Posted on: February 16, 2011 9:12 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 10:53 pm
What I like about this story is the meticulous care taken in reporting a prank.
Example: Note the amount of poison found in the soil to the exact decimal point. Is this an autopsy or just dead trees?
If you didn't think the Auburn-Alabama rivalry was a big deal, it now involves the Paul Finebaum show, soil samples, presidential statements and tree forensics. Let's hope this isn't taken to the next level and some Bama fans steals every piece of toilet paper in Auburn. Although, that would kind of balance things out. No trees to roll, no rolls. Makes sense.
There is an obvious warning for Auburn fans going forward: With your famous trees dying, don't drink the Kool-Aid.
Posted on: February 5, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 1:23 pm
Observations after being trapped in Dallas this week by an ice storm on one end and a blizzard in the Midwest on the other. After three flight cancellations, two rental cars and a 154-minute delay at DFW, I made it home.
Please tell me you share my joy.
--With the Super Bowl in Big D this week (actually, Big A, Arlington), the NFL needs to take action. Isn't it about time Roger Goodell fines the National Weather Service $25,000 for excessive blows to the region?
--If there is anyone who should be aware of the dangers of frostbite it is a college hockey player, right?
--The latest UGA -- bulldog mascot -- has died at Georgia. New signee Isaiah Crowell should be getting a call soon. Crowell brought a bull pup to his signing press conference to emphasize his love of the Dawgs. I'm thinking the puppy has plenty of eligibility left to become the new UGA.
--In response to one of his columns about college training techniques, the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi got this from a reader: "Since 2000 — 21 college football players dead. I am an ex-Marine, and I have to believe that in the same time frame we had more young people go through boot camp with less fatalities. And I would guess our boots [soldiers] started at a lower level of conditioning. So what is wrong?"
The three biggest stories of the week -- at least in this corner of the world -- were National Signing Day, the firings and suspensions of medical personnel at Iowa and Rich Rodriguez.
Your reactions ...
Dennis, what coach (Rodriguez) does not understand is that he thought he was hired to FIX something. He kept saying it would take time to FIX. Michigan was not broke! They competed for Big Ten titles every year. They were in the national title hunt a few times. They went to bowl games 30 straight years!! He never built on that success. He ruined it.
Man of Michigan:
Rich Rod didn't use the word "fix" until he got on campus and saw the dearth of talent. Maybe he should have done a better job of evaluating talent. I'll give you that.
But "Rodriguez supporters" -- you'll see the math here-- paint a different picture of the state of Michigan football when Rich Rod arrived.
Dennis, nice article about Rich Rodriguez. I am a Michigan fan, and really appreciate hearing Rich's side of the story. I met Coach Rod at his UM football camp and when he posed for pictures with my special needs son, he really impressed me. I would love to write or e-mail him at CBS and express my thanks for his service to UM -- if you would pass along any contact info for Rich, I'd appreciate it. Please keep up the good work in your columns, Go Blue! - Jim C.
You can contact my here in the fan feedback section. I'll e-mail you Rich Rod's contact information.
Dear Dennis, When could you see Howard Schnellenberger retiring?
FAU have a heck of a question:
Haven't thought about that in a while but it is a worthwhile inquiry. Schnellie will be 77 on March 16. In four of his five years at FAU, the Owls have finished in the top three in the Sun Belt Conference. (They tied for the league title in 2007 and won the New Orleans Bowl.)
As long as Howard continues to be energized and remains healthy, I see no reason why he can't keep going. The strategy now seems to be one year a time. Schnellenberger was extended in 2007 through 2010 but a clause in the deal (per this blog) says an additional year was added to the deal because the Owls' new stadium was not finished.
Schnellenberger wants to keep going. He's fine with basically a year-to-year contract. The Sun Belt remains winnable in any given year. Why not?
Not so fast Dennis. Looks like Clemson has caught Jadeveon Clowney's attention. Clemson has put defensive players in the NFL with handsome paychecks as well. SEC is not a lock for this talent.
Climpson's For Clowney:
Agreed. When I wrote this Clowney piece Clemson wasn't as much in the picture as it is now. Dabo Swinney has done a great job of rallying late in recruiting. This is going to buy him some time. If Clowney does come to Clemson it's going to be a monster recruiting class.
You know what happens after monster recruiting classes -- monster expectations.
Being an Auburn fan, at first I thought this Clowney column was going to be downing the SEC. But after I read it, I really enjoyed it and appreciate you Dodd doing us all a favor and actually talking about football. Thanks!
Friend of Aubie:
I'm glad to write something new(ton) about Auburn. For a large part of the season the words, "NCAA", "Cecil", "payoff", "Mississippi State", "sleaze" and "cheating" were required in any mention of the Tigers. Even up to the point when they won in Arizona. Even up to the point when we wonder how long that national championship will last.
If the kid's dad knew sickle cell ran in the family why didn't he have the young man tested for it?
Seems a responsible parent would do just that and not blame a college for giving his or her child a chance at a better life via a free education. But that would have meant they took responsibility for their son's well being, huh? May also have meant no football with a chance at the NFL and a big payday for the entire family.
The bottom line is no matter how hard society and a bunch of lawyers try, there's no child proofing the world. Life is filled with adventure, danger and mixed results. This was one of those adventures that didn't have a storybook ending.
I wouldn't call the death of a player and "adventure."
The fact is, Bennie Abram's dad only had an idea that sickle cell ran in the family. I'm betting he was no medical expert and had no idea what it meant to his son. Besides. Ole Miss HAD tested Bennie Abram for sickle cell. The family is suing for wrongful death because of the way Abram's treatment was handled.
That's where there is sometimes a disconnect. It's one thing testing a player. It's another telling him and his family. It's another, then, dealing with that player in the proper way during playing and practice seasons.
I believe Alaska was the last state to test for sickle cell at birth (or the remaining state that doesn't). Point is, the hospital may test for it, the test may be positive, the doctors may notify the parents, but what does that mean 18 years later when the kid is in college? The parents may have forgotten. There may not even be symptoms up to that point.
By the way, the Abrams are not suing a school that gave their child a "free education". Bennie Abram was a loyal Rebel who wanted to play so bad for Ole Miss that he walked on.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 12:46 pm
CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported that Newton "seriously injured his lower back" late in the game and was X-rayed following the postgame press conference. By Tuesday morning it become evident around the Auburn camp that Newton had gotten X-rays although coach Gene Chizik did not provide details.
"I do not [have an update]," Chizik said Tuesday at the morning-after press conference. "This is a guy who is a competitor. He's playing in a championship game. Whatever pain he felt, whatever difficulty he was having, he was going to finish the game. We'll know more today."
Obviously, the Heisman Trophy winner's injury could have a significant impact. Newton must decide by Saturday whether to declare for the NFL Draft. If the injury is serious enough it could impact his draft position or even impact his decision on whether to go to the NFL.
"I don't want [anyone] to feel sorry for me," Newton told Freeman.
"As far as knowing what the extent of the injury is right now, I will know more later today," Chizik added.
Auburn will be traveling most of the day because of weather issues back east. That update might not come until late in the day.
Posted on: January 9, 2011 7:31 pm
It's the little things in the BCS championship game. It's the little things because we know about the big things.
Figure Cam Newton for 200+ passing and 100+ rushing. Figure LaMichael James for 100+ rushing and a couple of touchdowns. Pencil Nick Fairley in for at least three tackles for loss and a personal four or two. None of that would surprise any of us.
It's the little things.
"I think it is real simple," Auburn's Gene Chizik said. "It is probably 200 years old ... We know that we have an explosive offense. We know that we have the capability of scoring a lot of points. What we'd like to do offensively is keep the football and eat some clock, get some first downs."
About that, Auburn is 86th in time of possession (29:01 per game) but is 11th in first downs (24.31). I'm a big stat guy so I think that's important. It's another indicator that Auburn is more like Oregon offensively than anyone knows. The difference in these two teams offensively is that I think Auburn wants to drive the ball, while Oregon wants to score quickly. Hence, the 79 plays per game. Possessions will have to be valued greatly. I compare it to a tennis match. If you don't score in this game, you lose serve.
I go back to the Oregon's USC game on Halloween. USC had a bye week to prepare for the Ducks' high-flying offense. Lane Kiffin spent a lot of time conditioning the Trojans. They were up to it to the point that USC scored two quick touchdowns in the third quarter to go ahead 32-29. Oregon then scored 24 unanswered to win 53-32. Do I think that will happen against Auburn? No. My point is that no matter what happens, Oregon's defense is going to be left on the field for an inordinate amount of time.
The Ducks average 1.76 points per minute of possession but their defense spends more than 32 minutes per game on the field.
For Oregon, gang tackling is going to be key against Cam Newton. The Ducks have six players with at least 25 tackles. Linebacker Casey Matthews is the energy guy (73 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 3 sacks). Corner Cliff Harris (five picks) is the big-play guy. He averages 19.5 yards per punt return and has taken four to the house.
As for Oregon's offense, I suspect Chip Kelly will come out early running the zone read side-to-side with James. That will serve to tire out Auburn's defensive line, which obviously is its strength. When I talked to James following the Oregon State he told me that he -- and the coaches -- favor him getting up field more and using his body. Even though James is only 185, maybe 190, he is one of the hardest hitters in the game when he sticks his nose up in there.
Even though he's got a space-age offense, Kelly will try to manage this game like an NFL coach. Take chances, open it up and try to get out to a lead in the first half. If that happens, look for James running up in the creases to tire out Auburn. There is a line of thinking that Kelly has "hidden" much of the offense down the stretch. Quarterback Darron Thomas hasn't done much running. Look for that to be a factor too with Thomas rolling out with a run-pass option.
"Defensively, we think it is very simple. Again, that's 200 years old," Chizik said. "We've got to definitely stop the run first. We cannot give up the big plays in the secondary."
That's Auburn's biggest weakness. Only 14 teams are worse than Auburn against the pass.
The second half, particularly the fourth-quarter will be key. That sounds simple, but is really the identity of these teams. Oregon has outscored opponents 277-77 in the second half. Auburn has outscored foes 125-48 in the fourth quarter. That begins to explain why each of these teams has eight come-from-behind wins.
The final factor: Which team has the biggest chip on its shoulder? Make that Chip. Oregon has been acting like the team that is here on business. It got to the Valley early. There was scant media availability. We didn't even know Kelly was in town until Friday when he appeared at the mandated media day. The Ducks are still thinking about their performance in last year's Rose Bowl. They weren't physical enough against a quarterback of a similar build as Newton, Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor.
Prediction: I thought former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti broke it down perfectly Sunday when he said Auburn runs a Wildcat offense on every play with Newton. Defensive coordinators call a running quarterback a "plus one" because he has to be accounted for on every play -- an extra running back if you will. New Texas coordinator Manny Diaz -- who coached against Newton in his second Auburn game with Mississippi State -- called the quarterback a "plus one and a half."
We've talked about the little things here. Like Chizik said, it's simple. Go with Newton. No one has stopped him yet. I don't think Oregon is going to be the first. Auburn 41, Oregon 31.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 8:27 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2011 12:24 am
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Auburn isn't going to lay down. That much is official as the Tigers try to deal with the most explosive offense in the country.
Oregon averages 49.33 points per game according to the NCAA, No. 1 nationally. More to the point, Oregon scores those points quickly. The Ducks are 103rd in time of possession (27:59 per game). That figures out to an average of 1.76 points per minute of possession. Only 21 of 91 scoring drives this season lasted more than 2:43.
That leaves a lot of defensive tongues dragging. Chip Kelly's offense is so effective that basketball types have become interested with its pace. Kelly talks regularly with Oregon women's coach Paul Westhead (The Guru of Go). Representatives from the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers visited Kelly and the Ducks in the offseason.
"We're not going to do that," Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said Thursday at the BCS championship game press conferences. "We're going to line up and play."
There is an NCAA rule that prohibits such tactics.
"Most likely the officials will warn the team, 'Get up, get up or you'll be penalized,' " before a penalty according to Dave Parry, the national coordinator of officials.
Opponents going European soccer on the Ducks -- aka diving -- started in September during a game at Arizona State.
"It's kind of like a World Cup game here with the crowd and these injuries," Kelly said at the time.
The practice became so common that Oregon fans began booing each time there was an opponent injury -- legitimate or not.
"The fake injuries, the cramps, that's stuff that sometimes can really kill our drives and sometimes really motivates us," Oregon receiver Jeff Maehl said. "We put our foot on the pedal even more ... It's becoming a strategy for other teams. If that's the route they want to take, that's part of the game. It shows a lot of mental weakness."
Oregon comes into the game fourth nationally averaging 79.25 plays per game. The top three are all from the Big 12 -- Oklahoma (86.5), Texas Tech (81) and Texas A&M (80.75).
"Hopefully my wind can hold up," said Auburn All-American defensive tackle Nick Fairley. "That's one thing we're not going to do ... fake an injury to slow them down."
Auburn's best chance is to stop Oregon on first down. That's when the Ducks offense faces the same challenge as a conventional unit, converting second- and third-down and long. Cal's lollygagging worked but so did the fact that it had effective back seven that allowed it to cover receivers one-and-one and devote the rest of the defense to the run. The Bears held Oregon to season lows in points (15) and points (317) in the Ducks' 15-13 victory.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: December 30, 2010 4:15 pm
Jan. 8 -- I'll never forget a crushed Mack Brown in the Rose Bowl hallway leading to the Texas lockerroom after losing to Alabama. I ask him, "Would Colt [McCoy] have made a difference?" Mack: "It wouldn't have been close."
Feb. 1 -- What's so special about Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul, Minn. No. 1 recruit Seantrel Henderson? A lot. But the kid's nationally televised commitment to USC turns out to be a mockery of the system.
March 17 -- Before Butler bounces a ball in the NCAA Tournament I was there to chronicle what was then a stepping-stone job.
Also in May -- Haley Dodd graduates from high school, commits to the University of Missouri.
June 1 -- Big 12 spring meetings begin in Kansas City with all hell breaking loose.
June 3 -- Big 12 schools are so spooked by impending conference realignment that an ultimatum is issued: Declare loyalty or else. Nebraska won't commit, having been in talks with Big Ten since January.
June 9 -- Colorado announces it is joining the Pac-10.
June 11 -- Nebraska trashes Texas on the way to announcing its departure for the Big Ten in 2011. The Longhorns take their worst beating in seven years.
A portion of the remaining Big 12 have nots (Missouri, Iowa State, etc.) agree that Texas should get an increased share of conference revenue just because it's Texas. There is no Big 12 with it. The Horns spend the rest of the year establishing its own network, reportedly with ESPN for $15 million per year.
June 16 -- Troy is burned to the ground.
July 21 -- Nick Saban goes there with the p-word.
August 15 -- Haley moves into her University of Missouri dorm 30 years after her dad moved out of Columbia. Yes, a few sentimental tears were shed.
August 27 -- It's the Year of the Comeback.
September 7 -- Boise State launches itself into a season-long national conversation with a 33-30 win over Virginia Tech.
October 9 -- It's officially a national race again as defending national champ Alabama loses to South Carolina.
October 12 -- Turns out, South Carolina's win was a bigger deal than we thought. The Gamecocks become only the 45th team ever (in wire service era) to a beat a No. 1 team.
November 4 -- Story breaks of Cam Newton's dad soliciting $180,000 from Mississippi State.
November 6 -- Matt Hayes of the Sporting News and I get trapped in the LSU postgame celebration after an amazing win over Alabama. We get a behind-the-scenes look at the LSU's coach's "Lesticles."
Non-BCS story of the year: While covering that Boise-Nevada game on a bitterly cold night in Reno, a window in the press box has to be cracked so the clock crew "can hear the whistle." We're not exactly in Columbus, folks. Haven't heard a line like that since the Class 4-A state title game in 1984.
November 27 -- Miami's Randy Shannon is fired after an uninspired loss to South Florida. Jon Gruden gets his name in the search, as he always does, but in the first major hire of his career, AD Kirby Hocutt eventually picks Temple's Al Golden.
December 1 -- The best guy to talk about Kyle Brotzman's disappointment happens to be Boise resident and fan Bill Buckner.
December 5 -- Told you it was the Year of the Comeback.
December 19 -- Jack and dad enjoy the Chiefs and Rams in St. Louis during Christmas break. It's nice watching a game without a deadline to meet or a petulant coach to question. It's even better doing it with my wingman.
It was a great year. May 2011 be even better.
Tags: Alabama, Ascension Catholic School, Auburn, Baylor, BCS, Big Ten, Big Ten, Boise State, Butler, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colorado, Cretin-Derham Hall High, CYO football, ESPN, Final Four, Frozen Four, Haley Dodd, Heisman, Iowa State, Jack Dodd, Janet Dodd, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Magic Johnson, Mexico, Miami, Mississippi State, Missouri, NCAA Tournament, Nebraska, Newport Beach, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-10, Padres, Rams, South Carolina, Texas, Texas, USC, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, World Cup
Posted on: December 13, 2010 5:59 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 6:06 pm
How good is Cam Newton?
Good enough to win the Heisman. Good enough to get Auburn into the national champioship game. Good enough to play in the NFL after one season in I-A.
Good enough to get Gus Malzahn the mother of all assistant coach raises. There were reports Monday that the Auburn offensive coordinator had decided to stay at the school for $1.3 per year. That's $200,000 less than what he would have earned at Vanderbilt (that $3 million per year deal was off).
The move likely saves Malzahn's career -- Vandy is a notorious coach killer -- and makes him what is believed to be the highest paid assistant in the country.
How high? A quick check of USA Today's head coaching salary database shows that Malzahn now makes more per year than the base salaries of half the coaches in the country (61 schools). Ten schools did not provide salary information to the paper.
Let's see: Double his salary as an offensive coordinator at the top of the SEC (and country) or make $1.5 million at bottom feeder Vanderbilt. Guz Malzahn made the right choice.
Posted on: December 12, 2010 6:31 pm
Not saying it won't happen but Gus Malzahn to Vanderbilt hasn't happened yet.