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The Choice is Clear Tonight

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The best sign of the weekend.
The best sign of the weekend.

I have many close Alabama friends. I know more than a dozen who are in New Orleans right now. Why do so many of them feel obligated to ask who I'm pulling for tonight? In their heart of hearts, do they honestly believe I could even remotely pull for Alabama?

Let's review: Their fanbase has poisoned our trees; they've spent a year trying to ruin Cam Newton and takeaway Auburn's national title; and they continue to recruit in ways that would make the Corleone's proud.

Yeah, I want Alabama to bring home the state's third consecutive national title in the same way I want another colonoscopy. You should feel the same way. If not, then get some help.

While many in our state are gearing up for tonight's BCS National Championship Game, the same can't be said for the rest of the country. Maybe it's SEC fatigue or the fact that Alabama and LSU have already met once this season; but from a national standpoint, build up for tonight's contest has been lacking to say the least.

The same can be said for the entire bowl season. Not in my lifetime have I seen stadiums more empty for the big bowl games. Fans are subjected to two weeks of horrible contests that drip nightly like Chinese water torture and then the New Year's games are all played at the same time. When will this lunacy stop?

Word came down late last night that Auburn tight-end Phillip Lutzenkirchen is returning for his senior season. Most thought that he would return, but you never know when a player will have a Darvin Adams moment and throw everything away. Auburn will be much improved just having him on the field.

The wait continues on Auburn's search for new offensive and defensive coordinators. The latest name to surface is Houston co-offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. He was the play caller for Houston's offense this season and is a former All-American quarterback at Texas Tech.

Other names that have surfaced on the offensive side of the ball include: Kerwin Bell (Jacksonville U. head coach); Scott Loeffler (Temple offensive coordinator); and Blake Anderson (North Carolina offensive coordinator).

Bell is an interesting candidate. The former Florida quarterback was a fellow walk-on with Chizik at Gainesville and they remain close friends today. Bell finished 6-4 this season, but claimed the Pioneer League title in 2008. As head coach, he calls all of the offensive plays for the Dolphins.

On the defensive side, the hot rumored name is Ron Zook, the former Florida and Illinois head coach. As with all of these names, they are just rumors. Other mentioned candidates include: Ron Cooper (LSU secondary coach); and Randy Shannon (former Miami head coach).

While Auburn running back Michael Dyer's fate has been decided, the debate continues to rage. Kudos to Gene Chizik for making the decision to part ways with his star. While there are a million rumors floating around about his crime, what we do know is it had nothing to do with grades.

All-SEC running backs don't leave programs because of bad grades. Chizik needed to send a clear message to his young and talent-laden team that there's a right way and wrong way to do things. For all his immense talent and accomplishments, his downside far outweighed what he did on Saturday afternoons.

Auburn will be better off in the long run. Can the same be said for Michael Dyer?

It's beginning to look like Auburn is the Bermuda Triangle of basketball coaching jobs. While it's too early to write off Tony Barbee, the opening act has been deeply disappointing. Auburn was pounded in its SEC opener Saturday at Vanderbilt 65-35. It was the Tigers lowest point total since 1951 when there was no shot clock.

"For whatever reason, the guys who were supposed to be catalysts and difference-makers on this team, they're making a difference in the wrong way," Barbee said. "They're making a difference in us losing because they're not producing anything."

With a $92 million arena to pay for, you can bet Barbee's leash is much shorter than what previous Auburn coaches have faced. While I'm not suggesting his job's in jeopardy yet, he better turn things around in a hurry. Judging from the last two games, that doesn't seem likely now.