I'm not sure that I've been simultaneously thrilled and angry, but I was granted that new emotion on Saturday. There's a bizarre divide continually growing in Auburn's fan base, presumably, if I am being polite, and it's nearing a head. And if the wrong side of it wins this battle, I'll be writing that retirement column much sooner than I thought.
1. Let's start with actual football. The reason that Gus Malzahn doesn't have the quarterback that he wants is because he desperately wants to run the zone read. Not a wildcat or anything like that: a zone read. And he tried to do that with Sean White and it's just not happening because Sean isn't a threat to run. It's oversimplified, but that's the long and short of the problem right now.
2. #Team3Points. Take the points, man. You have the best field goal kicker in college football. It's a CLOSE game. Take the damn points. Not taking the points nearly cost you the win. Not taking the points nearly saved Les Miles's job. Take the points. Don't chase the points until you have to - take them.
3. This Art Briles thing. I got irate on Saturday night when Kevin Scarbinsky published a report suggesting that "his sources are telling him that people are working behind the scenes to bring in Art Briles."
And I'm still irate about it. I could have 8 beers in me or zero beers - I'm irate about it. Because Kevin Scarbinsky gave legitimacy to a flippant comment by Rick Neuheisel on satellite radio by putting it into a credible outlet.
Because it's not going to happen. It's just not. If Gus Malzahn is fired tomorrow. If he's fired in December after Auburn loses the 9 games professional hot takers desperately want them to lose, if he stays and fires Lashlee and needs a coordinator. It's not going to happen. This is a school that four years ago decided it was too morally superior to hire a guy that took a 25-year-old blonde lady on a motorcycle ride. Consensually. That was four years ago.
So why now is Auburn going to hire a rape enabler?
I've tried to twist and turn and bend this every way possible. Here's what I've got:
Let's take it at face value - Kevin surely has great sources and those sources surely told him the information that he printed. Let's say the source is Bobby Lowder's pilot. Hell, let's say it's Pat Dye. I accept that someone with extensive knowledge of the situation told Kevin Scarbinsky that this was a thing. Fine.
Well, first, why is a strongly sourced rumor a story?
"Hey Kev, Yella Fella here: look, folks are talkin.' They are a-TALKIN.'"
"What are they saying big guy? Coach Dye gonna build that fence?"
"No siree. Fellers round these parts saying that they might just hire ol' Art Briles."
"Hang on let me grab my notepad here. Art Briles you say? They might?"
[Yella Fella turns to the camera and winks]
"What we talkin' here, lumberman? 60/40?"
"Look, alls I know here is about this pressure treated pine."
So he printed it. A strongly sourced hypothetical. That hardly seems like a story. But let's go ahead and play that out to the next level. We'll call this part: "Choose Your Own Adventure: Art Briles Edition."
Let's say nothing ever comes of it. Gus Malzahn stays where he is. AND let's also assume that the "well sourced hypothetical" was totally true. What happened? At BEST, the story was planted on Kevin and he got played. If that's the case, I suppose that's fine. I wouldn't want to be the guy that got played, and I'd surely be a little bit more careful about printing "well sourced hypotheticals" henceforth. But fine. No harm, no foul, the plan worked like a charm.
Let's say the "well sourced hypothetical" is totally accurate and comes to fruition.
You're not gonna have to worry about TAKES at that point. Because I'm done. I'll support Bruce Pearl's efforts to rebuild basketball, but I won't support an Art Briles led football team.
I'm not the type to carry on about rape being bad. I think that line of tweeting is tired. We all know rape is bad. But in this 2,000 or so word post I will tell you: I'm done if Art Briles has anything to do with the football program.
Now the next time Pat Dye or Bobby Lowder or Yella Fella or McWhorter or whomever sends me a Christmas card or calls on my birthday will be the first. But I'm done if Art Briles is a part of this program. With no reservations about it.
Insult "fambly" or "God thing" or whatever all you want. That isn't the Auburn I was raised to love.
"But Blake. But Blake. They hired Bruce Pearl!!!!!!!!"
Bruce Pearl cooked some hot dogs for some kids. He didn't promote rape.
4. Les Miles. The abrupt conclusion of Les Miles's time at LSU is Exhibit A in my ongoing 2016 narrative. I saw it suggested that Les got "Malzahn'd," that this was somehow the new "getting Croom'd."
It's not. Les Miles lost his job for the same reason that Gus Malzahn is on a "hot seat:" because he isn't winning football games as frequently as Nick Saban.
And it's a damn shame because Les Miles was the last guy that felt like the SEC of the 90s and 00s. He had a ton of personality. He made it fun. Now I see no horizon of that in the league again. Spurrier. Miles. The last two men standing. Coach O is funny, but not for the right reasons. He's not a "personality," he's just a weird, big lug.
That's what we are talking about today, and a lot. But Les Miles was authentically a great dude. Les Miles did a lot of things for a lot of people when he didn't have to - in an age of Bobby Petrino and Mark Stoops and, God help me, Art Briles. This is the world we live in now - a world where winning a decent amount isn't good enough. I get that. That's fine. But allow me a moment of nostalgia for the game's final few breaths of innocence.
5. What's left. Auburn should beat ULM, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Alabama A&M and Georgia. That's seven wins. As I said - I'm fairly confident - in week one, this comes down to the Arkansas and Ole Miss games. that's the difference between Birmingham and...idk...Atlanta? And the haters among you have to concede that you'll be a lot less angry at 9-3.