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Conference Preview: Pac 12 South

Rich Rod to Bama and a Spider Named Johnny

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we discussed one of my favorite divisions in college football, the PAC 12 North. There’s plenty of Auburn-related storylines to check out there. The South, on the other hand, is not quite as much fun, so forgive me if I have to stretch a little bit.

Arizona Wildcats

Arizona right now is in a bad spot. Take a look at what Bill C had to say about them earlier this summer. I think its pretty safe to say that a bad season in 2017 will officially end the Rich Rod era for the Wildcats, but if you’ll remember, the man has been a hot commodity for head coaching jobs over a decade. Let’s take a look back, since his decisions (or non-decisions) really shaped football in Alabama. After the 2006 season, when Rodriguez had led West Virginia to consecutive top 10 finishes, he was offered the Alabama job. A native son and alum of WVU, Rich Rod declined, paving the way for Nick Saban to take over the Tide. Can you imagine how different the past decade would’ve looked if Alabama had become the fast paced, high octane offense at the end of the Tuberville era? And where would Saban have ended up had he not gone to Bama? These are questions only Futurama’s “What If?” Machine can answer.

Rich Rod instead took the Michigan job a year later, with little success. He was fired three seasons later, but still found himself as a lead name for several P5 jobs after the 2012 season. If I remember correctly, he was a leading name for the Auburn job for a while. Fortunately, we got our man in Gus, and the 2013 season is history.

Arizona State Sun Devils

The coaching staff in Tempe has a handful of connections with our staff here in Auburn. For starters, head coach Todd Graham employed both Gus and Herb Hand at Tulsa, a relationship which brought Hand to Auburn. Current Auburn OC Chip Lindsey held the same position for the Sun Devils last season. Last but certainly not least, Kodi Burns was a RB coach for Graham for a hot minute after the 2015 season before he came home to Auburn. With all of those connections, it’s safe to say Gus and Todd Graham have a pretty good relationship.

Colorado Buffaloes

Yeah, I don’t really have anything except that Groza-favorite and Auburn legend Daniel Carlson is from Colorado, as is his brother Anders. What more do you need?

NCAA Football: Alabama A&M at Auburn
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA Bruins

After some pretty serious Googling, I have decided there are no ties between UCLA and Auburn. As a matter of fact, the only thing I can find between the two schools at all is the Women’s College World Series matchups from 2016 and 2017, where Auburn blew out UCLA 10-3 and snuck by 11-10, respectively. War Damn Softball, ladies.

USC Trojans

Like many of you, I’ll probably never be able to fully root for USC after 2004 and all that nonsense. However, hiring an Auburn guy as head coach will help that to an extent. Clay Helton, if you didn’t know, was an Auburn backup quarterback from 1990-1992, when he transferred to Houston to play for his father. Helton seems like a cool guy from what I’ve heard of him, so I guess I’ll pull for him even though he’s at USC. But I won’t like it.

Utah Utes

Alright, this might be the stretchiest stretch I’ve had so far, so bear with me. Utah’s newly hired offensive coordinator, Troy Taylor, was a head coach at Folsom High School in California from 2012-2015. The town of Folsom is in part well-known because of the state prison. This, the Folsom Prison where Johnny Cash had his concerts and recorded Folsom Prison Blues. Hang on, we’re almost there. Back in February of last year, biology doctoral student Chris Hamilton discovered a new species of tarantula near the Folsom prison, which was distinctive for its all-black appearance (just like the Man-in-Black himself, Johnny Cash). It just so happens that Chris Hamilton was pursuing his doctorate at, you used it, Auburn! This is the kind of story that we would only know about thanks to the wonderful, incredible War Eagle Reader and Jeremy Henderson. If you’ve never gotten lost on that website clicking through Auburn articles, I HIGHLY recommend it. Thanks TWER!