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Coaches Can’t Cut Their Teeth At Auburn Anymore

gfx-they-said-it4Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs is riding high these days.  He hired Gene Chizik who in turn brought in Cam Newton who in turn led Auburn to a BCS championship.  After firing Chizik he hired his former offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, who immediately led AU back to the BCS title game last season.  And after firing Tony Barbee two weeks ago, he immediately coughed up a hefty sum for new basketball coach Bruce Pearl.

From a fan’s point of view that’s exactly what an athletic director should do — bring in coaches who win and be willing to pay for them.

This week, Jacobs made it clear he’s done trying to find bargains:


“The university is committed to winning and the administrators have given me the latitude to go out and do what we need to from a financial resource.  This is no longer a place you come in and cut your teeth.  You come in with proven track records, particularly in our major sports, and proven success…

People know we’re committed to winning championships because of what’s happened to football the last few years and these guys sit and talk to me about, ‘Are you as committed to do this in basketball as you are in football?’  Absolutely, yeah, and I’ve demonstrated it.  And we’re going to continue to demonstrate it because we’re going to win championships.  That’s what I’m committed to.”


Sounds good, but there are two things to keep in mind.  First, Jacobs has just backed himself into a corner if he has to hire another football or basketball coach down the road.  There will be no up-and-comers, only guys with “proven track records” and “proven success.”

Second, there’s another AD in the SEC who’s made splashy hires that were initially met with thunderous applause from his school’s fanbase — Jeff Long of Arkansas.  But Bobby Petrino blew himself up and took the UA football program with him.  Bret Bielema has gone from a “wow” hire to an “ow” hire in just over a year.  And his big-money swoop for Missouri’s Mike Anderson has resulted in one NIT berth in three years.

The lesson?  Just because you hire someone with a proven track record, it doesn’t guarantee success.  But for Jacobs, fresh off an SEC title in football and the splashy hire of a new hoops coach, it’s easy to understand his big smile and big talk.

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NCAA Takes The Easy Way Out With A&M’s Manziel

gfx - honest opinionIn the end, it’s now pretty obvious that the NCAA really didn’t want to open the Pandora’s box otherwise known as “cash for autographs.”  The idea that the NCAA was out to get Texas A&M or Johnny Manziel?  Nope.  If they were out to get either of the two, they would have cooked up a stiffer penalty as it’s their call.

By slapping a one-half suspension on the Aggie quarterback, college sports’ governing body has created a standard penalty that future autograph claims — at least until next summer — will draw.  And it’s a pretty small penalty.

Some are claiming that this proves the NCAA had nothing on Manziel.  Well, it proves the NCAA had nothing it could use as proof that the star player took cash.  Technically, if the body believed he or a handler (buddy Nick Fitch, for example) had even asked for cash, they could have handed down a strong penalty.  That’s how gray the rule is.

Instead, the NCAA decided something had to be done.  (The “Blazing Saddles” line, “We’ve gotta protect our phoney-baloney jobs, gentlemen!” comes to mind.)  So the NCAA decided go the fallback route and slap Manziel’s wrists for not trying hard enough to stop autograph brokers from making money off of his image/signature/brand.

If someone now claims that South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney was paid for his signature and NCAA investigators find even a scintilla of incriminating evidence… a one-half suspension will likely be the result.  The same for anyone else.

A few Aggie fans — rather than breathing a sigh of relief — have already emailed this site asking, “What about (fill in the blank)?”  Again, to our knowledge, no brokers have claimed that any other players received payment for their signatures.  Is it likely any of those guys with hundreds of sequentially-numbered items on eBay were paid for their signatures?  Absolutely.  But that’s hard to prove.  As the NCAA found out with Manziel.

So now there is a small penalty attached to the violation — or the apparent violation — of this rule.  It’s a small penalty, but it’s a penalty.  When the issue arises, a related-rule will be cited rather than the bigger “you sold your signature” rule.  A small suspension will then be meted out.

Catastrophe has been averted for now.

Once the offseason rolls around, expect the NCAA to try and craft new legislation for the autograph issue.  The typical NCAA reaction to a problem is “Alright, you’ll receive a slap on the wrist, but the next guy to do this is gonna get it.”  Remember, Cam Newton was suspended for about 15 minutes of real time and then cleared to play for Auburn in 2010.  By the time the next season rolled around, the NCAA had tried to close the Newton loophole (though there are still so many holes in the NCAA rulebook that it looks like the world’s largest block of Swiss cheese).

So what do we know?

We know that autograph brokers claimed that Manziel asked for cash.  We know that the NCAA investigated.  We know that brokers said more to ESPN’s reporters than they did to the NCAA (not a surprise).  We know that the NCAA either couldn’t or didn’t want to find hard evidence proving Manziel violated this rule because that would open the door for a thousand more claims of the same nature.  And we know that the NCAA has now put a small penalty in place should new claims about other players arise.

Case closed.

Here’s hoping that when we have to write about Manziel over the next three months… it’s all about his actions on the football field, and not off it.

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WOW Headlines – 8/19/13 research reveals that Alabama has been the least penalized team in the SEC over the past six years…
LSU, Florida and Georgia have been the most penalized teams between 2007 and 2012
Auburn QB Nick Marshall — a dual-threat, juco transfer — will not compare himself to Cam Newton
Alabama coach Nick Saban says he “handle it appropriately” when he receives more details on CB Geno Smith’s weekend arrest for DUI
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin says it’s time for Commodore fans to buy tickets and support his team
Follow the SEC all year long on and

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WOW Headlines – 8/6/13

This weekend Texas A&M’s football team will bus nearly 200 miles to attend the funeral of teammate Polo Manukainiu who died in a car accident in July
Two Georgia LBs injured their thumbs on Sunday and had surgery on Monday…
James DeLoach and Davin Bellamy are both expected back in time for Georgia’s opener
Texas A&M has hired the same Birmingham law firm that worked with Auburn during the Cam Newton affair to help with its own handling of QB Johnny Manziel’s case…
Manziel is reportedly under investigation by the NCAA for taking payment to sign A&M memorabilia
LSU has reinstated RB Jeremy Hill who was given a lengthier probation after striking a man outside a Baton Rouge bar…
Hill was already on probation for a crime committed in high school…
Miles on Hill: “The reality is we all see him around here as a pretty good person.”
Follow news from around the SEC at every day

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Calling Cam: AU Turns To Heisman-Winner To Thank Ticket-Buyers

cam newton phoneEarlier this week, a number of Auburn season-ticket holders received phone calls thanking them for their support of the 2013 Tiger football team.  Those calls came from Cam Newton.

Sort of.

The former Heisman-winner at Auburn recorded a message that was used in a “robocall” campaign.  Newton’s message to the Auburn faithful:


“War Eagle!  This is Cam Newton.  I was blown away by the strong showing of the Auburn Family at A-Day to celebrate a new day of Auburn football.  Coach (Gus) Malzahn has developed a fast-paced, exciting, hard-nosed team that plays football the Auburn way.  I just wanted to personally thank you for your support of the team.  I know we will be rolling Toomer’s Corner again this fall.  Bring your friends to help us sell out every game and let’s create an atmosphere that propelled us to a national championship.  I look forward to seeing you at Jordan-Hare Stadium on August 31st for our season-opener against Washington State.  War Eagle!”


In case you’re wondering how Auburn fans plan on rolling Toomer’s Corner now that the two majestic oaks felled by Harvey Updyke have been removed, click here.  The school is planning to use strands of wire to catch the tossed toilet paper until new trees grow large enough to handle the weight on their own.

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Ex-Tiger Newton Likes What He Sees At Auburn Practice

gfx - they said itNFL quarterback and former Heisman Trophy-winner Cam Newton stopped by his old stomping grounds yesterday and took in a bit of Gus Malzahn’s practice.  He liked what he saw from his old coach as he spread out to work with the defense.  And he liked what he heard in terms of piped in noise and music:


“It’s always going to be tough for any coach whose heart has been around the offense for so long to have to spread things around.  I use the analogy of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  There’s so much peanut butter on just one side, now you’ve got to spread out to everybody else…

If anything, I wish they were doing things (as Malzahn is now) when I was here.  The music, I love the music.  Third-down situations, it provides an excellent simulation of the game.  It’s going to be very, very intriguing to see this whole process come to fruition.”


Malzahn, of course, was Auburn’s offensive coordinator under Gene Chizik when Newton won the Heisman and led Auburn to the 2010 national championship.

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Auburn A.D. Reviewing Allegations, Chizik And Muschamp Deny Charges

gfx - they said itCharges made in a story by ESPN’s’s Selena Roberts accusing the Auburn football program of multiple violations are having a ripple effect throughout the SEC today.  Late this afternoon, Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs issued a statement saying those allegations will be reviewed.


Anytime accusations are made against Auburn, we take them seriously. We have no reason to believe these allegations are either accurate or credible. However, as a matter of procedure, we are reviewing them carefully.

It is important to note that several of the sources in this story have since indicated they were either misquoted, quoted out of context or denied the allegations.

Unfortunately, the reporter who published this story did not fully represent to us what the story was about when requesting an interview. We were only told that the reporter was working on a story about the alleged armed robbery involving four former football players, which occurred over two years ago.

We were never told the story would include allegations about academic fraud or improper benefits. Had we known that, we would have responded immediately with the statement above.


Jacobs is not the only one commenting on the story. Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik also issued a statement today taking issue with the story, calling it “long on accusation and inference, but short on facts and logic. It is noteworthy that the story comes just days before a player mentioned most prominently in the article is set to go to trial for felony armed robbery.” Former Auburn safety McNeil goes on trial Monday for felony armed robbery stemming from an incident in 2011.

Chizik took aim directly at Roberts, saying: “If there is a sad truth here, it is that there are no repercussions for bloggers who blast out widespread, venomous allegations and inferences in such an irresponsible manner.”

Cam Newton declined to answer questions but did say this: “I’m going to let the right people to talk about it.  Of course I’m concerned, but I think the truth will come out.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert called it a “newspaper story,” saying that, ” We haven’t done anything with that case because we don’t know anything about it.”

Part of the story concerned current Florida coach and former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who was accused of giving an Auburn player nearly $400 in cash.  “Totally deny it,” Muschamp told The Gainesville Sun. “I don’t know where this is coming from.”

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Ex-AU QB Newton Wow Woman More Than Her Boyfriend’s Proposal


That’s all that can be said about a recent radio bit from WNKS-FM in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The station set it up for Carolina Panther and ex-Auburn Tiger quarterback Cam Newton to help Brian — stationed in New Mexico as a member of the Air Force — propose to his Charlotte-resident girlfriend, Kim.

First, Newton surprised Brian.  Then he tried to help Brian pop the question…


Kim:  This is cool!

Cam:  You think this is cool?  I think this is even cooler.  I think Brian has a question that he wants to ask you.

Kim:  What?

Brian:  Kim.

Kim:  Yes?

Brian:  From the moment I met you, I knew I loved you.  And I knew I wanted to love you for the rest of my life.  And I know when you say something over and over again it loses meaning.  (But) everytime I say I love you I mean it and I want you to be my wife.  I want you to marry me.

Kim:  Oh, my… I can’t believe Cam Newton is on the phone.

Radio Host:  Kim, answer the guy!

Kim:  Yeah, of course.


“I can’t believe Cam Newton is on the phone” were probably not the first words Brian wanted to hear.  Of course, maybe that’s what he gets for proposing as part of a bit on “Charlotte’s #1 Hit Music Station.”

Good luck to the happy couple.  Who needs Paris?  They’ll always have Cam Newton.

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NCAA Prez Talks Rules, We Talk Loopholes

rule-book-holyThe NCAA rule book is too thick.

To quote Dan Aykroyd as Bob Dole: “You know it, I know it, and the American people know it.”  NCAA president Mark Emmert knows it, too.

At yesterday’s NCAA convention in Grapevine, Texas, Emmert admitted the following:


“It turns out we know how to write rules.  One of the problems is sometimes we write lots and lots and lost of rules…

Just as the shiny side of the competition has the side that can also bring dysfunction to it, so too can the regulatory side.  And we have to recognize that as we try to balance that coin on its edge.”


Emmert’s comments come as the NCAA is re-working its rule book and trying to make things simpler.  Coaches and fans have been yelping for such action for years.

But there’s a problem that comes with ripping pages from the NCAA manual — less rules will mean more loopholes.  Less black-and-white will mean more gray.

Let’s look back at the Cam Newton situation as an example.  As Auburn was roaring toward the BCS title in 2010, all eyes focused on Newton as it became clear that his father had asked some Mississippi State boosters for cash in exchange for his son’s signature.  But Newton was not punished.  First, he supposedly had no idea of his father’s actions.  Second, Newton signed with Auburn, not MSU.  Third, no smoking gun was ever found tying Auburn to alleged payments.  So Newton played.  Auburn won.  And everything — especially on The Plains — was hunky-dory.

But should a parent be able to ask for cash in exchange for his son’s services on a football field or basketball court?  Obviously the answer is no.  So the NCAA closed the so-called Newton loophole at last year’s convention.  The rule-makers decided to expand the definition of an agent to include third-party influences including parents.  Meaning that if a player’s parent — acting as an agent — has his or her hand out asking for loot, the player will be ruled ineligible just as quickly as if an agent had tried to broker a deal for him.  No cash has to even change hands.  Ask for money, your kid is ineligible.

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A.P. Hands A&M’s Johnny Manziel Award For Offense (This Site Some Free Pub)

Many thanks to the Associated Press today.  Oh, sure they announced that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was a unanimous choice as their SEC Offensive Player of the Year.  And, yes, the redshirt freshman most certainly deserved the honor after setting a new single season total offense record in a league once rule by dual-threat dynamos Cam Newton and Tim Tebow.

But more importantly, the AP sent out a headline that’s pretty much been used by all: “‘Johnny Football’ Lauded As Mr. SEC.”

Shucks, folks, all of his here at appreciate the free plug.

In all seriousness, is it any wonder Manziel won the award?  His final stat line for the season:


*  Led the SEC in rushing with 1,181 yards on 184 carries for a 6.42-yard average and 19 touchdowns

*  Third in the SEC passing with 3,419 yards on 400 attempts with a completion percentage of 68.3, 24 touchdowns, and just eight interceptions

*  Accounted for 39 rushing plays of 10 or more yards, 18 of 20 or more yards, and 10 of 30 or more yards

*  Led the SEC in total offense with 4,600 yards thru 12 games for an average per-game performance of 383.3 yards
The AP’s Offensive Player of the Year Award for the SEC isn’t the only honor Manziel is expected to win this week.  He’s also believed to be the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.


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