Tag:Auburn
Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:07 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:08 pm
 

Auburn's Gogue approves plan for Toomer's Corner

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Auburn president Dr. Jay Gogue has approved a committee recommendation that will keep Tiger fans rolling the famed Toomer's Corner despite the impending loss of the site's poisoned oak trees--but that doesn't mean some big changes aren't coming to the Corner all the same. 

With the current oaks unlikely to survive beyond this fall, the school's Committee to Determine the Future of Rolling Toomer’s Corner presented a two-part plan to Gogue: one, that the trees would be permanently replaced by one or more similar-sized specimens (likely a different species of oak), and two, that a second committee would be assigned to determine a temporary solution for rolling the corner during the three-to-five year period before the new oaks were ready. Gogue signed off on the plan this week.

“Dr. Gogue did approve the recommendation of the committee and we’re moving forward this week,” said Auburn Communications Director Mike Clardy. “We’re not going to wait to spring to start planning."

The good news for Tiger fans is that the replacement process and temporary solutions won't be put into practice until 2013 at the earliest. The oaks are expected to be in good enough shape to withstand rollings during the 2012 football season, with the same safeguards established during the 2011 campaign -- such as removing the toilet paper by hand -- still in place.

“Live oak wood is hard,” said AU horticulture professor and Toomer's Task Force member Dr. Gary Keever this week. “If you want to roll them, fine.” 

But while there remains a chance the oaks could pull through and render the recommendations and planning moot -- Clardy says the "next step" is to reassess their health -- Keever warned fans not to get their hopes up.

“I would not bet they’d be alive next fall,” he said in Tuesday's committee meeting.

And once the current oaks have died, that's where the changes start. While decisions on exactly what species of tree will serve as replacements are still in the distant future, what's certain is that they will not also be live oaks; the coastal species prefers wetter soil than found in Auburn and would be highly difficult to grow to the current oaks' size at all, much less in the given timeframe. Keever will recommend that overcup oaks be used instead.

As for that temporary solution, it's still too early for many specifics. ("There’s not a tremendous rush," Clardy said, since the oaks would last through 2012.) But the final recommendation is likely to be something man-made, potentially a system of wires.

That's not likely to sit too well with Auburn fans accustomed to the oaks' organic presence (for lack of a better term) at the Corner. Alleged poisoner Harvey Updyke is already public enemy Number 1 among the Tiger faithful; three-to-five years of rolling wires followed by the introduction of a different species of oak isn't going to do a thing to change that.

Reporting by the War Eagle Reader.

For daily real-time updates on Auburn football, follow our Tiger CBSSports.com RapidReports by Jay Tate here.  

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.

Get CBSSports.com College Football updates on Facebook   
Posted on: January 23, 2012 5:15 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 5:17 pm
 

SEC West coordinator hires: thumbs up or down?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all 28 positions now filled, here's one team-by-team assessment of where the SEC stands at the two most important assistant coaching positions. First, the West:

ALABAMA

2011: Jim McElwain offensive coordinator, Kirby Smart defensive.
Departures: McElwain accepted the job as Colorado State head coach.
2012: McElwain has been replaced by Washington OC Doug Nussmaier.

Thumbs up/down? Firmly up. Some of that is the hire of Nussmaier, who -- once freed from trying to turn Jake Locker into the efficient college QB he was never going to be -- coaxed Keith Price into becoming one of 2011's breakout stars and the Huskies to a 24th-place finish in yards-per-play. (It doesn't hurt that Nussmaier cut his coordinating teeth in the same Fresno State program McElwain did.) But even bigger was that the Tide retained the services of Smart for another year, despite his having overseen a 2011 'Bama defense that merely ranked among the best the game has ever seen.

ARKANSAS

2011: Garrick McGee offensive, Willy Robinson defensive.
Departures: McGee took the UAB head coaching positionRobinson resigned after four up-and-down years in Fayetteville.
2012: Paul Petrino returns to his brother's staff as OC after two seasons at Illinois; Paul Haynes arrives as DC after seven years at Ohio State.

Thumbs up/down? Up. It's hard to imagine a snugger fit for the offense than the same person who ran it for two successful seasons in 2008 and 2009. Haynes is unproven as a defensive play-caller -- Jim Heacock handled those duties for the Buckeyes -- but there's no arguing with the overall defensive success OSU experienced during Haynes' stay in Columbus. Anything approaching a Buckeye-esque D in 2012 will be a big improvement on the Robinson era.

AUBURN

2011: Gus Malzahn offensive, Ted Roof defensive.
Departures: Malzahn is now the head coach at Arkansas State; Roof avoided a potential dismissal by first taking the UCF DC's job, then rejoining old Duke colleague Bill O'Brien at Penn State.
2012: Temple OC and longtime Michigan/Florida QB coach Scot Loeffler will run the offenseAtlanta Falcons DC Brian VanGorder the defense.

Thumbs up/down? Up. VanGorder is a smash hire with a successful track record both in the NFL and the SECthe sort of coach who should return the Tigers' defense to respectability in a hurry. Loeffler is a young, highly respected up-and-comer who's been due for an OC gig like Auburn's, but his pro-style leanings and early talk about "helping our defense and special teams" signals a wrenching shift in philosophy from Malzahn's no-huddle spread. Is he sharp enough to overcome what could be some serious transitional hiccups?

LSU

2011: Steve Kragthorpe and Greg Studrawa offensive, John Chavis defensive.
Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Up. Despite the horrorshow put on by the Tigers in the BCS national title game, after a 13-0 regular season (and 17th-place finish in scoring offense) Les Miles is entirely justified in looking to tweak the LSU play-calling rather than overhaul it. And Chavis, of course, continues to quietly roll along as one of the college game's most productive assistants.

OLE MISS

2011: David Lee offensive, Tyrone Nix defensive.
Departures: Both Lee and Nix, swept out along with Houston Nutt.
2012: Hugh Freeze brought Arkansas State DC Dave Wommack with him while hiring former Rebel OC Dan Werner out of college-coaching retirement.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively down, which is not to say there aren't positives. Freeze will have a heavy hand in running the Rebel offense, so Werner's time away from the game won't hurt much, and the veteran is highly familiar with both the Mississippi recruiting trails and the Rebel program. Wommack, meanwhile, enjoyed an excellent 2011 season overseeing a resurgent Red Wolves defense. But both coaches' resumes are more solid than spectacular; for a head coach (and a program) with plenty of question marks of his (and its) own to answer, a legitimate needle-moving hire would have been helpful.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

2011: Les Koenning offensive, Chris Wilson defensive.
Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively up. Wilson's first season in charge of the Bulldog D (after a promotion from coaching the defensive line) was promising, with a rapidly-improving unit holding four of their final six FBS opponents under 4 yards per-play. But the Bulldog offense was a disappointment, finishing ninth in both total yards and yards per-play in conference games; though Dan Mullen's close oversight of the offense means Koenning can't be blamed for those struggles, you could argue a switch might have given the Bulldog O a spark this offseason ... even if we won't.

TEXAS A&M

2011: Mike Sherman as his own OC, Tim DeRuyter defensive.
Departures: The fired Sherman, obviously. DeRuyter landed on his feet as the Fresno State head coach.
2012: Kevin Sumlin brought Houston co-OC Kliff Kingsbury with him as play-caller and hired Mark Snyder away from USF as DC.

Thumbs-up/down? Up. Though the Sumlin/Kingsbury tag team may miss Jason Phillips (the Cougars' other co-OC, now at SMU), it's hard to argue with Sumlin over any plan for his offense, given what he (with Kingsbury's help) accomplished at Houston. Snyder, meanwhile, bolstered an often-sloppy USF defense into the FBS top 15 in yards-per-play each of his two years in Tampa and brings head coaching experience from his time at Marshall. Barring hiring someone like VanGorder for the defense, it's hard to see how Sumlin could have done much better for the kind of program he wants to build -- in either slot -- than he did.

Tomorrow: the East. For all of Eye on CFB's SEC coverage, click here.

Thanks to TeamSpeedKills' helpful "Coaching Carousel Scorecard." 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 22, 2012 8:20 pm
 

Auburn hires Temple's Loeffler as new OC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Gene Chizik has made his choice to replace Gus Malzahn--and it's a name that won't be unfamiliar to SEC fans.

Auburn has announced that it has hired away Temple offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Loeffler spent five seasons as the Michigan quarterback coach and also has stints with the Detroit Lions and Central Michigan, but is best known for having served as Florida's quarterbacks coach for two seasons--including their 2009 undefeated regular season with Tim Tebow

“Auburn is one of the special jobs and special places in college athletics with a tremendous amount of history and tradition," Loeffler said in a statement. "It’s an honor to be joining Coach Chizik’s staff and I’m very appreciative of this opportunity. I’m excited to get started and look forward to beginning recruiting, meeting the players and staff, and interacting with the Auburn family.”

"Scot is a rising star who has worked with some very good quarterbacks, and has achieved a tremendous amount of success," Chizik said. "He is a tireless worker, is an outstanding recruiter and knows the rigors of competing in this conference."

Chad Henne was one of multiple quarterbacks to have flourished under Loeffler's tutelage in Ann Arbor. 

Despite those qualifications, Loeffler, 37, remains an unproven quantity when it comes to running an SEC-level offense; his single year at Temple (having followed ex-Gator coordinator and current Owl head coach Steve Addazio) is his only one as a play-caller. The Owls finished 63rd in total offense but a much-better 35th in yards-per-play, with the ground game particularly impressive; behind Bernard Pierce's 1,481 yards, the Owls finished 7th in the FBS in rushing.

Between Loeffler's track record of quarterback coaching, his effective 2011 run-scheming, and an age and energy level that should play well on the recruiting trail, it's easy to see why Chizik would be interested. (That Loeffler may be able to install some of Urban Meyer's spread concepts along with his bread-and-butter pro-style running attack could help ease the transition from Malzahn's spread   philosophy.) But a coach with as little play-calling experience is a huge gamble all the same--and it's one that after an iffy 7-5 season, Chizik likely can't afford to lose. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 22, 2012 8:20 pm
 

Auburn hires Temple's Loeffler as new OC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Gene Chizik has made his choice to replace Gus Malzahn--and it's a name that won't be unfamiliar to SEC fans.

Auburn has announced that it has hired away Temple offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Loeffler spent five seasons as the Michigan quarterback coach and also has stints with the Detroit Lions and Central Michigan, but is best known for having served as Florida's quarterbacks coach for two seasons--including their 2009 undefeated regular season with Tim Tebow

“Auburn is one of the special jobs and special places in college athletics with a tremendous amount of history and tradition," Loeffler said in a statement. "It’s an honor to be joining Coach Chizik’s staff and I’m very appreciative of this opportunity. I’m excited to get started and look forward to beginning recruiting, meeting the players and staff, and interacting with the Auburn family.”

"Scot is a rising star who has worked with some very good quarterbacks, and has achieved a tremendous amount of success," Chizik said. "He is a tireless worker, is an outstanding recruiter and knows the rigors of competing in this conference."

Chad Henne was one of multiple quarterbacks to have flourished under Loeffler's tutelage in Ann Arbor. 

Despite those qualifications, Loeffler, 37, remains an unproven quantity when it comes to running an SEC-level offense; his single year at Temple (having followed ex-Gator coordinator and current Owl head coach Steve Addazio) is his only one as a play-caller. The Owls finished 63rd in total offense but a much-better 35th in yards-per-play, with the ground game particularly impressive; behind Bernard Pierce's 1,481 yards, the Owls finished 7th in the FBS in rushing.

Between Loeffler's track record of quarterback coaching, his effective 2011 run-scheming, and an age and energy level that should play well on the recruiting trail, it's easy to see why Chizik would be interested. (That Loeffler may be able to install some of Urban Meyer's spread concepts along with his bread-and-butter pro-style running attack could help ease the transition from Malzahn's spread   philosophy.) But a coach with as little play-calling experience is a huge gamble all the same--and it's one that after an iffy 7-5 season, Chizik likely can't afford to lose. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 20, 2012 7:13 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 7:28 pm
 

Report: Harvey Updyke rejects 13-year plea deal

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Accused tree-poisoner Harvey Updyke has rejected a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for 13 years and -- maybe more importantly where Updyke is concerned -- prohibited him from ever attending another Alabama sporting event. 

ESPN's Mark Schlabach reported Friday that Updyke declined the plea deal "earlier this month." Updyke is scheduled to go to trial for poisoning Auburn's beloved Toomer's Corner oak trees in the Lee County (Ala.) Circuit Court March 5, but current Updyke attorney Everett Wess has requested a delay in the trial, a change of venue, and a recusal from the presiding judge.

Wess is asking that the trial be moved out of Auburn and that judge Jacob Walker III step down over his participation in an Auburn season ticket pool.

Updyke was indicted last May on two felony counts of criminal mischief, two misdemeanor counts of desecrating a venerable object and two more felony counts of an Alabama law that prohibits vandalizing or stealing any property on or from an animal or crop facility. Updyke could face as much as 42 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Though Updyke has maintained his innocence, he has also admitted to being "Al from Dadeville," the Paul Finebaum radio show caller who boasted he had poisoned the oaks in late December 2010. Updyke has since called into the show multiple times to apologize for his actions, leading to a break with his fourth attorney, Glennon Threatt. 

The oaks are not expected to survive, forcing Auburn to search for options to keep the traditional rolling of Toomer's Corner intact. The most likely approach, as recommended this week by the Committee to Determine the Future of Rolling Toomer’s Corner, will be for the oaks to be replaced by similar-sized trees once the chosen saplings have grown large enough, and for a temporary object or objects -- like some kind of wire structure -- to be used as a temporary solution until the trees are ready.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:34 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 2:31 pm
 

A first look at 2012's returning starters

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's never, ever too early to talk about the next college football season once the previous one has passed. But it's a lot less too early once the deadline for NFL Draft declarations has passed and teams can enjoy an accurate -- or at least semi-accurate -- gauge of what their returning talent will look like next season.

Thanks to data-cruncher Phil Steele, we can enjoy that same semi-accurate gauge. As he does every January -- among the teams predicted for big things at this time last year were Michigan, Alabama and Vanderbilt -- Steele has released a comprehensive list of FBS returning starters for 2012, ranking each team 1-123. Yes, 123, thanks to the arrivals of UT-San Antonio, Texas State and UMass; Larry Coker's UTSA Roadrunners even top the list with 23 total returning starters (11 offensive, 10 defensive, and both specialists) as they ready for their first WAC season.

But of course, UTSA has its work cut out for it to make an impact, no matter how experienced its players might be. Among programs college football fans are more familiar with, here's the numbers and teams from Steele's data that stand out:

  • Sharing the lead amongst all BCS programs are Texas Tech and Tennessee with 20 starters each, including quarterbacks Seth Doege and Tyler Bray, respectively. If Red Raider and Volunteer third-year coaches Tommy Tuberville and Derek Dooley can't turn that kind of experience into a better year 3 than their collective Year 2's, neither one should be surprised if they don't receive a Year 4.
  • Never say never with Chris Petersen still around, but this looks like the season Boise State's incredible run of dominance and top-10 finishes comes to a halt. The Broncos rank dead-last, rock-bottom, with just 6 starters coming back--3 offensive 2 defensive, and (infamous) kicker Dan Goodale. (Then again, in the newly TCU-less Mountain West, will anyone stop them regardless? The league leader in returning starters is Colorado State, with no other MWC program ranked higher than Fresno State at 29th.)
  • It's possible Badger fans will rue their back-to-back failures at the Rose Bowl even more than they do already; with just 10 returning starters, Wisconsin ranks at the bottom of the Big Ten and 116th overall. Big Ten fans should instead gear up now for an even-more-critical Ohio State-Michigan game than usual; the Buckeyes are second in the league behind Indiana with 18 starters, and the Wolverines are tied with Nebraska for third with 16.
  • The Vols, Auburn, Florida and Vanderbilt top the SEC list -- with 18 starters or more, all rank among the nation's 19 most experienced teams -- which means the league could see a more topsy-turvy season than usual; despite their cavalcade of young talent LSU returns just 5 defensive starters, national champions Alabama just 4. Despite major losses on the offensive line, Georgia looks poised to field the conference's best defense, with nine starters coming back for a unit already ranked fifth in the FBS.
  • Why is USC getting so much early preseason love? Pretty simple: of the 10 teams listed in Bruce Feldman's early-bird top 10, the Trojans are one of just two to have as many as 17 returning starters. The other is Oklahoma, and since the Sooners finished the year getting chewed up and spit out by Oklahoma State while the Trojans were busy upsetting Oregon in Eugene and annihilating UCLA, it's not hard to see why voters might go for the former.
  • Poor Al Golden: not only is his Miami team still laboring under the weight of the Nevin Shapiro allegations, not only do they rank 96th nationally and tie for next-to-last in the ACC with 12 returning starters, but according to Steele's data the Hurricanes are -- amazingly -- the only ACC team to not return its starting quarterback for next season. 
  • Gus Malzahn is going to be one of the FBS's most closely watched mid-major head coaches after his move from Auburn, and with six returning starters including QB Ryan Aplin on offense, the Red Wolves should be fine on that side of the ball. But with just three starters back on defense, ASU ranks 116th overall and last in the Sun Belt in total starters returning. Opposite Malzahn's punishing up-tempo attack, we'd like to place an early wager on the Red Wolves as one the nation's statistically weakest D's in 2012 ... and on Malzahn needing at least two years to return ASU to last year's championship perch.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 19, 2012 2:47 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 3:02 pm
 

Tide NT Chapman played 7 games with torn ACL

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It was already safe to say that Alabama senior nose tackle Josh Chapman -- the anchor for one of the greatest rush defenses of college football's past decade -- was one of the nation's best players this past season. It turns out he may also have been one of the toughest.

Chapman revealed Wednesday that he had undergone knee surgery the previous day and would be missing both the Senior Bowl and most of the upcoming NFL Draft Combine. The surgery repaired both a torn ACL and a torn meniscus in his left knee.

But neither the details of nor the fallout from Chapman's injury are nearly as attention-grabbing as when that injury occurred: October 1, in the Crimson Tide's 38-10 victory over Florida. 

"Normally I can deal with pain pretty well, but after three days I needed an MRI," Chapman told the Birmingham News. "Dr. (LyleCain said he's never seen a guy that can have a torn ACL and still stay that stable."

How stable? Despite the injury, Chapman missed just one of the Tide's final eight games, an intended light workout vs. FCS Georgia Southern that turned much more serious when -- thanks in part to Chapman's absence -- the triple-option Eagles ran for a stunning 302 yards.

The late surgery won't allow Chapman to be at his best for the pro scouts, but given what was at stake for the Tide, he says he never considered a premature end to his senior season.

"I didn't really want to give up like that," he said. "I enjoyed playing. As long as it stayed right, I could play."

Chapman played all right, returning from the absence vs. GSU to help the Tide allow zero offensive points over their final eight quarters (Auburn scored touchdowns on defense and special teams) and win the national title. Despite finishing the season with just 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, and one sack, Chapman is still ranked the 77th prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com, the 20th-best defensive tackle, and a possible second-round selection.

Not bad for a guy playing on one knee for two-thirds of the season.

Eye on CFB named Chapman to its 2011 All-SEC team. See who else made the cut by clicking here.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 18, 2012 2:13 pm
 

Illinois FB Jay Prosch to transfer to Auburn

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We mentioned in the wake of Barrett Trotter's departure from the Auburn football program that Gene Chizik appeared to be looking to move in a pro-style direction with his new offensive coordinator hire--a decision that looks even more likely with the delay in replacing Gus Malzahn rumored to be due to Chizik interviewing candidates still involved in the NFL playoffs. But the arrival of a new transfer from Illinois now makes that philosophical shift look more likely than ever.

That player is Illini fullback Jay Prosch, a Mobile (Ala.) native who will be transferring to Auburn in order to be closer to his ailing mother, who is battling cancer. New Illinois head coach Tim Beckman announced Prosch's decision in a statement Wednesday.

"Jay Prosch has decided to transfer to Auburn and will be there for the current semester," Beckman said. "He will have an opportunity to be much closer to his mother, who continues to face health issues. We wish Jay the best as he makes this move."

Prosch could be available for the Tigers as soon as the 2012 season, if the NCAA approves a hardship waiver due to his mother's health; if not, he will redshirt during his transfer year and return with two years of eligibility remaining in 2013.

Though the transfer of few fullbacks would make headlines, Prosch isn't any ordinary fullback. He was named a first-team All-American by Pro Football Weeklyan honor that essentially amounts to the publication naming the sophomore the FBS's top pro prospect at the position. Prosch became the Illini's starting lead blocker as a true freshman and helped the team to an 11th-place finish in rushing in 2010, thanks in large part to his workout-warrior strength and devotion to the weight room.

Prosch recently admitted to the Mobile Press-Register that he may have considered staying in Champaign if not for the Illini's head coaching change, which will see the team move to a spread system that doesn't utilize fullbacks; Beckman reportedly told Prosch he would be used as either an H-back or tight end, and with Prosch claiming he's "never been trained in running pass routes," a diminishing role appeared to be a certainty.

But this begs the question: why transfer to Auburn, whose offense under Malzahn also rarely (if ever) used a traditional fullback? Prosch said he had been cleared to talk to 11 of the 12 SEC schools (the Illini prohibited him from following ex-Illini assistant and newly-hired coordinator Paul Petrino to Arkansas), many of which already employ pro-style offenses and use Prosch-like fullbacks far more regularly than the Tigers.

The answer is very, very likely to be that Auburn is about to become the sort of team that regularly uses a fullback. And fortunately for Chizik, his team stands poised to start by using one of the nation's best.

For daily real-time updates on Auburn or Illinois football, follow our Tiger CBSSports.com RapidReports by Jay Tate here or Cody Westerlund's Illini RapidReports here. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com