange and Blue.


The Attrition Begins


Oh that dreaded term. Attrition. Every year I open up my copy of Phil Steele’s preview or Lindy’s or Athlon. I see the depth chart listed and then wonder aloud who will still be here when we first take the field, and who will suffer that summer injury: “Brain Cramps” and fail to qualify academically.

Well, the attrition seems to have begun. Philip Marshal is saying that the careers of four players are now done at Auburn:

Gone are sophomore safety Christian Thompson, redshirt freshman defensive end Cameron Henderson, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jomarcus Savage and redshirt freshman wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis, AuburnUndercover.com has learned.

That’s a tough go. Especially since WR and Defensive back are already thin for Auburn.

It does give a chance to check up on our previous recruiting classes and see just where everyone is now. Looking at the classes of 2005, 2006 and 2007.

First Up: 2005. Strikethrough means the player is no longer on Auburn’s depth chart:

So where did they go?

Ulysses Alexander- Currently a Redshirt Junior at Howard University. Last year he played in 8 games, 11 receptions and 2 TDs.

Tray Blackmon- In his first year with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.

Robert Dunn- Not on any NFL Roster. One blog claims he is now pursuing a rap career (I wish I was making that up):

Recently, Dunn teamed up with Quentin Groves’ music label, Major League Entertainment, and expects to achieve what he describes as one of his "ultimate goals": expressing himself to the world through song.

"As a youngster, I had major dreams," Dunn said. "I went from D-1 ball to being 'Major League.'"

With songs like “Rain Dance,” “Goose and Patron,” and “Last Breath,” he has captivated young music lovers across South Alabama and Georgia.

Oscar Gonzalez – Transferred. Also at Howard.

Mike Harness- Starting Guard for Jackson (Mississippi) State.

Alonzo Horton- Where to begin with this guy. He left Auburn to go to Jackson State. Tried to go Ole Miss. Almost went to North Texas. Bounced around JUCOs Here’s a good breakdown from another blog:

2005: Signed with Auburn, redshirted. Weeks into fall semester, learned that an aunt and two brothers died in Hurricane Katrina.

2006: Struggled academically but played in nine games with three tackles. Didn't enroll for spring semester.

2007: In April, Jackson (Miss.) State announced it signed Horton for the '07 season. Somehow, after a year and a half at Auburn, Horton was academically ineligible to enroll at JSU, a Playoff Subdivision (formerly D-IA) school.

2007: Horton planned to play for Hinds (Miss.) Community College. Officials there held off putting out a release. He either didn't enroll or only took a few classes. In the fall of 2007, Horton turned up at Northwest Mississippi CC, played and became a recruitable commodity again. He committed to Ole Miss in September.

2008: Horton reversed his Ole Miss commit after the Rebels' coaching change. He talked to other schools and eventually signed with UNT. It's uncertain if other schools backed away. On track for an associate's degree last May, Horton fell short after NWMCC deemed he lacked enough transferrable credits from previous schools.

Zach Kutch – Now a Senior with the Illinois State Redbirds 

Sen'Derrick Marks – Drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the 2nd Round.

Jerraud Powers- Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the 3rd Round.

Rex Sharpe- Now a LB for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Failed to qualify for Auburn and bounced around a couple of JUCOs before landing with the Gophers. Great little article on her journey here.

Patrick Trahan- Suffered from “Brain Cramps” and left Auburn to go to NW Mississippi JUCO. Then went to Ole Miss. Trahan claimed the Auburn Academic Staff didn’t handle his learning disability (dysgraphia, a form of dyslexia that hinders his ability to write) which was profiled in the ESPN the Magazine piece, “When Words Get in the Way”. His father may have also convinced Enrique Davis to choose Ole Miss over Auburn:

The Trahans also may have played a role in luring freshman running back Enrique Davis to Ole Miss. Two years ago, Davis spent time with Patrick Trahan during a recruiting visit to Auburn. Davis later signed with Auburn before failing to qualify and enrolling at a prep school. He solicited more advice when he began to re-evaluate his options.

"I told Enrique's stepfather, 'Hey, coach Nutt has coached Darren McFadden, Felix Jones. And you can also look at what we went through at Auburn,'" Kenneth Trahan said. "And then I talked to Enrique about the situation, too."

So I’m sure Auburn fans love to hear that.

Brian West- Apparently, is or was a Senior at the University of Houston.

Jonathan Wilhite- Drafted in 2008 Draft by the Patriots in the 4th Round.

I’ll have an update on the 2006 and 2007 Classes tomorrow.


Monday, June 22, 2009

The Future of Kodi Burns

Message board chatter only really, but some Auburn fans have been wondering aloud if uber-recruit Tyrik Rollison would be able to come in and lead the 2009 Tigers.

Still others have been wondering aloud if Neil Caudle will take over the offense, or if Chris Todd will be healthy enough to take the reigns.

Has everyone forgotten about Kodi Burns?

If so, why?

It’s my opinion only, but if there is one thing Tony Franklin did at Auburn, that we will still be dealing as Auburn fans in the 2009 season, it’s the possibility that Tony Franklin absolutely destroyed Kodi Burns as a QB.

Perhaps “destroyed” is too strong a word. I’m mainly pointing to last year’s game vs Tennessee, which I believe was a turning point (and not a good one) for the team.

A couple of different takes on that game. First from ESPN:

Jake Ricks only had to fall on the ball, and backup quarterback Kodi Burns merely had to throw it a few yards.

They still provided the biggest plays for No. 15 Auburn.

A little reminder. This was when Todd was “the guy” even though he had a noodle arm and a penchant for throwing to guys in different colored jerseys.

Burns rolled right, spotted Montez Billings open on the right sideline to convert a third-and-5 and allow Auburn (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) to kneel on the final plays of the game.

It also might have helped renew a quarterback controversy for the Tigers.

"All I knew was we had to get a first down," said Burns, who hadn't played in the last two games. "Get a first down and we win this game. I rolled out and saw that cornerback back off and open up just a little window."

Yes. You read that right. No play in the previous two games (That would be the soccer game we called a 3-2 win against Mississippi State and the heartbreaker to LSU).

Burns' final pass capped an offensive performance that drew plenty of boos from the fans in the fourth quarter, and didn't exactly end what might be a brewing quarterback controversy with Burns and Chris Todd. Tuberville said the situation would be settled during the week and both would likely play.

Auburn fans offered one of their biggest cheers when Burns replaced Todd with 5:59 left. Burns wound up losing 2 yards on three straight quarterback keepers.

Again, you read that right, Auburn had just replaced its quarterback and instead of trying something different through the air, Auburn decided to run THREE STRAIGHT QB keepers.

Now to the Auburn reaction. Where instead of praising Burns for being thrown into the fire and not losing his cool, Franklin decided to, instead, throw him under the bus:

Both coaches said Burns let the adrenaline get the better of him at times in Saturday's victory over Tennessee. Franklin said Burns has been consistently improving in practice, but has not done as well in games(A).

"When the lights have flipped on, he's gone through one progression and taken off and run(B)," Franklin said. "I think he gets caught up in the enthusiasm and the hoo-rah and everybody is 'Kodi, Kodi, Kodi,' and the adrenaline takes over. You can't let it happen. As a quarterback, you can't ever get emotional(C). You've got to just be cool. You've got to be level all the way through. You've got to handle adversity and you've got to handle prosperity."

A) Whose fault is that? Again, straight editorializing and speculation on my part, but it could be the fact that he hadn’t seen the field in two games, had been mainly used a running back in the quarterback slot or the fact that he hadn’t been properly coached. More on this in a moment.

B) I can’t find the full game online, however, I can tell you two things about this and it’s evidenced in the clip below, the reason Kodi kept taking off during that game is because he got absolutely NO protection as the game wore on. However, he was still trying to read through his progression. (Pay particular attention at the 3:15 and 3:40 moments where, at least to me, at looks liked Kodi is going through more than a single progression)

C) This is one of the things that particularly irks me about Franklin’s evaluation about the game and about QBs in general. Not emotional? That’s malarky. This is a game, plain and simple. You’re allowed to show emotion. In fact, I like to see some emotion out of players instead of them becoming Robots in Riddel. Also, I know of one player who would disagree with the unemotional quarterback theory:

Back to the first issue. The theory that Tony Franklin screwed up Kodi Burns.

When we began 2008. We went in with the 2 QB system. Of course, that didn’t work:

Tony Franklin saw it too many times as he reviewed film from Saturday's game: With four receivers streaking down the field, quarterbacks Chris Todd and Kodi Burns held onto the football, choosing not to make the high-risk throws.

Franklin thinks he knows why.

"It's probably because (they're thinking), 'If I make a bad throw or a bad decision, it might be my last one.' I've got to get that out of their heads," Franklin said.

Franklin said he plans to scrap that rotation for Saturday's game against Southern Mississippi.

"We're going to play them both again,"

Which led to the “playing the ‘hot hand’ system”. In the Southern Miss game, Todd had the better day, and Burns still “injured” saw limited time, only attempted 3 passes (completing none) and rushed for a total of 2 yards.

Afterwards, of course, Burns was benched, Todd was named the starter, and Tuberville met with Burns’s parents. Then there were no signs of Kodi during the MSU and LSU games.

Then we arrive full circle, back to Tennessee. Where Burns came in. Essentially won the game, and was still being thrown under the bus by Franklin.

I’ll just go ahead and say this, and it could be completely with Orange and Blue glasses. It could be completely baseless, but, I feel, Tony Franklin never wanted Kodi Burns to be the QB. He wanted Chris Todd. Todd was his guy, a player he knew, that was originally going to be at Troy to play for Franklin, and was given the shot to play at Auburn. It’s just some gut reaction after re-reading quotes like this:

Franklin on why he didn't play Kodi Burns: ``I didn't think it was Chris. I didn't see him making a lot of mistakes. It wasn't his deal. Kodi has some talent. He has things he can do. This wasn't it."

Pump the brakes on that for a second. Franklin was correct that Todd didn’t make any mistakes (i.e. interceptions) but he also had some big incompletions during the MSU game. There is also the fact that he was 4 for 9 on 3rd Down Pass attempts (only 2 for 1st downs) and the bigger issue: 2 key fumbles.

But hey, Tony Franklin didn’t see him making a lot of mistakes.

There’s also the part about the Southern Miss game where Kodi was essentially brought in to fail and I wasn’t the only person who saw that:

I agree with truth hurts that Kodi Burns was set up for failure yesterday. I don't mean that Tony Franklin's goal was to negatively affect Burns' standing. It's just that he had a very slim chance to really help himself or his team when given the nod in the third quarter.
Auburn's offense was gaining momentum in the first half with Chris Todd under center. Then Burns comes in to open the third quarter, goes three-and-out and the offense really was never the same. I can understand what Franklin is thinking there -- he genuinely likes Burns and thinks he's a talent -- but the timing was detrimental.

Franklin almost admitted to as much in the post game:

Tony Franklin on his (curious) decision to play Kodi Burns more during the second half:
``I just felt at halftime: OK, if we get a stop I'm going to go with Kodi for a series and let him get in and see what happens," Franklin said. ``It never did click for him. We broke our rhythm in the second half. A lot of that was our fault for not doing things at the right time."

There is also the typical Franklin double speak as to why Kodi was brought in to the UT game:

Franklin says Chris Todd was "perfect" on 27 of 28 plays prior to Kodi being subbed in. So why did Burns replace Todd during the first half: "Because that was what the head coach wanted to do. He wanted to bring him in. We had only scored seven points – we had scored seven and the defense had scored seven."

Yet in most other accounts, Tuberville makes it a point to assert that, no, it wasn’t:

Although Franklin said he was directed by Tuberville to play Burns at the start of the second half, Tuberville was adamant that it was solely Franklin's call to put Burns into the game late in the fourth quarter.

"That showed me that Tony has more confidence in him," Tuberville said.

So which was it?

We also got Franklin after the LSU game the absence of Kodi:

``Kodi got a lot of reps this week in practice. Basically for me, it's a feel thing. I felt like Chris had played well and competitive all night and thought he gave us the best chance to win. There was a time in the second half where I thought about it for some of the zone-read stuff and just never did it.

Just speculating out loud, but it’s possible that Franklin decision NOT to play Kodi ultimately led to Tuberville FORCING Franklin to play him versus UT.

You get the point though with the quotes above. Ultimately, Auburn fans know, Franklin was gone, Todd’s role diminished, and Burns took over the team for the rest of the season.

Some sad facts remain. Kodi Burns has yet to win an SEC game as a starter and has only (the homecoming win against UT-Martin) win under his belt. That only increases the doubt in his ability and let’s the door remain cracked for folks to clamor for Rollison or Caudle.

But honestly, Burns hasn’t been given a fair chance to show that he can actually LEAD the team. For the first half of 2008, it was split between him and Todd. Where Todd got to feast on snacky-cakes likes ULM and Southern Miss and get his confidence up, Burns was left to deal with Alabama, UGA, and West Virginia.

While Todd got praise for doing very little by Franklin; Burns got berated for not having good mechanics or not progressing his reads.

While Todd in the first half of the season had the support of Tony Franklin and was familiar with his offense; Burns in the second half had to deal with his third system in less than a year (Borges/Franklin/Ensminger) and that “offense” was that weird “Nalsminger” Hybrid that made every Auburn fan die a little bit inside while we watched it slowly drag our season down.

I know Football isn’t fair, but good night Elizabeth, that would be a tough situation for even John Elway to succeed in.

So here we are, gearing up for the 2009 season. A new OC is at the helm (the 4th in 2 seasons for Burns).

Let’s look at the QB competition. I’m immediately DQ-ing Barrett Trotter and until Tyrik Rollison actually gets a 36832 Zip Code, I’m not including him. Todd? He’s also out.

It basically boils down to Burns vs Caudle.

Kodi is 6’2/209. While Caudle is 6’3/199. That 6’2 is a little generous for Kodi, so let’s just agree that Caudle has the height advantage.

Kodi has the edge playing wise. That can’t be argued. Good or bad. Kodi has more playing experience than Caudle.

Ultimately, however, it’s going to be Gus Malzhan’s call as to who’s name is called against Louisiana Tech. He’s at least familiar with Burns, having recruited him to come to Arkansas when he was the Razorbacks OC.

As with anything in the new coaching staff, trying to read between the lines and get some actual insider information is like pulling teeth.

CGM has said a few things on Kodi:

"I think he's familiar with what we're going to do. I think he's familiar with me. I know he's capable of being a very good quarterback. He has had three coordinators in two years, and that's tough on any quarterback."

CGM has at least said what he’s looking for:

"We're a quarterback-oriented system, and I think you've got to have a guy that's the leader," he said. "So that's what we're looking for."

and later

"It's not just the physical part of execution, but it's the guy who helps you score points," Malzahn said. "I'm looking for a guy who's not only a good player, but a good leader, and somebody who makes the guys around him better than they really are."

Again, maybe I’m sunshine pumping, but that sounds like Kodi Burns to me. Burns running ability give him that extra threat and “helps you score the most points”.

As for the leadership? I’ve yet to see a Kodi Burns interview where he came off as brash, whiny, or discontent. Every time I hear him, at least in interviews, he seems calm and respectful. Ready to learn and ready to just do his part to help his team win. However, I’m sure Neil Caudle is the same way.

This A-Day game wasn’t any help in making the race any clearer:

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who matched last year's five 40-yard-plus plays with five on Saturday, said the battle between Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle will continue through the summer. It's a draw, Malzahn said. Caudle had better passing stats Saturday. Burns was the quarterback for the first three touchdowns in a game in which the offense beat the defense 57-31 using a scoring system that awarded points for big plays.

He’s also weighed in on his initial takes on both QBs:

On Kodi Burns
``He's got a great attitude right now. He's ready to get to spring.''

On Neil Caudle
``He's a rhythm quarterback. He has a really good arm.''

But one thing DOES seem clear. There won’t be a two-headed monster behind center:

``Ideally, we'll go into the season with a `guy.' I can't say that will happen.''

But is it affecting Kodi the same way it did last year? When Franklin was riding him constantly?

Kodi Burns said he's at peace with whatever decision Malzahn makes.

"I'm really not too much worried about it," Burns said. "I know this position comes with that pressure and I've learned over the years to be able to handle that and have a strong head. All I can do is just leave it in God's hands. I know that I did my best and I can be pleased with that."

Mature words for just a junior. In a bit of blogging that seems to be oddly prescient from Jay Tate in 2007:

A few readers disagree with my assertion that Kodi Burns' best-cast career scenario now mirrors Jason Campbell's: Two years of badness, one year of pretty good play, one year of MVP play. Look, we're almost finished with Year One of Badness. Do you really think Burns will be mistaken for Andre Woodson or Matt Ryan next year?
I'm not trashing the kid. Not by a long shot. He's 18, I know that, and he certainly has a LONG time to refine his skills. What I'm saying is that Auburn (and others) talked about Burns like he was ready. The coaches chose to play him as a true freshman, which indicated that they thought he was ready to contribute in some way. Now Blake Field is the backup. Why not leave Burns on the scout team and let him learn like every single Tuberville quarterback before him?
If Field was good enough to be the backup all along, why burn a year of Burns' eligibility? It seems wasteful.

Well, we’ve now ended those “two years of badness”. So can we expect that “one year of pretty good play”? I hope so.

Here’s to hoping 2009 for Kodi Burns will keep Auburn thinking of this:


Friday, June 19, 2009

Quick AU Summer Ball Update


Just a quick look around at some current Auburn Tigers making a bit of noise in the various Summer Ball League’s around the country.

The Cotuit Keetlers have a preview of the upcoming season, singling out Kevin Patterson and his solid year last year:

The 2009 Kettleers include four returning veterans including first baseman Kevin Patterson, who blasted four home runs and drove in 27 runs during the 2008 season, leading him to be named the Kettleers’ MVP and a West Division All-Star.

Trent Mummey had a big game this past Tuesday for the Harwhich Mariners; proving to be the difference maker:

Auburn's Trent Mummey hit a walkoff homer with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning to give Harwich a 2-1 Cape Cod Baseball League victory over Orleans last night at Whitehouse Field.

Mummey had doubled and scored the Mariners first run in the second inning on a Joe Loftus (Vanderbilt) fielder's choice.

Two Auburn Players are playing for the Falmouth Commodores and one writer thinks the Hunter Morris and Brian Fletcher will be the key for the ‘dores offense. However, Morris will be missing a few games as he tries out for Team USA, however, that’s nothing new to the team:

Chad Bettis, a right-handed pitcher from Texas Tech, Hunter Morris, a first baseman from Auburn and Kyle Winkler, a right-handed pitcher from TCU are trying out for Team USA.

The trio will participate in trials thru June 24, which includes drills and scrimmages. Following that period the Team USA roster will be trimmed from 36 to 22 players. If they are not selected, they will have the option of returning to play for the Commodores.

That scenario is familiar to Dunn.

“We have been through it before. In 2004 we got Jacoby Ellsbury after he was not asked to play [for Team USA]. That worked out very well; he had a successful season and we consider him a Commodore for life. He speaks very fondly of his time on the team,” says Dunn.

Tony Caldwell has found a Summer home with the Waynesboro (VA) Generals of the Valley Baseball League. A team that counts current MLBers Brandon Inge and Mike Lowell as alumni. He won’t be alone either. He’ll be joined by fellow Tigers Casey McElroy and Adam Purdy.

Caldwell and McElroy’s are on absolute tears right now. C-Mac is hitting .409 through 6 games and Caldwell is a smooth .381 behind the plate.

Caldwell is already leading the team in *deep breath* AVG, RBI, Hits, HRs, HBPs and At Bats.




Too much information for just a 3 strikes this morning so we have the full count.


1) WAR EAGLE STEVE - In the wake of all the potential losses (player-wise) coming Auburn's way after the draft, the Tigers did get a surprising present. A shiny new pitcher. RHP Stephen Kohlscheen (good luck pronouncing THAT Auburn Network guys) a JUCO guy from Norman, OK by the way of Cowley Community College in Kansas. Major League Scouts must love him because he was selected out of high school (Marlins/43rd Round) and during the 2009 draft last week the Phillies selected him (30th Round).

Kohlscheen is the son of scout Brian Kohlscheen, who is the Phillies' central regional supervisor. Something odd though, he apparently, was going to sign with Arkansas and we managed to steal him. This article from WholeHogSports has him listed as one of their potential signees. Weird I know.

Kohlscheen went 9-3 with an ERA of 2.80. He led the Cowley pitching staff in strikeouts (73) and was second on the team in innings pitched (70 2/3). He finished his two seasons at Cowley with a record of 13-7, while striking out 115 and walking only 42.

His Fastball apparently tops out a 93 which is pretty solid.


2) MORE HONORS FOR THE TIGERS - Trent Mummey was rewarded with a Rawlings Gold Glve a earlier this week. (Not an actual gold glove, though that would be sweet):


Mummey, who started all 56 games in 2009 and was also named to the SEC All-Defensive Team, had an astounding .995 fielding percentage this past season, leading Auburn's outfielders with seven outfield assists and 178 putouts while committing just a single error.


The award, which is in its third year, goes to the player recognized by coaches across the country as the best defensive player at his position in the nation.


3) SANDERS IS ROCKING - Joseph Sanders is officially a Rocky and inking a deal with the club:

He was one of 27 Rockies to do so, including Alabama slugger Kent Matthes, who was selected one round earlier than Sanders and led the nation in home runs. Both will report to the Rockies’ short-season affiliate, the Tri-City Dust Devils, in Pasco, Wash.


Good breakdown of Malzhan's Spread.

Yummie. In-State Cupcakes for Football.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is Auburn vs Alabama too extreme?



Alabama is one of those odd little states in the union. Especially when it comes to sports and following said sports. Unlike our neighbors to the north, south, and east, there isn't a pro sports team that the whole state can rally and unite behind.

That's one ideal that separates the AU/UA rivalry against say, UGA/UT fans. Because, for the most part, while UGA/GT might have "Good Ole Fashioned Hate" they can at least be united, football-wise, by the Falcons.

So this lack of a pro sports team, causes College Sports to become our pro sports. It fills that void and makes CFB fans in this state almost ravenous and bloodthirsty. Mike Bolton of the Birmingham News recently wrote a little piece saying that this fervent love is now launching into "extreme" territories and is unhealthy.

However, I think Bolton's piece is flawed from the start:

I went to al.com to take a look at the reaction of fans. I snickered at those that referred to Alabama as UAT because they thought it was clever and would anger Alabama fans. I did the same for the pompous Alabama fans who referred to Auburn fans as "Barners" and delighted in problems on The Plain.

See, that's mistake One. Don't use "al.com" as a barometer to measure AU/UA fans. The internet is for jack-asses. Plain and simple. Especially message boards. It's that anonymity. You would say pretty much anything you want on an internet message board, basically because you can. No one will call you out on it. You might get "flamed" or possibly blacklisted, but there are a few real world repercussions. Lumping in all AU/UA fans into one group and assumption based on internet chatter? That's akin to saying all teenage males who post on the internet love anime and poop jokes based on some perusals of 4Chan.

Bolton continues:

In most states the love of college football is a healthy diversion from the rigors of daily life. I don't believe that is true in Alabama. It is often said that football is a religion in Alabama but I don't believe that is true, either. In religion the Baptists don't sit around dreaming that the Methodists will suffer horrendous indignities. The Methodists don't call radio shows to express their glee if a Baptist church has inner turmoil.

Again, it's not a good use of the metaphor. Baptists and Methodists don't act that way because they are BOTH members of not one but two groups: Christians and Protestants. AU/UA fans would be more like Shi'a and Sunni Muslims or just simply Catholics/Protestants. It's funny with the Shi'a/Sunni scenario. I used to joke with friends about Alabama's devotion to Bear Bryant. So much so that buildings and streets bear his name and statues are erected for him in honor. It does remind me of some other worldly place. I wonder what that could be:


Ah, yes. Tikrit, Tuscaloosa. Pretty close.

Imagine for a second that Alabamians monitored every move made by politicians in Montgomery and Washington with the same fervor they monitor every move made in Tuscaloosa and Auburn. I think it's safe to say that if that were the case many Alabamians would not be suffering the indignities of losing their long-held jobs and seeing foreclosure signs posted in their yards.

That's another unfair assumption. I would say that most Alabamians DO care what goes on in Washington and Montgomery. They are also pretty informed of those actions as well. It's not the citizens fault that, in this state, we work under the Opus that is the Alabama Constitution. Or the fact that the Legislature in only in session a few months out of the year (College Football is 365). Alabamians, politically, actually have it pretty good. We have a competent Governor, we have an ok elected body, and at least our Washington representatives aren't making fools of themselves on the House Floor:

But that later part of that paragraph is what semi-irks me. Those two items are completely unrelated. So by NOT following my Auburn Tigers, I could have avoided foreclosure or avoided being laid off? Preposterous. That's a blanket statement that has absolutely NO merit or legs to stand on.

The fascination with college football is unhealthy in this state(A). It has left the realm of good-natured fun and evolved into hatred(B). If you don't believe that, tune to a call-in sports radio show or log onto one of the al.com sports sites one day(C). Forget about Alabamians hating someone because of the color of their skin. Many Alabamians hate someone because of the color of their jerseys(D).

We have lost sight that this is all about kids playing a game. The fact that so many grown men and women would like to see kids at an opposing school suffer borders on sickness.

A) TIme to go off book a little bit. Is it unhealthy? Yes. Does your own paper fuel that obsession? Most definitely. Just searching AL.Com through google revealed 20,600 pages with the term "Auburn Tigers" on them.

Bob Riley? Alabama's Governor? Well he only gets a mere 6,190 mentions.

Nick Saban? 10,200 pages.

Barack Obama? 6,750 pages.

B) Evolved in hatred? I'll get into this later. Hate is a harsh term to use.

C) I refrain from listening to call-in sports shows. I'd suggest most Auburn and Alabama fans do the same. Especially Paul Finebaum. All Finebaum amounts to is bear-bating with a microphone. It's incendiary and meant to elicit reactions. That's all. It's the same as lumping all Republicans into the same boat as Rush Limbaugh listeners. 

D) This is what I find the most egregious. Alabamians, as a whole, and in my experience, are very sensitive to the term "hate". It's a part of our culture. A part that most are ashamed about. There are so many Civil Rights moments and landmarks and milestones that took place within our borders that there's not a day that goes by that I'm not reminded of just how wrong our state once was. Has it been corrected? To an extent. But this isn't a political blog, it's a sports blog. I'll just leave it at this. Be VERY cautious when using the terms "hate" and "Alabamians" in the same sentence. Throw in a dash of "skin color" to the mix and well, that's just a bad analogy.

Let's it boil it down to what it really is. Dislike. Not Hate. Hate is something you feel unflinchingly. It's something you are engrained with and something  that doesn't go away. Hate is ugly, murderous, despicable. Hate is not the term I'd use to describe the AU/UA rivalry.

Dislike is. Do I HATE Alabama fans? No. Do I dislike them? Mostly. Dislike enables me to make exceptions. I have some good friends that bleed Crimson. If I HATED Alabama, then these men and women would never be my friends to begin with. Would I never stop to help a stranded motorist if they had an "S-The Coach" Sticker? Of course not. They are people first, UA fans second.

We don't HATE each other, AU/UA fans. We dislike each other. That's the end of it.

As for this, "Kids playing a game" malarky? Save it. When these "kids" bring in almost $60 Million a year in revenue? That's when it stops being a game and starts to become business.

You want honest, good natured football? Go to a game on Friday Night. No, don't go to Hoover/Spain Park/Vestavia Hills, etc. Come down to rural Alabama on a Friday Night. Frisco City/Notasulga/Pike County etc. That's the "game" in it's purest form.

As for this sickness? If we are AU/UA fans are hooked and "sick" on this rivalry, then your very paper and Birmingham Media is our enabler.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

3 Strikes: Weekend Wrap Up


Strike 1 – Two more current Auburn Tigers were drafted and 2 more potential Auburn Tigers were also drafted. Paul Burnside (39/1183) and Taylor Thompson (44/1133) were both taken by the White Sox. While signees Cody Martin (31/942/Twins) and Cole Nelson (45/1369/Rays) were also selected. That ups the grand total to 4 current players taken in the MLB draft and 6 potential players (signees) drafted. Good luck to everyone. We probably won’t know for a little while which players are going to officially leave and which ones could potentially come back.

Strike 2- So you’re saying there’s a chance? Brandon Jacobs didn’t sound like he was 100% committed to skipping college and joining the Red Sox just yet:

I would like to make my status clear regarding my potential professional baseball career.

As of now, I am still committed to Auburn University until there is an agreement made with the Boston Red Sox. As you know, all players must give a final number value before anything is done and then the organization needs to negotiate the numbers before signing. We are in the middle of negotiating with the Boston Red Sox at this time.

If we are [fortunate] to make an agreement with the Boston Red Sox, I will make my final decision at that point.

Brandon. Just a word of advice. Yes, the money would be awesome, but how much better would it be if you could actually IMPROVE your draft stock. Don’t take my word for it. Take it from guys like Kentrail Davis at Tennessee or better yet just look at what Jared Mitchell did at LSU. He went from being drafted in the 10th Round going into college to becoming a First Round pick  (22nd Overall) AND getting the benefits of playing/experiencing college. Better yet, look no further than a possible Auburn teammate, Hunter Morris. Out of High School Morris was a SECOND ROUND PICK by those very same Red Sox. Now, well he won’t get his named called until the 2011 draft, but I see no reason why he wouldn’t still be a first or second round selection.

So how about coming to Auburn, playing football, and even if that doesn’t work out for you, you can still go the Gabe Gross route and just focus on baseball full time. Now, Gabe ain’t the best Major Leaguer, but he’s still in the Show and that’s better than most can say.


Strike 3- Some other wrapping up:

-Hunter Morris was selected to the USA Baseball National Team trials again. Here’s to hoping Hunter has a breakout season next year with Auburn (in what will probably be his last on the Plains).

-I’ll provide a detailed list later, but Summer Ball should be starting soon, and the best and arguably most prestigious league (Cape Cod) already has some Tigers on their rosters:

Trent Mummey – Harwich Mariners

Kevin Paterson – Cotuit Keetlers

Brian Fletcher/Hunter Morris – Falmouth Commodores

Good luck to them this Summer. I’ll try to see if and where everyone else is playing this summer.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

AUPPL Draft Update


30 Rounds into the MLB Draft and only two former Tigers heard their name called. However, the draft hit the Tigers hard when it came to “potential” players.

War Damn Joe 

Joseph Sanders was selected in the 5th round (151st overall) to the Colorado Rockies. An interesting part of the MLB Draft; Once all the glitz and glamour of Day One is over, the Draft reverts back to its boring roots. It’s a conference call. Plain and simple. It can also get pretty tedious. Also, when a team selects a player, it goes ahead and lists where they see him playing. In Sanders case it was a 3B. Here’s his scouting video. That’s a pretty high selection for Sanders, so I would be surprised to see him back on the Plains.

Sanders is the highest draft pick out of Auburn since Josh Donaldson was picked in the supplemental round by the Chicago Cubs in 2007.

Atta Boy Shu

Scott Shuman was also selected. However, I almost missed him because MLB.com had him listed by his first name: Rutherford. So you have to excuse me when I glazed over “Rutherford Shuman” and didn’t think twice. Scott was selected in the 19th Round (589 overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s actually the second time he was selected in the draft. He was picked in the 23rd round of the 2006 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. So his time at Auburn did help his draft stock a little bit.

Auburn has now had at least one player selected in the draft in each of the past 35 drafts, dating to the 1975 season. It is tied with Arkansas for the second-longest streak in the SEC behind Georgia's 37-year run.

Two Big Surprises

First surprise? Auburn Signee Nick Franklin (Lake Brantley HS Longwood, FL) was selected in the First Round by the Mariners ( overall). Why the surprise? Probably because he wasn’t on any of the Draft Projections. Not even, the MLB’s own projection. His scouting report wasn’t exactly high praise either:

He's a real "baseball player" with solid tools across the board.

That's all he is ... solid. He doesn't have any tools that jump out at you.

It seems every Draft class has a few middle infielders from Florida who don't wow you with tools, but impress with how they play the game. Franklin might be in that group with a solid, if unspectacular, tool set. Nothing jumps out at you tools-wise, but he just goes out and does a good job and can do a little bit of everything. He won't be the first prep shortstop to go in the Draft, but his kind of solid all-around profile usually gets taken early.

That’s not exactly screaming, “WOW”. Still it’s not that big a loss. Considering the fact that our current shortstop not only a Freshman but an All-American at that, I’d say we are set at that position for about 2 more years.

Second Surprise? How far Luke Bailey dropped. The Catching prospect, fresh off Tommy John surgery, was thought by some to still be a first round guy. However, he dropped to the 4th Round (139 overall). The scouts still love him. He still can come back to Auburn, rehab one year, play two, and leave a potential first round guy. However, 4th Round Money isn’t anything to sneeze at and he’s likely gone. Then again, it’s a little early to tell.

If he does sign, again, it’s not that big a deal for the current Auburn Tigers. Tony Caldwell (our current catcher) was, to me, one of the most pleasant surprises from last year. Considering the fact that he was thrust into a starting role after the loss of Ryan Jenkins for the year and handled the job surprisingly well.

The Incoming

The draft did take some other Auburn signees:

Drew Madrigal, a late JUCO addition, from Paloma Valley HS/Menifee, California, was selected in 11th Round by the Padres.

Garrett Bush, a High School Pitcher from Stanton Prep HS/Jacksonville, FL, was selected in the 15th Round by the Orioles. Bush has a nasty changeup that was clocked at dropping from 88pm to around 60mph earlier this year and was evidenced in his scouting video.

Right now, I’d say Madrigal has about a 30% chance of coming to Auburn, but Bush was about an 80% chance. Remember last year, Adam Purdy was selected in the 35th Round by the Twins, but elected to come to Auburn. Yes, there is a big difference money-wise from the 15th and 35th rounds.

Madrigal could surprise folks by heading to Auburn. Especially because he would only be required to stay one year.

Baseball affects Football

One of the biggest surprises of the draft was that it cost Auburn a football player. Brandon Jacobs, a Running Back out of Parkview HS in Georgia, decided to play baseball for the Boston Red Sox instead. He was selected in 10th Round by the club and said he was offered 2nd Round money (between $500-800,000) to sign. Did he make the right choice? Maybe. Here’s what one Sox Blog had to say:

In the tenth round of the 2009 draft, the Red Sox used the 318th pick overall to select leftfielder Brandon Jacobs from Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia. Jacobs was a top football recruit who signed with Auburn to play running back. He once said he is focused more on football than baseball, but recently has stated that he would probably sign for slot money for rounds seven and up. A big kid at 5’11”, 240 pounds, Jacobs has plus raw power with natural lift in his swing. He hit .511 his senior season for baseball powerhouse Parkview, hitting 7 home runs and posting a 1.307 slugging percentage. He ran slow 60-yard times this spring (7.56 seconds), but has run the 40-yard dash in under 4.5 seconds in football workouts

That 5’11 height is a little odd. Auburn had him listed at 6’1/230 lbs.

Personally, I don’t think he made the right choice, but that’s just me looking at from a baseball perspective. The Red Sox have him penciled in at LF; where you shove guys who are so-so defensively but can swing a big stick. Compare him to similar major leaguers who fit that same Defense lacking Offense bringing description:

Carlos Lee (6’2/240), Pat Burrell (6’4/235), Matt Holliday (6’4/235), Garrett Anderson (6’3/225), Ryan Ludwick (6’3/218)

Most of those guys at least have some height. Also, having seen some film, he has a short arm swing and normally tries to “muscle” the ball.


The final rounds of the draft conclude tomorrow. Follow the AUPPL on Twitter for continuous updates throughout the day.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Big Show (6/1-6/7)


Chris Bootcheck Indianapolis Indians AAA Pirates 1 Win/0.00 ERA/4K in 3 Relief Appearances.
Gabe Gross Tamp Bay Rays MLB Rays .333 avg/3 RBIs in 3 games.  
David Ross Atlanta Braves MLB Braves 1 for 3 in Sunday’s game against the Brewers. Pulled in the 8th for Brian McCann.  
Tim Hudson Atlanta Braves MLB Braves Still listed on 60 Day DL  
Steven Register Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs AAA Phillies 1 Loss, 2 ER, and only 2 Ks in 2 Appearances.
Justin Christian Norfolk Tides AAA Orioles During a 6 game span went 0-Fer 3 different games. Currently hitting .268 on the year
Tug Hulett Omaha Royals AAA Royals Hitting .111 since being sent back down to AAA Omaha on June 4th
Clete Thomas Detroit Tigers MLB Tigers Have a day Clete Thomas. Hit a go ahead Grand Slam to put the Tigers ahead on Sunday.
Levale Speigner New Orleans Zephyrs AAA Marlins 1 Win. 1 ER in 2 Appearances  
Josh Donaldson Midland Rockhouds AA Oakland Hitting .250 with 1 HR over his last 10 games.  
Brett Butts Mississippi Braves AA Braves Butts has been shut down solid. Gave up his only ER in 10 games on June 4th. But that was in a 4 inning relief appearance. 1 Win. 1 Save. .071 ERA/12 Ks in 12 Innings over his last 10 games.
Bryan Woodall South Bend Silverhawks A D-backs In his first appearance since May 21, Woodall went 1 inning and gave up 2 ER.
Russell Dixon Lexington Legends Rookie Astros Has not seen any game action since May 18th
Matt Hall Durham Bulls AAA Rays Still in a bench role. Has yet to record a hit for the month of June  
Mike Bianucci Hickory Crawdads A Rangers Still on fire. Had 3 multi hit games so far in June and has 3 HR and 5 RBIs this month alone. Monster Mike continues to Mash.
John Madden Binghamton Mets AA Mets Currently on Disabled List  


Monday, June 8, 2009

AUPPL Draft Prep


The Major League Draft starts tonight and outside of coveted Catching prospect Luke Bailey, there aren’t many Tigers expected to be called the first day. Nonetheless here are a list of current AU Players eligible for the MLB draft:

NAME Position Class
Paul Burnside P SR
Grant Dayton P So
Austin Hubbard P Jr
Micheal Hurst P Jr
Ryan Jenkins C Sr
Bradley Ray OF Jr
Ben Jones OF Sr
Joseph Sanders IF Jr
Scott Shuman P Jr
Taylor Thompson P Jr
Kris West P Sr

Shuman was previously selected by the Brewers out of high school and yes, that’s a ton of pitchers that are leaving Auburn. But outside of Burnside, West, and Jones, all of them could “possibly” return if their draft positions aren’t high enough.

The main names Auburn should keep an ear out for are Joseph Sanders, Grant Dayton, and Austin Hubbard. To have these guys return would be a huge boost to Auburn going into the 2010 season.

Other names to listen for are the members of Auburn’s incoming draft class:

2009 Auburn Baseball Signees
(Name Ht. Wt. Pos. B/T Previous School Hometown)
Luke Bailey 6-0 195 C R/R Troup County HS LaGrange, GA
Justin Bryant 5-11 175 RHP/IF R/R Itawamba CC Oneonta, AL
Garrett Bush 6-5 190 RHP/C R/R Stanton Prep HS Jacksonville, FL
Nick Franklin 6-1 175 IF S/R Lake Brantley HS Longwood, FL
Cody Martin 6-2 200 IF L/R Stephens County HS Toccoa, GA
Patrick Merkling 6-1 170 LHP L/L Etowah HS Woodstock, GA
Cole Nelson 6-7 230 LHP L/L Des Moines Area CC Edina, MN
Patrick Savage 6-2 210 IF/OF R/R Greater Atlanta Christian Suwanee, GA
Creede Simpson 6-2 180 OF/IF R/R Northwest Florida State College Auburn, AL
Slade Smith 6-2 185 RHP R/R Fort Payne HS Fort Payne, AL
Ryan Welke 6-4 195 C R/R Rickards HS Tallahassee, FL

Bailey and Drew Madrigal, RHP (Paloma Valley HS/Menifee, Calif.) have, according to some sources, the best chances of being drafted.

Good Luck to all the guys.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tony Franklin's Traveling Circus

Tony Franklin "broke his silence" in the Montgomery Advertiser over the weekend. I'm sure every other Auburn blog will mention Josh Moon's story, which you can read in it's entirety here. It's going to raise a few eyebrows but after reading and re-reading and going over Josh Moon's piece, I can honestly say: Auburn made the right choice in letting Franklin go.

The article itself doesn't really have anything new to say about the Franklin Saga. But it basically boils down to 3 main points about Franklin: 1) Franklin had reservations about taking the job 2) Franklin was considered an outsider to the rest of the staff 3) Franklin loves the Sunbelt and is glad he out of Auburn and then has about 3 main bullet points about the former Auburn staff: 1) they didn't trust the administration 2) they didn't trust each other and 3) they were worried about Nick Saban.

Rather than break down the article piece by piece like I've done in the past, I'd like to revisit the "Tony Franklin Spread" and talk about why it was the wrong choice for Auburn. Why it failed at Auburn, and ultimately, why Tony Franklin and his "Snake Oil Offense" can't truly be trusted.

Before the 08 Season began, I was all about some Tony Franklin. The interviews I sat in on painted him as engaging and cocksure and I saw first hand what he was able to do at Troy. But in reality, Tony Franklin is a whiny doubter who plays the "outsider" card to feel like a braggart.

Throughout the Josh Moon article talks about being that "outsider":

"I don't have anyone on that staff that I'd call a friend now," Franklin said. "I never fit into that group. I was never welcomed into that group. And that's fine. When I was brought in, they did what they thought they should be doing to help me. When things weren't working, they started doing things like they'd always done them, because that's what they knew.

"That Group" that xCTF (Ex Coach Tony Franklin) refers too is probably the Bar B Q bunch, that core group of coaches (Grann, Nall, Dunn, Tuberville, etc) that most Auburn fans had a problem with because they wouldn't change their ways. Moon mentions this, and let's Franklin get a little dig into his former coaches:

"That's all they do is pray -- and talk about praying and religion," Franklin said. "It's a constant thing with them, and it's just overwhelming at times. A lot of people use religion as a crutch, and I think that's the case there. Every word coming out of their mouths is something about religion, and most of it is just a joke.

"I don't want to come off as anti-religion or that I'm not a Christian, but the best people in the world -- the ones who do truly great things -- they just do good things for people. You don't know most of the time if they're Muslim or Christian or anything else, because they never talk about it. But it was constant with them, and it was uncomfortable sometimes. When you talk about your religion so much, it comes off as fake or phony. That's the way I think of several of those people (at Auburn) as fake."

I'm sure those last couple of quotes will be at the forefront of most Auburn fans minds. Personally, I could care less. The only point that this proves to me is that Tony Franklin felt uncomfortable, whether it be for personal and professional reasons. The main problem I have is that he never made any effort to rectify those problems. Franklin acts like he doesn't care about what other people think, but in reality he does. Take this article from 2005 (which is pre-Troy and pre-System). In it Franklin mentions what he misses about coaching:

His current job is ideal, Franklin says. He gets to do on-the-field coaching and teaching. "All the good, and I don't have to handle the bad — dealing with parents, administrators. ... The biggest thing I miss is the camaraderie with a staff.

He misses the "camaraderie". Camaraderie I’m sure he felt to some extent at Troy and thought he might get at least a bit of a Auburn.

But also notice what he calls the "bad". Dealing with Administrators, Parents, etc. I'm sorry but that's a part of Coaching. It's more than the X's and O's as they say, It's about the "Johnnies" and the "Joes". But Franklin talks about wanting camaraderie but still holding on to that ideal that he's an outsider or "hired gun"

The main problem is that Franklin tried to be two things. He complains to Josh Moon that he wasn’t “accepted” by the staff and never talked to them, never hung out with them, and never thought he was trusted by the Tuberville staff, but that’s exactly what he wanted:

I've enjoyed working with Tommy (Tuberville) and the fact that it's one of those situations like I was used to with coach (Larry) Blakeney. I know I have a job, and he allows me to do that job. I think that makes my life a lot better. I've been an entrepreneur and I've worked for myself, and I don't need somebody to point me where to go and what to do. I know how to go to work, and I need that freedom to be able to do my job, and he's given that to me. It's been fun."

That’s Franklin himself, six months into the job. Talking about what he’s enjoyed about it.

So you have a man who prefers to work alone. Who was allowed to work alone and given the freedom he needed and actually wanted. Then when the results on the field weren’t up to par, he lost his cool, came down from his mountaintop and:

I wasn't going to sit and watch it all sink with my thumb in my mouth. I was going to take every approach I knew to make it work. And I really think it worked."

Franklin went out for practice that day and "coached every position on the field like I was 25 years old again. I was running routes the best a 51-year-old can run them. I think I got most of them back."

Doing the exact same thing he hated personally happening to him: Having a coach tell him what to do and how to do his job. Of course, it backfired, but he still had Tuberville’s support:

"Coach Tuberville made the statement that this was my offense," Franklin recalled. "He said they needed to jump on board or find somewhere else to go."

So here we have Franklin, who doesn’t play well with others, who was given a long leash, and a wide berth, just because of his personal philosophy, abrasive personality, whatever, telling a group of coaches how to do their job. Something he hadn’t done for however many games prior, but when the backs were to the wall he decided to change his M.O:

"There were some things the players and coaches needed to hear about being responsible. I had owned up to my responsibility and publicly tried to take the blame every time I was asked. It was time for them to do the same.

"Some of them hated me for it, I'm sure, but it worked. I made an attempt that I either won the football team and got them back in my hands, or I lost them

But complains to Josh Moon:

"I don't have anyone on that staff that I'd call a friend now," Franklin said. "I never fit into that group. I was never welcomed into that group. And that's fine. When I was brought in, they did what they thought they should be doing to help me. When things weren't working, they started doing things like they'd always done them, because that's what they knew.

"They were doing what was best for them. You can't blame them for any of that, for the way they reacted to me or anything."

It doesn’t happen both ways. You can’t sit and say you want to be left alone as a head coach, then when you’re offense is failing, decided that THEN is the time to react. Telling all these coaches, who have been together around 10 years that the job they are doing is WRONG. That they can’t coach and here’s the “hired gun” to take care of it.

Also you can’t sit and chide coaches like Hugh Nall at one practice when, before the season began you were saying:

We have one of the top offensive line coaches in the country (Hugh Nall). Our guys are going to be very tough.”

Franklin is calculating. He knows what he’s doing. He plays the poor pitiful me excuse, but he knows exactly how to work a situation to his advantage:

Watching Tony Franklin pack his car in front of the complex after being fired.
*The grad/student assistants later chided us for taking Franklin's "dignity" by taking pictures of the situation. Franklin DID THAT ON PURPOSE, fellas. (10/8/08)

That’s from Jay Tate’s HABOTN. Notice the red text.

But let’s be honest the real problem is this: TONY FRANKLIN COULDN’T COACH.

He was a wishy washer second guesser who gave Auburn fans gems like this:

Hell, if I was them, I'd boo. I'd boo me. I'd be angry. Everybody's expectations were high. My expectations were high. Hell, if I was a paying fan I'd be pissed. This product has not been good, and it was my product. I don't blame them for being upset. I don't take it personal. When they said how wonderful you were, I didn't take that personal because I knew it wasn't true. I said all along that I wasn't very smart and y'all thought I was joking. Now you know. It's pretty true." 9/28

"It might be the dumbest call I've made in 10 years. It's a third-and-short call, not a third-and-long call. I was being a total dumbass. That's what I was. 9/27

Here’s a quick rundown, off the top of my head and without citations and hyperlinks why I, personally, feel Franklin couldn’t coach:

-Having offensive lineman lose 20 lbs each

-Abandoning the Ben Tate I formation that had been dominating Vanderbilt for 2 quarters

-Bringing Chris Todd’s noodle arm into the fray, and convincing the staff he was still a solid QB (he is, but he’s not 100% or even 80%)

-The entire Tennessee gameplan

-Many many questionable calls, and terrible clock management against LSU

But I think the real problem with Franklin is that the offense that he’s “patented” is a sham. It’s a High School offense that he’s managed to sell versions of to various colleges. It’s a offense that Franklin himself says works better with inferior talent:

This works very well in high school and at the Division II and Division I-AA level of college football because at that level teams don’t have the numbers on defense. It’s more difficult at this level because the good teams are so deep in defensive linemen.

But even then, if you are playing against a better defense, then you have to just hope and pray it could work:

But in games where I knew we were overmatched physically, I spent the first quarter and third quarter just running plays hoping to get their defense tired. Then if we could just keep it close we might have a chance in the fourth quarter

What coach would legitimately buy into an offense that’s main proponent says “might have a chance in a fourth quarter”? That’s not exactly exuding confidence.

But the main thing I have a problem with in Franklin’s offense (besides the fact that it’s a dumb downed version of Hal Mumme’s Air Raid) is that people are buying into it. Teams are finding success with this this “system” but which schools are succeeding? The ones with money:

Business is good — he has grossed approximately $170,000 this year.

His initial consultation fee is $1,500. He then charges a daily rate or a season-long rate if it is for the rest of the year.

But what happens when schools don’t have that money:

Franklin says about half the time, individual boosters or booster clubs pay the fees. That's fine for a school like Hoover, located in an affluent area of Birmingham, where 94% of the students go on to college and whose booster club raises more than $300,000 a year.

But what about a financially challenged program?

"Why get a consultant when they have me?" says Lexie Spurlock, who has coached for 12 years in Chicago's Public School League at Morgan Park. "Fees like that are not feasible at any Chicago public school."

But it’s also a system that let’s a team with the most money win:

Friday night, Hoover lost to in-state opponent Tuscaloosa County 39-28. Both teams use Franklin's system. Franklin allows current clients to "blackball" an opponent from learning his system.

I know times have changed since that 05 article that I referenced, that Franklin doesn’t have a stake in the company thanks to Auburn, the SEC, and:

its ridiculous, nit-picky rules and regulations on everything you do.

It sounds to me like someone is still a little bit bitter because their love of money, cost them their cash cow:. Yes, greed, that’s why Franklin took the Auburn job to begin with:

Franklin is angrier with himself, saying he was seduced by the money and allowed his ego to get the best of him instead of "using common sense."

Ultimately, I’m glad we are rid of Franklin. The Josh Moon story isn’t much of a story at all. Will Collier breaks down that aspect here. But everytime I think of Franklin I think of this:


Thursday, June 4, 2009



1. Ok, I know I promised that I had written my final blog post about the Big Cat Weekend (BCW), but of course, the story continues and won’t die (not that there’s anything wrong with that…That WAS the ultimate point of the Big Cat Weekend…to keep continuing and rolling and be talked about and blogged about and buzzed about continue like some ridiculous football Ouroboros)

The latest chapter? Lache Seastrunk says he’s sorry for calling out Nick Saban.

My first reaction? Bewilderment.

Bewilderment that this was a story first of all. Then equal parts bewilderment and bemusement that the apology even happened.

Good for him that he apologized? Sure, we’ll go with that. I honestly don’t know what to think. Yes, it shows a bit of humility and knowing that your actions have consequences, but it was all in good fun. I doubt Nick Saban truly cares, as he sits like Montgomery Burns on top of a hill in West Vance, counting his money and thinking he’s controlling the world.

Is it a good thing for Auburn? Not really. Especially when phrases like this:

I got caught up in the atmosphere, the environment, and did something I truly regret."

I’m not sure I’d want any recruit doing something “regretful” on a recruiting visit.

2. Good Job C-Mac. Casey McElroy was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All American:

This is the second straight season that Auburn has had at least one player tabbed a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American as Grant Dayton, Brian Fletcher and Hunter Morris all earned the distinction following the 2008 season.

So again, congrats C-Mac.

3. Like Bailey Watch- The waiting begins. Will he stay or will he go? On June 9th the MLB Draft begins and all Auburn eyes should be focused on the Troup County Catcher and how high he goes in the MLB Draft:

Bailey was thought of as one of the better high school catchers in a Draft class that has some depth in that area, but Tommy John surgery on his right elbow put his future somewhat in doubt. When healthy, he's a solid, not spectacular, catch-and-throw guy. At the plate, he's got good bat speed and plus power potential. He could head to Auburn and rehab there, but a team could decide to take a chance on him, knowing the success of the surgery these days, and work to get him back in form within its system.

It’s still up in the air. If he comes to Auburn, he’s ours for at least 2 years. I know I’ll be tuned in this coming Tuesday.


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