Posted on: January 10, 2011 8:59 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 9:02 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
We expected fireworks and points, so naturally the game began slowed by injury and with a pair of punts. The field looks like it might be a bit of an issue, claiming Auburn's Chris Davis on the opening kick. Both defenses look extremely well-prepared for the opposing offense, and both opening drives were stuffed. Just when Oregon was starting to get some momentum thanks to a couple of first downs and a 21 yard reception from LaMichael James, Darron Thomas overthrew Kenjon Barner and Auburn's Demond Washington came through with the interception.
When Auburn reclaimed the ball with the best field position of the game, Cam Newton was picked off by Oregon's Cliff Harris on the drive's second play. It looks like it just might be that type of game.
Posted on: January 8, 2011 2:21 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Cam Newton will be taking the field Monday night in Glendale. There's no doubt about that. But it doesn't mean he's out of the NCAA woods just yet.
That's the biggest takeway from this report by Fox Sports' Thayer Evans , who spoke to a pair of Atlanta-area contractors who had agreed to do repairs on Cecil Newton's church in Newnan, Ga., and were interviewed by NCAA investigators the week before Christmas. The good news for Cam is that both said they weren't aware of any kind of scheme to funnel money to the Newtons:
[Emory] Wilcox and [Eddie] Norris, listed on separate city permits for work to be done on Cecil Newton’s struggling Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, each told the NCAA investigators that they were never asked to deliver nor did they deliver money to Newton.
The interviews also did nothing to support the theory that the Newtons had used an illicitly-paid windfall to repair the church, as Wilcox revealed that Cecil had yet to pay him for even minor electrical work. The church has avoided being condemned, a Newnan city spokeswoman confirmed, but is not yet up to code enough to host church services.
Despite all that, Evans' story illustrates that while the attention into the investigation into Newton's eligibility has waned, the investigation itself is carrying on all the same. Until the NCAA announces that it's officially concluded its look into the Newtons' finances -- and that that look produced nothing damning -- the possibility will remain that the next overturned log will uncover the improper benefits that would make Cam ineligible for the 2010 season.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2011 7:22 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Basics: Texas A&M (9-3) vs. LSU (10-2), Jan 7., 8:00 ET
Why You Should Watch: If you're going to the game, you can enjoy the spectacle and experience that is Jerry Jones' masterpiece, Cowboys Stadium. Of course, if you're going, you don't need to be told why to watch, so you can probably click to another article now. EVERYBODY ELSE: Watch this game. Not only is it the only college football game of the day, but its bookends are Thursday's Miami University - Middle Tennessee State pillow fight and tomorrow's clash of the titans between Pittsburgh and Kentucky. Two 6-6 teams facing two teams replacing their coaches. Yeah, you'll want to watch A&M-LSU.
But past all that, LSU has been one of the most must-see teams of the season, with head coach Les Miles turning his endgames into odd exhibitions of anarchy and chaos that end up working out 60% of the time. Imagine this: one-possession game in either favor, ball at either 40-yard line, and 3:45 left on the clock. Are you turning this game off? Of course you're not.
Keys to Victory for LSU: For all the disorder that has characterized the 2010 season, one immutable constant has been LSU's stingy defense. When the Tigers haven't been facing the T-1000 Cam Newton Cyborg, they've been shutting down opponents at prodigious rates; on the entire season, LSU is tenth in the nation in scoring defense and eighth in overall defense, while ranking in the top 20 in passing efficiency defense, rushing defense, sacks, and tackles for loss. This team does not have systemic deficiencies on defense.
That's good, because the Tigers will be tested on defense by a physically talented but inconsistent Aggie offense. Texas A&M has achieved more offensive balance with Ryan Tannehill at QB than when Jerrod Johnson was healthy, but while that's usually just a euphemism for "he's a worse quarterback," Tannehill is actually competent under center, and it's no surprise that A&M has gone on a six-game winning streak (including wins against four bowl teams) with him back there. If the LSU secondary can force mistakes and turnovers, the Tigers will be in good shape, but that's easier said than done; Tannehill hasn't thrown a pick in over 100 straight attempts. That streak may come to an end tonight, but it's not like 13-30 with 4 INTs is a plausible final line.
Keys to Victory for Texas A&M: For all the struggling the Aggies did against Nebraska 's defense in that 9-6 atrocity, they did manage 19 first downs in the affair, and odds are that if the Aggies replicate that effort in moving the chains, they'll score enough to stay in the game for four quarters. And, again, that's when the fun begins when Les Miles is on the other sideline.
The real challenge, then, is going to be getting the ground game going with Cyrus Gray against elite front-level defenders like Drake Nevis and Kelvin Sheppard -- two guys who have made running between the tackles a nightmare for opponents all season long. The Aggies aren't exactly a spread-and-shred type of team, so they'll have to get their yards by grinding and breaking tackles, or anything else in their repertoire to keep LSU from sitting back and taking away the passing game. Want to see how this game goes for Texas A&M? Just watch where the point of attack moves during the first quarter; if Nevis and company are in the backfield with any regularity, it's going to be a long day for the Aggies.
The Cotton Bowl is like: the senior prom. Prom isn't the apex of one's high school arc, and neither is the Cotton Bowl for the bowl season. But they're awfully close, calendar-wise, and this is one of the last chances to see something magical happen. Everyone's getting all dressed up, they're headed to one of the fanciest places in town, and they're going to have one crazy night while they can. Further, if you've ever seen the way a typical high school senior talks to girls, it's remarkably similar to how Les Miles coaches at the end of the game: it's desperate, astonishing, and far more successful than it has any right to be.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 3:49 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Today was the first media day at the BCS National Championship game, with Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti the star of the show after saying he was "sleeping like a baby. I wake up every two hours and cry." Cam Newton also clarified that his father would be in attendance at the game.
But maybe the most interesting development to come out of Phoenix since the teams arrived has been the consensus that Auburn has been the more relaxed, more happy-go-lucky team while Oregon (sometimes typecast as a laid-back West Coast program out of admittedly laid-back Eugene) has been much more business-like in their approach.
For maybe the best example of the difference between the two teams, look at the wide, wide variance in their respective curfew policies. When it comes to Auburn (emphasis added) ...
After Internet reports surfaced that star quarterback Cam Newton and some of his teammates were out at a club till almost 2 a.m., Newton was asked on Tuesday if any sort of curfew has been put in place for Auburn.Meanwhile, on the Oregon side , the Duck captains elected to have the players confined to the hotel by a 10 p.m. with a lights-out call by midnight. Linebacker Spencer Paysinger said that the Ducks were distracted at last year's Rose Bowl by "a bunch of things going on" and that this year's bowl experience is "a business trip."
Auburn fans will no doubt say that the light-in-the-reins approach is the right one for a team that's seemed to thoroughly enjoy their 2010 ride, and that the Tigers will be ready to play a loose, nerve-free game next Monday. Oregon fans will no doubt say Auburn isn't taking things seriously enough and that the Ducks will see their sharper focus and better preparation pay off.
We'll find out who's right next Monday.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 4:34 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 4:36 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
In news that may possibly be considered somewhere between "good" and "freaking fantastic," Oregon running back LaMichael James announced that he plans to return to the Ducks in 2011. Head coach Chip Kelly said that nine underclassmen evaluated their NFL draft options, and all nine would be returning to the Ducks next season. James' made his return official through the school's website.
“I came to the University of Oregon to get a quality education as well as to play football, and feel I have yet to complete that goal,” James said in the official release on GoDucks.com.
After leading the nation in rushing, and finishing third in the Heisman balloting, there is certainly plenty of upside for the sophomore to make the jump. But for those close to the program, there is little surprise that the first team Pac-10 academic all-league choice is taking his education seriously. Returning to school also basically guarantees him Oregon's all-time rushing record. A mark that he is currently just 68 yards shy of reaching.
It also helps the team's focus heading into the media frenzy associated with the National Championship Game. Having this matter sorted out before the questions are answered will help keep Oregon's focus on the field. Considering the many off-field issues Auburn will continue to have to avoid answering discuss, this could be considered a slight intangibles advantage for the Ducks. Might not make a huge difference, but if this game is as close as we hope and expect, every little thing will count.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 2:50 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
As they did in the wake of their ruling that Cam Newton was eligible -- and the media firestorm that accompanied it -- the NCAA has again issued a statement outlining a recent decision , this time the Ohio State suspensions, and this time they are angry . Or at least, they're as angry as a near-faceless all-encompassing bureacracy can be:
The NCAA throwing around words like "absurd" is the equivalent of your standard columnist or blogger typing out an expletive-laced ALL-CAPS rant. They are, to understate things for effect, not entirely happy.
And though he is well in the minority, this blogger for one doesn't blame them a bit. The criticism of the NCAA's Ohio State ruling seems to simultaneously accuse the organization of being too strict ("Why can Cecil Newton get away with asking for $180,000 while the Buckeyes get punished for a few underpriced tattoos and for selling their own possessions?" ) and, somehow, too lenient ("Why do the Buckeyes get to play in the bowl game when they're suspended?" ). As the saying goes, a good compromise leaves everyone unhappy, and from here it looks like handing down a five-game suspension but allowing the accused Buckeyes to play the biggest game of their current season looks like it fits that bill. (As for the Sugar Bowl's lobbying, please note that it was in the direction of Ohio State and Jim Tressel to keep them from sitting the players themselves, not the NCAA.)
The NCAA is also correct that comparisons between the Newton case and Ohio State's -- not to mention Reggie Bush's, Renardo Sidney's , and the like -- don't entirely fly when the NCAA has no evidence (as of yet) the Newtons received any benefits and plenty of evidence the Buckeyes did. As has been pointed out elsewhere , those accusing the NCAA of inconsistency miss that their response to accepted benefits has been very consistent indeed.
This isn't to say the NCAA hasn't earned its reputation for capriciousness over the years (and then some). There's solid arguments to be made that the Buckeyes should be sitting the Sugar Bowl, that their bylaws should have more clearly anticipated a situation like the Newtons', that the bylaws ought to be looser where relatively minor benefits are concerned (particulary considering how much money the athletes in question are earning for the programs they represent).
But the NCAA is right -- this time -- that just causally tossing out a comparison between the Newtons and the Buckeyes alongside words like "inconsistent" and "biased" isn't a fair method of criticism.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 3:39 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Late Show With David Letterman had a special guest tonight, as Heisman-winning Auburn quarterback Cam Newton -- perhaps you've heard of him -- stopped by to read the night's Top Ten List. His category: Top Ten Things Cam Newton Can Say Now That He's Won The Heisman Trophy. Watch below:
It's tough to pick any favorites of the ten -- that task is sufficiently subjective that picking any of the ten would just invite disagreement and discord -- but it was nice to see the Late Show writers walk the jokes up to the point of a bombshell admission without ever making the punchline or situation uncomfortable for Newton. Well, unless he's violently opposed to Justin Bieber , anyway, and on that front one can hardly blame him.
Tags: Auburn, Cam Newton, Cam Newton David Letterman, Cam Newton David Letterman Video, Cam Newton Heisman, Cam Newton Late Show, Cam Newton Late Show Video, Cam Newton Top Ten List, Cam Newton Top Ten Video, Cam Newton Video, David Letterman Cam Newton, Justin Bieber, Late Show Cam Newton, SEC, Top Ten List Cam Newton, Top Ten List Video
Posted on: December 13, 2010 2:10 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 5:01 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
UPDATE: Auburn has confirmed that Malzahn will be staying at the school, and he's gotten himself a raise and a contract extension to boot.
It looks like there is more to life than money after all.
After reports surfaced over the weekend that Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn had accepted an offer that would pay him $3 million a year to be the new head coach at Vanderbilt -- reports that later became the offer has been made but Malzahn hadn't accepted anything -- it looks like Malzahn will be staying at Auburn for at least another season.
However, after contacting the Auburn athletic department, the school could neither confirm or deny that this report is accurate.
Obviously, if the report is correct, this is a bit of a blow to Vanderbilt, who seemed to think that Malzahn was coming. Or, at the least, was really hoping he would come. Instead the Commodores will have to turn their attention elsewhere, perhaps to Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin.
On the flip side, this is good news for Auburn and Gene Chizik. Not having Cam Newton in 2011 would be a big enough obstacle to overcome, and losing the mastermind behind the Auburn offensive attack would have only made things worse. Of course, just because Malzahn has turned down Vanderbilt, that doesn't mean it's a certainty he'll be back at Auburn next season. After all, there are other coaching vacancies out there, and it's obvious that becoming a head coach is Malzahn's ultimate goal.
The question at this point becomes does the Pitt job hold any appeal to him, or will he prefer to stay at Auburn for another season and see what opens up next year.