If we could somehow get winter to move as fast as college football season, life would be a heck of a lot more fun. It's amazing how fast football season runs its course. We spend all year talking about Auburn football - from recruiting in February to spring practice in April to two-a-days in August. The build up seems to last forever and now, in what seems like a flash, we're already halfway through the 2009 season.
There been plenty of surprises with Auburn and the rest of the SEC. Its fun to go back and read the preseason publications that came out over the summer. They are so off the mark, yet we continue to spend a small fortune on them year after year. Below is a collection of thoughts on the season so far...
There's perhaps no bigger story in the SEC than the success of Gene Chizik and his young Auburn team. If Auburn does what the Las Vegas odds makers say they will Saturday, the Tigers will head to Baton Rouge next week with a 6-1 record. Despite the loss last Saturday at Arkansas, so many preseason worries have been put to rest. We now know Chizik can coach and that offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn really is a special talent.
We've also learned that running the spread offense doesn't mean chunking the running game. Ben Tate doesn't look like the same back we've grown accustomed to over the past three years. He not only leads the conference statistically, there's little doubt he's among the best running backs in the country. Take that Tony Franklin.
The biggest storyline belongs to quarterback Chris Todd. His story is what makes all of us love college football. Has another person regardless of profession or sport come any farther than Todd has over the past 12 months? This was a guy that no one wanted to stand next to for fear of catching what he had - bad Karma and a bum shoulder.
Fast forward to now and he's a Maxwell Award nominee for the top player in college football. How can you not pull for this guy? I'd pay money for my son to shadow him and just watch how he conducts himself. He handles adversity better than anyone I've ever had the pleasure of watching.
Raise your hand if you are sick of hearing about Tim Tebow? I know he's a special talent and I'm sorry he endured the most talked about concussion in the history of college football. I understand he's achieved near Saint status for participating in circumcisions in third world countries. But if I have to watch him showboat on the sidelines by screaming at his team during a timeout again, I'm going to be the one throwing up.
His act is tiring quickly. And what's the deal with the networks showing Tebow and Florida coach Urban Meyer embracing before each game? Is it just me or is it starting to get a little creepy? Maybe David Letterman will let them use his office in New York during the Heisman Trophy presentation.
We'd all be hard pressed to say who's having the worse season, Georgia's Mark Richt or Mississippi's Houston Nutt. I wrote the following in a column last August:
"Georgia's Mark Richt will be on the hot seat at year's end. They'll lose for the 17th time in 20 tries against Florida; and Georgia Tech will claim two straight against its in-state big brother."
I was crucified by my friends over at Dawg Sports.com. They told me in polite terms that I was an idiot. I'm not claiming to be Jimmy the Greek, but I'm just saying...
Richt's overall record is stellar. It's hard to argue that point. But Georgia fans, don't forget that Tommy Tuberville had a similar record and you see where it got him. Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin are going to be huge problems for Richt to overcome in the near future.
Ole Miss and its failures are less of a surprise. Never has a bowl victory given a team a bigger bounce heading into the next season than the Rebels whipping of Texas Tech in January's Cotton Bowl. Quarterback Jevin Snead has gone from being one of the top Heisman contenders to 11th in passing in the SEC. Here's what I had to say about Ole Miss back in August...
"Ole Miss loses three games. All fans have heard since January's Cotton Bowl is how loaded the Rebels will be in 2009. Sure they're playing with Steve Spurrier's favorite quarterback, Jevin Snead, but they are also without left tackle Michael Oher. And we all know how difficult it is to replace a tackle. Right Bama?"
I was probably a little too optimistic back then. I believe Nutt would take three losses on the season and be a happy man at this point. Outside of Kentucky and Furman, this has to be Auburn's next best chance at a win down the stretch.
As we begin the second half this weekend there are plenty of good stories still left to play out. Can Florida and Alabama both reach the SEC Championship game undefeated? Will LSU finally live up to expectations and make a run for the SEC West title?
Can Steve Spurrier continue to win at South Carolina or will he have his traditional second half meltdown? Most importantly, can Auburn reach deep down and find a way to continue its magical run, despite a defense that's getting weaker by the minute because of injuries?
We'll have all the answers in a few short weeks. After all, time flies when it's football season. See you Saturday at Jordan-Hare.