Tag Archives: Mario Fannin

Menu (are going to win)

4 roasts
10 turkeys
3 hams
8 pans dressing
12 boxes greens
3 sweet potato souffles
24 lbs green beans
6 big bag carrots
12 lbs cranberry sauce
5 bags broccoli
1 case each strawberry cloud cake, chocolate dream cakes,
4 lemon meringue pies
4 pecan pies
320 dinner rolls

From The Gold Mine

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Thoughts from the West Texas observatory – La. Monroe

Anonymous Flickr Auburn Fan mocks my handicap…

By J. Henderson

I promise I’ll soon shut-up about my expatriate acclimation, but allow me to say that while running out to the new neighborhood grocery store with my young’n just before kickoff to buy the Fritos we forgot earlier at Wal-Mart, and hearing the Texas Tech game (they won big) playing over the intercom, but then having my Dad call, holding the phone up for me to hear the eagle fly, fly, fly, me trying to keep the phone on my shoulder while holding young’n’s hand in the check out line, and then hearing the tinny, apocalyptic “hell, yeah, hell, yeah dun, dun, dun, dun, dun”-style pre-pre-game video as she said “Look Daddy, Auburn colors” to the M&M’s I just poured out for her before we hopped back in the van, well, allow me to say that I almost broke down.

It was all XM last night. The first I saw of anything that happened yesterday on Pat Dye Field was this wee-hour morning, I was the 45th view of Plainsgmail’s YouTubed ESPN 40 sec. highlight clip.

Listen to Holtz gush over Robert Dunn (and James? Jane?) — do you think The Auburner got to him? (They did make this, right?)

And speaking of The Auburner, then I found their highlight video. And it made me very happy.

Amazing, and thank you.

But now, knowing that I only heard, knowing that I wasn’t sweating my way back home through the steamy kudzu shouts of victory up Bragg Ave. after the game (oh mercy), but thousands of miles away in a computer chair, allow me my thoughts on Week One.

I think it says something, a good something, that a first game 34-0 shutout of any team, even (or especially) one bearing the psychic “remember what they did to… what if… ” gravitas of this year’s La. Monroe (though I was the first to predict a loss almost literally impossible because of said gravitas) at first seemed so disappointing, inauspicious even.

However, from my pathetic vantage point I don’t there is as much cause for gloomish alarm regarding the offense as text messages from the front (thank you Russell) made out. I won’t run through the stats and such (but a little something interesting was Rod Bramblett’s comment that by scoring his touchdown, Robert Dunn broke the nation’s longest no-punt-return-for-TD drought, it was our first punt return for a touchdown since 1996, seems almost impossible — and while we’re on the subject of Dunn, though my dreamy “watch for this” regarding a Todd to Smith shuffle pass to the right for a touchdown almost seemed / sounded to come true at some point in the 3rd quarter, I say we go ahead and award Jerry the Leonard Postosties Smart Pill Award for the entire year for his just before kickoff prognostication:

4. Robert Dunn is going to break a punt return this year.

End parentheses)…

Here’s the obvious:

Tony Franklin is obviously to be taken seriously when he waxes strategic on his spread wearing down defenses as we obviously got better in the second half, thanks perhaps to the much improved performance of the offensive line possibly resulting from, as Will notes, and Quentin Riggins reported, a lively exhortation from Tony the Tiger … we obviously should get the ball to Fannin more (guaranteed and instant five yard gain from first point of contact with defender), Ben Tate is obviously awesome, Antonio Coleman will obviously, tragically kill a man before December, and Paul Rhoads should obviously be pleased — his first coached play as Auburn’s defensive coordinator resulted in a touchdown, the first point’s of ’08.

As for the quarterback situation, it’s obviously as I, and most everyone, suspected, and as the handwriting on the wall said all along — total Voltron-style.

I, for one, don’t think this is a bad thing. I never have. Perhaps I don’t know anything, not one thing, but I can’t help but think that as long as (or especially if) Chrodi Torns (or, if you prefer, Khrisodi Burn-Stodd) is fine with it, it’s actually a good thing. I don’t think the purported, and yeah, logical, psychological benefits of lone leaderdom negate the potential for similar benefits / results from a dual-threat tandem. Nor do I buy into the idea, batted around by Q and the gang early in last night’s radio broadcast, that the revolving doorness of it all might be the source of Chrodi Torns’ seemingly stymied grooves. That might fly if Burns and Todd were switching places on every down, but surely not every series — wouldn’t a QB’s specialized biorhythms simply interpret the extra breathers as a sustained drive by the other team or a long CBS-style TV timeout? In fact, as my man Stan White countered, the system, as implemented last night, might theoretically enhance said (said said said) biorhythms, infusing them with the dopamine of competition. Or something. I don’t know. I just don’t think the quarterback rotation had much of anything to do with the early, very ’07-style offensive ineffectuality. I think that’s mistaking a symptom for the cause. I just think that, instead of one first-time-starting quarterbacks struggling in a a season opener, we saw two.

I don’t think that will last long.

My continued hopes however, oh yes, they last, they go on… because if the loitering hurricanes, the new coordinators, and the new offensive system haven’t seemed familiar enough to flood your veins with pangs of the eternal pangs and dreams of ’04, please to enjoy not only Will’s great recap of yesterday (and Jerry’s too! great!), but his included recap of 2004’s season opener against… La. Monroe.

Disclaimer: this is not by any stretch a prediction. But. Four years ago, I wrote this about an Auburn opening against… LAMO:

On the one hand, you’ve got a workmanlike shutout of (let’s face it) one of the worst football teams in the country. To their great credit, Louisiana Monroe’s players didn’t show a lot of give-up on Saturday, but they also didn’t show a whole lot of ability. Auburn substituted all the way into the scout team by the fourth quarter, and the closest LA-MO ever got to scoring was a couple of missed field goals. On the other hand…

Look, it’s obvious that the AU coaches went into this game intending to show future opponents absolutely nothing of use, and it’s safe to say that they succeeded. “Vanilla” doesn’t begin to describe the blandness of the formations and plays displayed on Saturday. Try “tasteless and odorless,” or maybe “invisible.”

… With that understood, there are still worries. Either La-Mo’s defensive line has gotten a lot better since last October (entirely possible; they were big and quick, easily the best-looking athletes as a group that the Indians fielded), or Hugh Nall still has a lot of work to do up front. Run blocking was hit-and-miss (sometimes literally), and pass blocking was downright bad a lot of the time. And don’t get me started on the reappearance of last year’s bugaboo, the dreaded slanting defenders. More than once, a friend sitting nearby said, “It’s a good thing they suck, or we’d be in trouble.”

I would also be remiss if I didn’t admit that Jason Campbell’s play was not encouraging. Whether by habit, design, or just happenstance, Campbell is still locking in on his first guy and not seeing open receivers down the field, he’s throwing behind the receiver too often, and his two turnovers were flat-out awful, the kind of stuff you expect from a freshman, not a fifth-year senior.

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?

Now, once again–not a prediction, or anything remotely like it. I’m not expecting, anticipating, or even wildly dreaming about a 2004-ish run for this team. But it’s still comforting, in an odd and nostalgic kind of way, that the best Auburn season in recent history also started against LAMO, and not with a bang, but with a “What the–?”

Now, in other news, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Bama is back.

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Loveliest Village de la Llano Estacado

It’s a big deal for me. Got a real job. Moving to Texas. West Texas. Intense.

Just as intense is what I’m having to sacrifice for that job. Not only my home, my Auburn throne, but media credentials. A press pass. Every Auburn home game. Don’t ask how. True story. Finally happened. In the box. Free food. Scarbinsky. Rubbing elbows. High fives with Housel. On the sidelines. Sweaty stares from Yoxall.

In fact, I could be at Media Days right now if I wanted, name tag and everything, Diet Cokes, blogging between-the-line prognostications of what shall unfold (I’m telling you, God love Burns, God love Todd, Tristan, Tray, Coleman, Ziemba, Byrum, Tate, Lester, God love’em all — but the secret, season-hinging ninja of 2008 will be Mario Fannin, just watch, just feel, he can’t run up the middle much because of the shoulders, but spread him out and feed him a mushroom), and blogging about all the bloggers and then heading over to Diamond Jims, that place still there?

But just as I achieve almost-tucked-in respectability, just as I catch my breath, just as I right myself in order to take in the finish-line view atop this Everest of (detrimental? genius?) Auburn obsession, the Lord, with a gust of His mighty wind, whisks me to the treeless board game of Red Raider land.

“mike leach. mike leeeeeeeeeachhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. the bell ringer. pirates. sharks. mike leach.”

ESPN’s Mack Schlabach actually predicted T. Tech to meet in the Sugar Bowl, which will be hard because we’ll be in the Orange Bowl. We’ll still beat them though.

This will be a strange, new world for me, not just geographically, but in the heart. Discounting away games, I’ve never been a fan on foreign shores, I’ve never lived more than two hours away from the front (what’s it like, y’all?). I’ve been in echo distance of Jordan-Hare for the past 11 years of my life — I basically walk to the games from my house — and soon it’ll be more than 1,000 miles, a fact which will be rendered utterly, utterly poignant by season’s end, as I’m sure we’ll win it all (four years from ’04, feels right).

Hopefully, The War Eagle Reader can keep things happening. Maybe my new circumstances will give birth to an actual, sustainable theme to this blog; let’s not kid ourselves, it’s been a schizoid first year… if I had it to do over again, I’d really try to craft my natural, this-guy’s-got-problems-but-I-like-it embed persona, the place you’d come not for the stats and stuff, but the Tristan Davis sightings, the smells of Haley Center, the tailgate romance, the Kroger aisle electricity, the 30 mph twilight Bragg Ave. boob flashings from the back of pickups after we’ve beaten LSU. Looking back, that kinda seems like what I was going for in my bizarre first real, real post, after last year’s Kansas State game:

The frat houses and dorms soak not with the anticipated musk of conquest, but rather the quiet mocha of relief. The kids wake up with tender smiles and cuddle. Swig not the Budweiser dregs for breakfast this Sunday, my friends, rather brunch together with wholesome grains and warm cheeses, share with one another and laugh nervously, but proudly, and press on in the faith, for next week will likely be more of the same, and we need our strength. We need each other.

Yes, thank you, Lord, for Auburn football.

Maybe J.M. will continue to rock the Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers category the way it was supposed to be rocked, and rock other things… maybe I’ll still post random pictures from Auburn’s 1970s… maybe I can finally convince Chris Shelling Jr. to recap the games, recap them with purity and wisdom, all the way from the Empire of the Sun. Maybe I can monetize this sucker and buy my family back to God’s country. I don’t see why it all can’t happen — such is the power and beauty of the internet: Toomer’s Corner web cams, the blAUgosphere, 2008.

But it could stop, I guess. Schedules and stuff. We’ll see what happens. Until then, War Eagle, War Eagle forever.

Wait, I almost forgot. There is the matter of The Pants. Who is going to take up the slacks, as it were, in my stead? Jerry, if you’re still coming down, it might totally have to be you – that would totally prove the sorta southern dedication to the game you’ve been claiming to those Michigan “football” fan friends of yours.

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45 days…

[thanks to Jimbo!]

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Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers – 2.25.08


Dean James Foy, 90, sings the Auburn Fight Song during yesterday’s presentation of the ODK Trophy which bears his name, the man can wail. Photo by Frank Couch.

*** Kind of an awesome Auburn weekend: Auburn’s swimming and diving teams, both the men’s and women’s, extend their exclusive patent on water with two more SEC titles… Auburn’s baseball team opens its season with three wins over East Tennessee State… we beat Bama soundly in basketball as Dean Foy, in the way only he can, exults in the unprecedented glow of six football wins in a row and Coach Tuberville lays down lines like: “Regardless of what you’ve read or heard, we will have a football team next year. We’ve won six and we’re working on seven. War Eagle!”…


Photo by Frank Couch

… we get what seems to be a very solid commitment from what seems to be a very solid player in defensive end Terrance Coleman, nephew of the great Antonio… and then we get to see that yes, Auburn will have a football team next year, a fast, exciting team.

*** Along those lines, I was there, there for the practice, most of it (couldn’t afford the basketball game, ahem). It was a sweet flash of huddle-less hyperactivity; those boys will be nothing if not in shape for it was quite literally non-stop. Some observations… Tony Franklin, if that was even him, looks far different from the photos we’ve seen, but that’s what you want in an offensive genius: shape shifting… Mario Fannin can break chains with a flex… Paul Rhoads will be popular amongst his players… Kodi, as we all know, can chunk the ball.


Excitement quietly ruled the afternoon. The sun set. The smell of cut grass lingers. Click here for my incredible photo odyssey…

*** 8th Bama player arrested in 14 month Saban-era: Joining the ranks or recent Tide team leaders Juwan Simpson, and Simeon Castille, Alabama safety, Rashad Johnson, a team captain, was arrested over the weekend for allegedly assaulting a security guard for a Tuscaloosa bar, the second player arrest in a week. Is this even news any more? I’ve often wondered how life changes for the everyday Tuscaloosans dealt into these fiascoes; almost certainly Bama fans themselves, do the once-anonymous cops, the bruised bar bouncers, the robbed at gun-point classmates, struggle with their fanhood, their fanliness, after the fact, knowing that fate forced them to help heap even more ignominy on the University of Alabama’s football program?


Filed under Auburn Baseball, Auburn Basketball, Recruiting, Toomer's Rumors and Boomers

Good Moon Rising?

by J. Henderson

Frothy mugs of satisfaction were passed around in our throats and our skin crawled with the moonlight joy of ‘just winning’ and the beauty is that, in the end, we won handedly – the way these sorts of games are supposed to be won, up in the 50s, 55-20 to be exact. And that was a pretty decent team – did you know that early in the second quarter, Auburn had 71 yards to NSMU’s 266? (Thank you, new scoreboard, it does add an extra dimension.) It took until the final minutes of the game for us to catch them.

There were no boos, there were cheers all around and for the first time this season, our children did not have to ask their Dads if Auburn had the ball, they knew it and they could hear it and yelled accordingly. Yes Billy, we had the ball and we finally did something with it. And when New Mexico State had the ball, the one-man We of Jonathan Wilhite took it from them a couple of times, important times.

It was a beautiful, windy night. It did not rain. The moon was everywhere. And I mean, yeah, we all knew – when it was over, and when we racing home for the Bama loss that would swing life even more back into focus, when through the streets and gravel and the cigar smoke and headlights we jumped up and down and “War Eagle’d” from the balconies, yeah, we knew that it was it was just New Mexico State, and that’s almost why it was so New Year’s Eve and everything: it goes back to that ‘religion, purified’ idea. This is Auburn Football 2007 and the joy is in the journey, the joy is in being a fan.

So, I saw things. I saw beautiful throws, dropped balls, caught balls. If Robert Dunn can ever thaw out his hands, he will be a great player, but I say that the dropping of passes – in the numbers, in the hands, it doesn’t seem to matter – is by far our largest offensive tumor.

I saw tough running. I saw Mario Fannin make tacklers wish they played another position and I stayed to see his stat padding sideline scamper. I saw Ben Tate play like a man, I saw Jerraud Powers kill one, several.

[replay of first TD]

I saw New Mexico State turn Brandon Cox’s comeback fumble into a touchdown in one play but during that blinding, 60 second psychotropic nightmare, I heard nary a single boo, no, instead I heard bone-snapping, sinew-raping, personal growth. I saw the coaches put him back him. It was fragrant.

We are by no means great, and have only put a small down payment on being good, but Auburn winked towards Gainesville tonight, did you see it? Probably about the time the lucky, and banged up Gators pulled back into town, did you feel it? A 7pm game? Stars? Aligning? 1994? It would have made much more cosmic sense had Lester been returned to the active fold in time for the Gators, but you know, maybe not – whether or not he has anything directly to do with it, this has been Tuberville’s style… don’t opt for the easy cosmic sense, go double or nothin’, we’ll see that four game suspension and raise you two more, a single player does not patented Auburn Drama ® make. And hopefully, oh so hopefully, Tristan’s toe will be healed and the state of Florida will know Speed – biblically. And maybe the return of Blackmon?

I’ve been predicting it from the beginning and by “it”, I mean a resounding win, but I digress.

Despite the notes from at least one ‘live blog‘ I’ve seen bemoaning a paltry turnout and even questioning the commitment of Auburn fans, Saturday night’s crowd was actually nearly 1,000 people larger than that at last week’s SEC opener against Mississippi State and it felt like it. Had this once-gimme-game – again, against New Mexico State – been the fourth of the shining season we had hoped for, I would almost guarantee you that it would have been several thousand less, even if played in the afternoon. While the nighttime aspect likely added to the atmospheric incentives for a significant portion of folks, the late start also probably kept many at home. And so I therefore think that, after two punch-in-the-gut losses in a row, the numbers – even more so than the “Brandon! Brandon! Brandon!’s” – speak a great deal of good about Auburn fans, and in the wake of the nauseating phenomenon of last week, it was a statement that needed to be made. The number of Auburn fans on-hand in Jordan-Hare Stadium to see the Tigers take on the New Mexico State Aggies at 6pm would not have fit inside the facilities provided for the fans of such teams as Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Miami and Florida State, just to name a few. Do you read that? The biggest home games that Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Miami, Florida State and zillions more have ever played were attended by at least a thousand less people than were spilling it all for the Auburn Tigers last night – against New Mexico State.

It was a good night, a good day, a good sleep, a good Sunday. We’re Auburn.

War Eagle. We have a busy week.

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