I'm sure by now many of you have seen Jimbo Fisher calling out Auburn in his press conference while attempting to explain how offenses are getting away with cheating on having linemen down field. That's one specific thing he pointed out for why offenses are more successful these days.
I'm honestly not sure why he brought up Auburn specifically (more on that at the end), but he did. It's not like Jimbo has just spent tons of pointless time studying Auburn film past 2013's BCS title game since it's been unlikely his Seminoles would face Auburn after that, so he would hardly be in a position to know exactly what Auburn's offense does and does't do at this point. He cited two specific situations, though, so, let's take a look at them.
The Marshall-to-Coates Pass
This is the primary one Jimbo cited. According to AL.com, Jimbo said Auburn had a lineman "7 yards down the field." I don't know about you, but no where in that video do I see a linemen 7 yards down the field. I see Jay Prosch blowing someone up 5-6 yards down the field, but as a fullback who lines up in the backfield, Prosch is well within his rights to go down field. He may be committing pass interference, but he's not an illegal man downfield. The line is very close to being 3-4 yards downfield, but it's bang-bang on when Marshall throws the pass.
From this picture, you can see the Kozan is just barely beyond 3 yards down field, but you can also see that the ball has already left Marshall's hand. That play was called correctly. Sorry, Jimbo.
Of course, the funniest part about this particular play is that he said it cost Alabama a national championship. So, he's implying that Alabama would have beaten his Florida State team in the BCS Championship Game that season.
2015 Ole Miss Game
This is the strangest one, to me. He said that when Auburn played Ole Miss last year "they had a guy 6 yards down field." It does indeed seem to be the case from the cutups WarRoom Eagle did that Auburn had a man downfield illegally at one point. However, note his comment in the tweet:
I found it! Four yards, not six, but still illegal.— WarRoomEagle (@WarRoomEagle) October 3, 2016
Plot twist: The refs penalized Auburn!https://t.co/ekqgrBe1Zy
Soooo... yeah, it was illegal. And it was called.
UPDATE! It appears that surprise surprise, AL.com misinterpreted the quote. Apparently, he was talking about when Alabama played Ole Miss and credits RPOs with having a part in Alabama's loss there, too. Here are the quotes...
I apologize to Jimbo for getting riled up because AL.com interpreted things differently. That's why you should always seek out the video or direct quotes from multiple places to make sure it's correct.
He's still wrong about the 2013 Iron Bowl play, though.
Auburn Doesn't Even Run Many RPOs!
He may have a legitimate complaint about teams that are very heavy on the run-pass-option (RPO) plays, but here's the thing... Auburn isn't one of those.
While many teams use it extensively, Auburn doesn't have many of them. WarRoom Eagle even broke down just how little Auburn used RPOs in 2013 & 2014 with Nick Marshall as the QB. He discovered that Auburn had all of two of them in the playbook, and one of those was a screen pass that wouldn't result in a lineman illegally down field, anyway. That is missing 2015, of course, but it's not like Auburn was successful on much of anything in 2015 on offense.
I don't know what Jimbo was getting at with all of this. Perhaps it was a way to deflect from the fact that his team has struggled in a few games this season, and they've played teams (like Ole Miss) who have more RPOs in their play book. They beat Ole Miss, but Hugh Freeze's playbook has quite a few more RPOs (and they use them much more often) than Auburn does, so it seems like they would have been a much better example.
I'm not saying Jimbo is wrong to complain about teams having illegal men downfield when running RPOs. I just think it's dumb to use Auburn as your poster child for it. It's reaching to try to bring in one of the more famous plays in the last few years and call it out as illegal when, in fact, it wasn't.