All posts by SportsHax Archives

Campus Pressbox 62: What Happened to the ACC?

Campus Pressbox basketball writer Damon Del Rosario (DamoKnowsSports) joins Damien (@damienbowman) to talk about the first week of the NCAA tournament, LaVar Ball, the best coach in Division I right now and who has the best shot at landing Indiana job.


  • ACC Early Exits
  • Sweet 16 Picks
  • LaVar Ball
  • Best Coaches in Division I
  • Doug Gottleib
  • Indiana’s Coaching Job


send us your feedback!

E-mail: [email protected]

Campus Pressbox 61: Busted Brackets and Tournament Officiating

Bird (@Autull) joins Damien (@damienbowman) to talk about their busted brackets, tournament officiating from last week and give their picks for this weekend’s Sweet 16 match-ups.


  • Opening round bracket busters
  • Tournament Officiating
  • Re-seeding the Sweet 16
  • Sweet 16 predictions


send us your feedback!

E-mail: [email protected]

Campus Pressbox 60: I’m Feeling a Little Catholic about My Bracket

We’re back from our extended hiatus to talk about the NCAA Tournament. Bird (@Autull) joins Damien (@damienbowman) to talk about some of the differences in their brackets and to break down how much AAU is hurting basketball. Please note: neither Damien nor Bird watch basketball…so this episode is a complete free-for-all.


  • Brackets
  • AAU
  • LaVar and Lonzo Ball
  • Breakaway Rims


send us your feedback!

E-mail: [email protected]

Jarrett Stidham, Welcome to Auburn

I was in Tampa, Florida when I got the news that Cam Newton had chosen Auburn as the school where he would take his formidable football skills. My wife and I were in town for the 2010 Outback Bowl which would pit my Auburn Tigers against the Northwestern Wildcats.

Typically, I don’t follow recruiting with the passion and fervor that many college football fans do. I do keep a close eye on it, but I don’t have time to worry about a high school player’s stats, 40 time, strength numbers, film clips, etc. Cam Newton was an exception.

I was bug-eyed at all of the info I was getting on Newton. He was 6’6”, 250, with a cannon for an arm and he could run like a deer. Then I watched his video highlights. I watched them again. It was very difficult to contain myself.

And, with the offensive line, skill players, and a defense that would feature Nick Fairley, amongst many others, coming back at Auburn, my expectations soared.

11-1! That was one of the first things that popped into my mind. I thought going undefeated was a possibility, but accomplishing a task of that order is tough, indeed, in the SEC West.

Later, in the spring of 2010, we were attending the Wanee Music Festival at the Spirit of the South Music Park in Live Oak, FL. I was strolling across the field where the main stage was set up. A voice, out of nowhere, shouted, “War Eagle!” I must have had on something with an interlocking AU on it or another form of Auburn identification.

I quickly looked around, and seated in lawn chairs near me, were two male Auburn students. We exchanged further greetings and began to discuss the high hopes for the Tigers in the upcoming 2010 season.

One of the young men worked in the banquet facilities at the Auburn Hotel and Convention Center and he told me about a conversation he had with Gus Malzahn, who was then the offensive coordinator on the Plains, when Gus was a guest at a holiday season fête at the hotel just before Cam signed with Auburn.

They were chatting about the upcoming 2010 football campaign and the possibilities of this Auburn team. During the course of the conversation the young man asked Gus, “What if we get Cam Newton?” Gus replied without hesitation, “We go to Atlanta.”

You know the rest of the story.

When JUCO quarterbacks wind up at Auburn, good things happen. Championships happen.

Gus also inherited a JUCO quarterback, in his first year at Auburn under Gene Chizik, from the Tommy Tuberville era. That was Chris Todd.

Todd was a Kentucky native who was recruited from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. All he did in 2009 was set the Auburn single season-record with 28 touchdown passes and wound up with 2,612 yards, a 60.4 completion percentage, and a QB rating of 145.7. He threw only six interceptions.

Malzahn was named the head coach at Auburn in December of 2012 and soon added another JUCO quarterback to his roster. That was Nick Marshall, a Georgia native, who was then playing for Garden City Community College which is also in Kansas.

Marshall led Auburn to within 13 seconds of a BCS National Championship in his first year, 2013. In two seasons he passed for 4,508 yards and rushed for 1,866. He was voted team MVP in 2013. Here is the complete skinny on his time with the Tigers.

John Franklin III was next in the succession of JUCO signal callers. A Florida native, Franklin played at East Mississippi Community College and enrolled at Auburn in January of this year. He is on the current roster. Find his data here.

And that brings us to… Jarrett Stidham, the 5 star Baylor transfer. He could very well be a game-changer. I expect him to be, just like Newton and Marshall before him.

If you are an Auburn fan, or even follow college football at all, you are familiar with Stidham’s route to becoming an Auburn Tiger. He was enrolled at McLennan Community College, in Texas, but did not play football this year.

Stidham is the type of dual-threat quarterback that thrives so well in Malzahn’s system. The sky should be the limit with him behind center. His info.

Now, if you are a fan of Auburn, don’t run out and make reservations for Atlanta just yet…ohhhhh,  on second thought, go right ahead and do just that.

Auburn and JUCO transfer quarterbacks are a matches made in football heaven.

Picking Up the Pieces of the 2016 SEC Football Season

The championship games are now in the book as well as a few straggling regular season games. Army-Navy remains. That being said, let’s do some housekeeping and tidy up a few odds and ends concerning the SEC.

First, we’ll saunter back to SEC Media Days and review how the scribes’ picks turned out.

As you see in this article, Alabama was picked to win the SEC West and Tennessee was the choice to represent the SEC East in Atlanta. Alabama, obviously, held up their end of the deal but the Vols did not. The Florida Gators managed to take the division by default. The Crimson Tide steamrolled the West in dominant fashion. They won their division by three games over who? The Auburn Tigers.

Auburn was picked not second, or third, of fourth, or fifth. They were picked sixth in the West behind LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Arkansas.

Bravo for the Tigers! And they were rewarded with a trip to the Big Easy and the Sugar Bowl. They will take on Big 12 champion, Oklahoma. It could be one of the better games of the entire bowl season. More on that, and other bowls, in later columns.

What about the cellar dwellers? South Carolina was the choice to bring up the rear in the East, but the Gamecocks, modestly exceeded expectations and came in fourth. Missouri had the distinction of finishing last in the “Easy.”One of the Mississippi teams was tagged by the media to sink to the bottom in the grueling West. But it was the Bulldogs of Mississippi State that was chosen for that “honor.” Ole Miss, much to the surprise of most every football fan in the country, plummeted to the number seven spot while predicted to come in third.

Here is a complete look at how the standings shook down in 2016.

Here is how the media sized up the All-SEC selections.

And here are the coaches’ choices (the only one we have when this article was composed) for All-SEC.

Glaring discrepancies on the first team offense? Chad Kelly at quarterback, Leonard Fournette at running back, Nick Chubb at running back, Calvin Ridley at wide receiver, and O.J. Howard at tight end.

Jalen Hurts, Kamryn Pettway, Derrius Guice, ArDarius Stewart, and Evan Engram took those slots.

Defense? As you peruse the lists you will note that things went pretty much as expected. Good job media!

The coaches individual award winners on offense, defense, and coach went to Jalen Hurts, Jonathan Allen, and Nick Saban. As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!”But, in all fairness, who’d a thunk Jalen Hurts would walk off with the offensive player of the year? No one could have seen that coming.

In this interim, between the regular season and bowl season, and beyond, there are some questions we look forward to seeing answered.

What will the NCAA decide in the way of punishment for Ole Miss?

Will Nick Saban retire? (Wishful thinking)

What underclassmen might surprise us by succumbing to the lure of dollars and the NFL?

How hot is Butch Jones’ fanny?

Kevin Sumlin’s?

Will Lane Kiffin take a head coaching position? (More wishful thinking)

How about Rhett Lashlee?

Will Jim McElwain ever find a quarterback?

Will Gus Malzahn?

Will Kirby Smart be a bust?

Will Barry Odom?

Who might be the next Jalen Hurts or Kamryn Pettway?

Is anyone capable of bridging the gap between Alabama and everybody else?

And… is the SEC still the top of the heap in the world of college football.

The bowl games are upon us and, with their conclusion, the season of 2016 will be but a memory.

What does 2017 hold for us as college football fans?

In the words of a wise man… we shall see.


E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.


What a Great SEC Football Season! Now Bring on the Bowls!


The SEC regular season has now concluded. Thank you, Jesus! I have rarely been so happy as to see one come to a conclusion.

Oh! Say what? The SEC Championship Game? Puh-leeeeze! Does anyone outside of Gainesville or Tuscaloosa even care? Well, maybe those who are wagering on this Clash of the Titans. An outsider’s tip? Crimson Destruction Machine minus the 24 or 25.

Wasn’t that easy and painless? Now, let’s move on to some…



SEC basketball is underway with its prelude to conference games which begin later this month. It’s December! And the Kentucky Wildcats are the pick to win the SEC. Oops! Sorry! More foregone conclusions.

Back to football. Hey, hey! I hear that collective groan.

Let’s take it back to the opening week of the season with This should be fun! First note the missed predictions. There are seven of them.

Vandy over South Carolina. Mississippi State over South Alabama ;). Oh, it gets better. Missouri over West Virginia. LSU over Wisconsin. (I’m beginning to hear cackles). Kentucky over Southern Miss. Auburn over Clemson. And… Ole Miss over Florida State! (That cackle is becoming a solid chuckle, huh?).

Did I hear some smart aleck ask how I did in week one? That’s not the point.

Okay, here’s an excerpt from the article that caused me to raise my eyebrows.

“Because of this, the Commodores could be this season’s team to determine the SEC East champion. Most years saw Kentucky or South Carolina playing this role well, but Vandy may very well ruin one or two seasons in 2016. This team could resemble the Woodyball/Rod Dowhower teams of the mid-to-late ‘90s that would resemble an NFL powerhouse on defense and a middle-of-the-road peewee team on offense. The offense should have more talent than those sad teams of the late ‘90s, but the conference is much deeper today.”


Didn’t everyone enjoy this goat-screw? Florida-LSU. Whew!  But in all seriousness, everyone was safe and the game got played, much to the chagrin of the LSU faithful. Go Gators! December third is a comin’!


Miss State 35  Texas A&M 28

Arkansas 31  Florida 10

Georgia 13  Auburn 7 (Where is my gun to the head emoji?)

Ole Miss 29  Texas A&M 28 (Wait! It gets better quick!)

Vanderbilt 38  Ole Miss 17 (What’d I tell you?)

Missouri 28  Arkansas 24

Miss State 55   Ole Miss 20 (Boo-yah!)

And the Grande Finale!

Vanderbilt 45  Tennessee 34!

As Pat Dye once famously stated,“Hindsight is 50/50.”

Florida hopes to upset Alabama in SEC championship game

In my best Jim Carey… Just jokin’ with ya! And one from Doc Holiday in Tombstone… “You’re a daisy if you do.”

Actually that is a headline from this November 29th Fox Sports article.

More emojis please! The one that laughs until it cries!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

I know. I know. Someone is raising their hand and begging the question, “What about the bowl season? That’s coming right up!”

Okay. You got me. Before we go, I’ll just give you a few names of this bowl season’s exciting matchups.

San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Ah! Poinsettias!)

Foster Farms Bowl

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Quick Lane Bowl

Dollar General Bowl (Hey! When you can’t get Nieman Marcus…)

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (Ditto above and insert Ritz-Carlton)

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Another order of laugh until you cry emojis, please!

Well, that’ll wrap it up for today boys and girls. And slow down! I know you’re rushing to these bowl sites, or StubHub, to snarf up tickets to one or more of these titillating contests.

God save us.


E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.


Rivalry Week: The Iron Bowl

Here we are again, fast approaching the last Saturday in November, and that means one thing to college football fans… Rivalry Week.

Well, there’s that matter of Thanksgiving, and football, on Thursday (the Egg Bowl in the SEC), but this weekend is all about our favorite teams renewing matchups with our arch-rivals.

In the Southeastern Conference we have the intrastate contests pitting Ole Miss-Miss State (in the aforementioned Egg Bowl), Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, South Carolina-Clemson, Tennessee-Vanderbilt, and the Big Kahuna… Auburn and Alabama.

The Iron Bowl, or as I prefer to call it, the Auburn-Alabama game.

Alabama has been installed as an 18 or so point favorite, depending on which source you look to. Personally, I think that is too many points to give. The game is in Tuscaloosa but that doesn’t necessarily matter. Auburn is 7-3 in T-Town.

Here is an excellent little primer on the game, courtesy of WSFA-TV in Montgomery, AL.

One thing that jumped out at me from that piece of information: six Auburn-Alabama games have been decided by one point and Auburn won five of those battles. I attended games two through six.

I have attended 39 Iron Bowls, but I’m not going into that until next year when I plan to show up for my 40th in the series at Jordan-hare Stadium in Auburn.

Back to the one point games. This year’s game could be one of those and I think that favors Auburn.

If it’s a low-scoring game, say in the teens or low 20’s, Auburn will be right in the thick of it until the final gun. The longer the Tigers can hang around, the more they will continue to believe they have a shot at it. A one score deficit, either way, in the fourth quarter will point to another humdinger of a game, or as Keith Jackson would say, a dandy.

For Auburn to find itself in that position will require great play in the trenches from the Tigers, and they are more than capable of that.

Also, Sean White and Kamryn Pettway will have to be in good health and play lights out football.

Will Carroll, of SEC Country, examines the injury situation.

Another potential motivating factor for Auburn is the Sugar Bowl is at stake. If the Tigers can pull off the upset it would probably put them in New Orleans for a New Year’s Six Bowl game. Read more here.

There are many other factors to consider in order for Auburn to have a realistic chance Saturday. There are key Alabama players that need to be stopped, slowed, or neutralized.

Saturdays Down South delves into this topic.

Here is something that intrigues me, about this classic rivalry, since Nick Saban became the head coach at Alabama.

Auburn won in 2007, which was Saban’s Iron Bowl debut, 17-10 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Three years later, in 2010, Auburn pulled off the remarkable “Camback”, winning 28-27 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. And three years later, in 2013, who will ever forget the “Kick Six”, which will go down in the annals of college football as one of the greatest games ever played.

And now, yet again, it’s another three years later. 2007, 2010, 2013… Will 2016 be another epic upset in the series?

It could happen. It’s not probable, but it certainly is within the realm of possibility.

So, what will transpire over in west Alabama on Saturday afternoon?

I will gladly provide you with an Auburn optimist’s view on the game.

Both teams come out slugging, like a heavyweight fight, with fur and hide flying everywhere. Auburn scores, on its first possession, on a 54-yard Daniel Carlson field goal, 3-0.

Alabama finally gets on the board, in the second quarter, with a Jalen Hurts scramble to put the home team up 7-3.

Auburn counters with another three-pointer by Carlson, 7-6 Bama, at the half.

Rudy Ford takes the second half kickoff back to the Tide 22-yard line.

Kamryn Pettway bursts into the end zone from there. 13-7, Auburn.

Bama answers with a 65-yard bomb form Hurts to Calvin Ridley and that puts them up, 14-13.

The battle rages on into the fourth quarter. Bama gets a field goal from Adam Griffith and leads, 17-13, late.

Auburn takes the ball at its own 25 following the kickoff. It marches 45 yards to Alabama’s 30. Time is running out. It’s fourth and inches.

Everybody and their grandma is looking for Pettway up the middle. The quarterback (White, Franklin, Johnson?) pulls the ball, on a zone read, and makes it to the pylon to give Auburn the lead and, ultimately, the win, 20-17.

Hang on to your hats, folks. Here we go!


E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Auburn is Decimated, Alabama Marches On, Apathy Sets In

I expected my column, this week, to look completely different from what it has now become. I expected Auburn to beat Georgia, ravage Alabama A&M, and set up another epic Iron Bowl (which should be referred to as the Auburn-Alabama game or Alabama-Auburn game). Not gonna happen, as you well know.

I expected to expound upon the great college football season that this had become and set the table for an exciting College Football Playoff. Nope. Who cares?

It has become Alabama and the 127 dwarfs or, as my friend Lyn Scarbrough puts it here, Alabama and everybody else.

Same song. Fifth verse. Or 17th verse, depending on how many phalanges one chooses to employ.

Also, last weekend, Clemson lost, as did Michigan and Washington. And that even further tainted the anticipation leading up to the playoff.

As a matter-of-fact, when I was scanning SEC articles a few minutes ago, I found myself more interested in a column concerning Kentucky’s pasting of Michigan State in basketball than those about football.

And now, I am more eager about Auburn’s basketball game, with Eastern Kentucky, than its football game with Alabama A&M.

By the way, Auburn will not field 25% of its roster Saturday. That number includes multitudinous injuries, redshirts, and walk-ons.

All that really doesn’t matter. Auburn will annihilate A&M and will then offer itself as the next sacrifice at the altar of the Big Crimson Machine.

Yes, I will get my hopes up and pull hard for my Tigers to spring the gargantuan upset, but how many people truly think that will happen?

We’ll hear the same old cliched arguments dragged out yet again. You can throw out the record books! Anything can happen in this game! You never know! Blah blah blah!

If I were a neutral fan, and a gambling one at that, I would take Alabama minus the points and put the ranch on it.

Lord, please make me eat my words!

No, this is not the wide-eyed positive, passionate, enthusiastic me that you have come to expect. This is the realistic, pragmatic me that had the breath knocked completely out of him by Auburn’s performance in Athens, GA last weekend.

That was unacceptable. It was the Tigers game to be taken, was offered up on a silver platter, and Auburn refused to feast upon that golden opportunity.

I do not want to take anything away from Georgia. They played with good intensity and purpose and took what was given them. Congratulations to the Bulldogs.

But, the fact remains that Auburn completely squandered a chance to play Alabama for the SEC West and a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

That is that. It is what it is. And we press on.

Toward what?

Toward an SEC football weekend filled with games like the Auburn-Alabama A&M game. And Alabama-Chattanooga, Georgia and Louisiana-Lafayette, South Carolina-Western Carolina, Kentucky-Austin Peay, and Texas A&M vs. Texas-San Antonio.

And! If the Florida-LSU game hadn’t been so poorly mangled we would be treated to these two barn burners. Florida-Presbyterian (Were the Episcopalians not available?) and LSU-South Alabama.  But now, Presbyterian and South Alabama will play each other!

Can you contain yourselves?

But there’s more. The Florida-LSU game will be played in Baton Rouge, instead of Gainesville, and it will count as a home game for the Gators!!!

Where is Les Miles when you need him? Baylor, maybe?

In another cruel twist of fate, we were hoping to take our granddaughter to Auburn this weekend but the game was moved it to 7:30 PM ET and we didn’t want to get home late, so we sold our tickets. Only to have them get lost in the mail, and I will now have to refund a fine fellow his money.


Ok! Love y’all! Tip your waitresses! Drive safely! See you next week!


E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

The Coaches at Auburn and Georgia Know Each Other All Too Well

I came into sports, as a passion, back in 1961-62. I attended my first Auburn football game in that fall of ’61. My Tigers played another group of Tigers. That opponent hailed from Clemson, South Carolina.

Auburn won that homecoming game in, then, Cliff Hare Stadium, 24-14. Cliff Hare was a member of the first ever Auburn football team in 1892. That 1892 team played the first college football game, ever, in the Deep South. The opponent? The University of Georgia

More on Georgia later.

Back to 1961.

I don’t recall ever being happier than I was at that Clemson game in 1961, and in games to follow over the years. And it’s not that I didn’t care if Auburn won or lost. I did. I wanted them to win so very badly. I still do.

But, win or lose, I was just so darn happy to be at Auburn and sitting in Cliff Hare Stadium.

I would make sure that my daddy got me there, those two or three times a year, as soon as the gates opened. And there I would sit, spellbound, as my Tigers would walk the turf in street clothes. Soon they would take the field for warmups.

And in short order, it was time to kick it off.

Pure bliss!

There was a football game I made up and played in my front yard, either with friends, or by myself. I called this game Ala-burn.

Alaburn was made up of players from both Auburn and Alabama. Jimmy Sidle, Joe Namath, Tucker Frederickson, Lee Roy Jordan, and others, would take on the likes of Georgia Tech (then of the Southeastern Conference), Tennessee, LSU, and the like.

Those players, from both the Plains of East Alabama and the Capstone of Tuscaloosa, would take on all comers and, in my mind, win.

We win when we stick together.

The reason I say all of this, in part, is due to what has transpired in our country over recent years and culminating this past Tuesday.

And this does not just pertain to politics, it permeates our culture right down through our sporting events.

Divisiveness, anger, greed, and hatred.

Teasing, taunting, mocking, and cursing.

Incivility has reached new lows, and this saddens me deeply.

Again, we win when we stick together. And we must have the attitude and faith of a little child to make this happen. At least that is my humble opinion.

That brings me back to Georgia. The Tigers and Bulldogs will renew the Deep South’s oldest rivalry for the 120th time, Saturday, in Athens.

The Dawgs lead the series 56-55-8.

From Pat Dye, former Auburn coach and All-American guard at Georgia: “It’s a unique thing. It’s like playing against your brother. I don’t think anybody who plays in that game can ever forget it. It just doesn’t matter much where it’s played or what somebody’s record is. It’s so intense and tough, but at the same time, it’s family.”

Vince Dooley played quarterback at Auburn under Shug Jordan. Jordan was an assistant football coach and head basketball coach at Georgia when he answered the call to return to Auburn as its head football coach in 1951.

Rodney Garner, former Auburn player and now a defensive line coach for the Tigers, was a coach at Georgia for 15 years.

Tracy Rocker, an all-world defensive lineman at Auburn in the late eighties, is now the defensive line coach in Athens.

Joel Eaves, of Beard-Eaves Coliseum, played both football and basketball at Auburn and is the winningest coach in Auburn basketball history. He also spent some time as its athletic director. Eaves also served Georgia as its athletic director from 1963-1979. He was the man who hired Vince Dooley to become head coach of the Bulldogs.

It goes on and on but I won’t bore you with all of the details. At least not today.

The Auburn-Georgia game has, sadly, become a bit more acrimonious than it was years ago. It was very much a more “sisterly” rivalry in those days past.

She now has now become more of a reflection of the times. Certainly not an Aurgia or Geoburn.

We win when we stick together.

But, there is that matter of 3 ½ or so hours on a crisp autumn afternoon, or evening, much to Shug Jordan’s chagrin, that we put on the gloves and slug it out.

Saturday, at 3:30 PM, “between the hedges,” the Tigers and Bulldogs do battle.

I think Auburn has a better football team than Georgia. I think the Tigers are better coached. I also think they are stronger in the trenches.

And I think the Tigers are on a mission to put themselves in a position to do something very special.

The nod goes to the orange and blue over the red and black.

Auburn 30, Georgia 17.

For more on the 2016 edition of The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, click away below.

E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.