Good morning! Auburn was the talk of the college football world yesterday as the defending SEC champs kicked off SEC Media Days in Hoover.
Commissioner Mike Slive actually got things started, with a happy anniversary wish to his wife, and then a very quotable "we are not deaf to the din of discontent" shot fired at the bow of the NCAA. Slive said the NCAA must give more autonomy to its five largest member conferences to help accommodate the changes necessitated by the game and the culture around rapidly changing and growing.
Gus Malzahn opened Auburn's portion of Monday afternoon, recapping the Tigers' championship 2013 season and talking about the team goals for the upcoming year. Here's video and a transcript of his comments.
Gus also briefly touched on the situation surrounding Nick Marshall, saying he wasn't ready to announce the discipline, only ensuring that there will be consequences. While most of the local beat writers and others from around the conference actually didn't talk about it all that much, it seemed most of the talking heads ESPN sent to Hoover were quite disappointed they had no chance to pounce on the young man, instead only having his teammates to ask about the situation. When his teammates did talk about him, his was nothing but glowing praise and saying they were there for encouragement.
Auburn journalism professor John Carvalho, who whenever he writes is worth a read, has a column at the War Eagle Reader discussing the future of this story and the discussion around Malzahn's decision to not bring Marshall along. Near the end he shares this nugget of wisdom: "In the absence of new information, the story survives only if the media continue to serve it up under the pretense of new angles." O-A News sports editor Mike Szvetitz also shared his thoughts in a column, talking about the precedents he thinks will be set by the punishment Malzahn hands out.
As far as talking about the game itself, Reese Dismukes discussed the state of the offensive line and what 2014 has in store for the offense he helps command. And Gabe Wright can't wait to again compete for a national title and to finish off what he and his teammates have started.
There was some hard news out of Auburn's share of Monday as well, with Malzahn confirming the ACL surgery undergone by defensive end Carl Lawson. Gus said the freshman All-American took a couple of weeks after being seen by Dr. James Andrews before having the surgery, but that he thinks the "physical specimen" could still come back and play late this season.
AL.com's Brandon Marcello has a story about Malzahn using special teams as a test lab for a lot of the young talent pouring onto the Plains this fall, both as role players and in the kicking game itself, at punter and kicker. Wesley Sinor, the newest addition to the Auburn team at that site, talked to the Auburn player reps about their season opener with Arkansas.
Some more new on the injury front included medical redshirts being granted to receiver Jaylon Denson and linebacker Justin Garrett, giving them each an extra year of eligibility. Also, Keymiya Harrell has reinjured his ACL, and Malzahn said Tyler Nero, who collapsed on the sideline during a March practice, has probably played out his gaming days, but that he could see a future coaching position for him.
Adding to the preseason award watchlist fervor, Dismukes was placed on yet another list, this time for the Lombardi Award, while Kris Frost was named to the Butkus list.
Outside of football news, former Tiger (and though it breaks my heart, current Oakland A) Josh Donaldson took part in the MLB Home Run Derby last night at Minnesota's Target Field and hit four homers before being eliminated by his Bayside teammate and eventual champ Yoenis Cespedes, who defended his crown from last year's All-Star Break. Donaldson will start for the American League tonight in the 85th Midsummer Classic, while San Francisco Giant Tim Hudson will more than likely make an appearance on the hill for the National League.
Lastly, current Auburn baseballer Jordan Ebert, just hours after arriving on the Cape, hit a grand slam for his new Cotuit squad in his first summer league game.
Okay, we're one quarter of the way through the worst sports week of the year, even with SEC Media Days madness. The All-Star Game is tomorrow night on FOX, and then real games come back on Friday. Enjoy with your Tuesday!