As Acid Reign aptly pointed out yesterday, it's Homecoming weekend around the SEC. That's code word for terrible games. You know it's bad when ESPN's best choice for a conference game is Florida vs. Vanderbilt. Take the Alabama vs. LSU contest out of the equation and the SEC pretty much goes underground for the weekend.
While Saturday will likely be a snoozer for Auburn fans, it's a welcome break for the team. Of course, we thought that last season when UT Martin played Auburn deep into the third quarter. That's unlikely to happen this year. "In terms of getting other guys on the field, we have to go in and try to win the game," says Auburn coach Gene Chizik. "And after that, we will see about other guys playing, but we have to go in and win this game." That's an understatement.
What do we know about Furman? Basically nothing. Personally, I had an old boss that graduated from Furman and he was an awesome guy. I still see him around town. In fact, when my son was born, he gave him a life size stuffed Tiger that remains on display in his bedroom. On the flip side, I also had a roommate from Furman when I was a congressional intern in Washington D.C. and he was one weird dude. So who knows what we'll see walking around campus Saturday morning. It's not a school for dummies.
Here are a few quick facts about the homecoming game:
- The Tigers and Paladins have met three times, the last being in 1956. And yes, Auburn has won all three. A win Saturday would break Auburn's consecutive homecoming game winning streak with 17 victories. That's hardly impressive considering they play teams like, well, Furman.
- Furman's last victory over an SEC school came against Vanderbilt in 1963. If they played today, Furman would be a four point favorite on a neutral field.
- Can you recall a player making bigger strides from one year to the next than running back Ben Tate. If it's possible to get faster after three years of punishing hits from SEC defenders, then Tate has done it. I swear it seems he's a step faster this season. He currently leads the SEC in rushing with 1,067 yards.
- Those of you who were fans of MTV's Two-A-Days reality show about the players at Hoover High School will remember Furman defender Max Learner. Personally, I've never heard of him. And I feel better for it.
Raise your hand if you are loving the dilemma that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive is in over comments made by his favorite coach, Florida's Urban Meyer. You'll remember last week that Slive got fed up with league coaches criticizing the inept officiating in the SEC - most notably Tennessee's Lane Kiffin. Slive threw down the gauntlet and decided to play big dog.
Here's what he said last Friday:
"On rare occasions over the last seven years there were several private reprimands (of SEC coaches) and that took care of the matter. On occasion there were public reprimands and that took care of it. It became clear to me after last week that I was no longer interested in reprimands, and the conference athletic directors and university presidents unanimously agreed. "For the foreseeable future there will be no reprimands. We will go right to suspensions and fines."
Fast forward a few days later and it's Slive's chosen one, Meyer, testing the resolve of the SEC commissioner. During his weekly conference call Meyer openly criticized officials for not throwing a flag on Georgia defenders who were going after quarterback Tim Tebow last Saturday.
As we go to press with this story there's not been a peep out of Slive. While he almost certainly will be forced into levying some token fine on Meyer, his waiting several days has shown him to be weak and indecisive. Give him credit for negotiating a mega television contract. Just don't ask him to show any backbone. Of course, Auburn fans already know this after his lack of willingness to go to bat for the Tigers during the undefeated 2004 season. And don't forget he was the head of the NCAA Basketball Tournament Selection Committee last season when Auburn was snubbed.
From Auburn Sports Information... The Auburn football homecoming game on Nov. 7 against Furman at Jordan-Hare Stadium will kick off at 12:30 p.m. CT and be offered on pay-per-view.Pay-per-view will be available in the state of Alabama to cable subscribers and small dish owners who subscribe to DirecTV or Dish Network and in the state of South Carolina to DirecTV or Dish Network subscribers.Individual tickets to the Furman game are currently available and can be purchased at www.autigertickets.com or call 1-800-AUB-1957.
War Eagle Everybody! I hope you have a great weekend. Don't forget, next week the real season begins!