Tag Archives: Paul Finebaum

“Walk-On” out in stores

Walk-On, the new book from former Auburn star Thom Gossom, was finally released last Tuesday — perhaps you remember hearing about it in my recent novel.

You can order it directly from Borders or get a personalized copy at www.walkongossom.com. But you might actually catch him at J&M this Saturday, signing books before we embarrass LSU.

There have been some other write ups and last week, Paul Finebaum took a break from his busy career in erotica to have Thom on his radio show. Paul, of course, took the opportunity to insinuate that Auburn just really hates black people, that it always has hated black people, that it will forever continue to hate and loathe and belittle black people. Keep them down. Bench them. Second-string them.

He refers to Auburn as “… a school that’s always had a rap with the racial issue…”and as having “a reputation as a bad place for black players over the years.” He wants to know if “that’s been rectified” and also “why every time there’s a black quarterback down there it’s an instant controversy, one of those may be going on right now…”

Keep in mind this was while discussing a book written about, among other things, Auburn’s leading role in integrating college football in the state of Alabama.

Here’s the math:

Kodi Burns + second string = Tommy Tuberville, racist.

Oh, also keep in mind that Kodi Burns is not only the current fan favorite for the starting job but the latest in a long string of black “fan favorite” quarterbacks going back to the early 80s. Pat Washington, Reggie Slack, Dameyune Craig, Jason Campbell and now Kodi — Campbell, Craig, and Slack are arguably the three most popular quarterbacks in recent Auburn history.

(To his eternal credit, Thom defended Auburn, saying no, no, you know, it was hard everywhere, Paul.)

But it was Paul’s peculiar contrast of Thom’s experience as the second black football player at Auburn, (which began six years after Auburn integrated) to what must be his understanding of the Bama experience… in particular, to the famous spectacle surrounding the initial integration of the University of Alabama… to the Hug in the Schoolhouse Door, to all the funshine and rainbows filling Tuscaloosa in the early 60s… that really caught my attention:

“This is not a pretty story,” Finebaum says of Walk-On. “This is not, ‘hey, I walked in the door with the national guard and everyone embraced me…‘”

No football player in the state of Alabama, red or yellow, black or white, ever ‘walked in the door’ flanked by the national guard (any national guard action, and it was only at Alabama, would have been, oh, seven years prior). If they had, it wouldn’t have had anything to do with protecting them from fanmail or PDA.

So what the hell is he talking about? Whatever it is, taste it — it’s grain fed revisionism, of the sort only Bama fans can churn, and oh so similar to a certain strain — a fascinating phenomenon of Bryantism — that kept popping up during my research for Walk-On … but more on that later.

Just know, for now, that if you’ve ever felt paranoid for thinking that Paul would rip out a kidney and slap it on the table for the University of Alabama.. don’t.

Because when Finebaum writes:

For long-time chroniclers of college football, it has been agonizing to witness the devestation of the Alabama dynasty – once among the proudest in the lore of the sport.

… he is first and foremost writing about himself. And he would do anything in the world to end that agony… fantasize about institutional racism at Auburn, bend over for Dr. Saban… anything to maybe, just maybe, help, one day, take the edge off…

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Well, I’ll tell ya’ Eee-Lah…

After a game, I huff as fast as I can up Bragg Ave. to get to my car — I park at the end of Sanders Street. I open the door and jam the key in and crank it up and find the station — I do that even before the cigar. I mean, I’ll get the Auburn stats and the locker room “you know, I mean, we just came out to play” quotes later. What I won’t get later is the comically mouth-dropping, love-to-hate-it drivel of Eee-Lah and Snake. You can’t relive that stuff on the internet, that’s in the moment, and it’s my second favorite part of football Saturdays, seriously.

And it’s art! I mean, I’ve heard Kenny Stabler say, in that full-tilt crazy-haired twang, and in all seriousness, that everyone knows that rain always helps the visiting team. It was like, fifteen years ago or something, I was in the car as a kid listening, hoping they’d lose, and they were on their way early in the first quarter, to Mississippi State I think. It was a home game and it was barely sprinkling and that’s what ol’ Snake Stabler said to explain it — rain helps the visiting team, everyone knows that! And oh man, did anyone hear when Joe Namath popped in the booth for a few hours during last year’s Tennessee broadcast? A-R-T.

So while I feel for the citizenry of south Alabama, I’m thankful that keeping Snake as co-pilot is now the fashionable thing. Early on though, it wasn’t. When it was hot off the press, Finebaum was pouring it on like nothing I’ve ever heard from him. It was actually really funny, but it was harsh. For reasons both of ego and it’s-the-right-thing decency, he was trying to set the tone for what Bama administrators would have to respond to. He was gone, fired, finished! And he probably would have been had Paul not suddenly changed his tune. Ah, but thank goodness Paul’s leg tingleth still for Saban, who’s resounding endorsement of Stabler – “he’s a great ambassador for the University” – he quoted in his latest column, a column unbelievingly, flip-floppingly headlined “Crimson Tide should stand by Stabler.”

…’cause three DUI’s be damned — I don’t want to lose my tradition and it’s looking like Bama doesn’t want to lose theirs. Finebaum obviously doesn’t want to lose his, either.

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Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers – 2.28.08

*** Auburn Fight Song too holy for video games: According to Harris Sewell Worley, the reason Auburn’s fight song is not heard in the NCAA Football franchise video games is because his great grandmother, who owns partial rights, deems the medium unworthy of it’s greatness (Worley’s grandfather, Roy B. Sewell, Auburn man extraordinaire, commissioned the song back in the ’50s. He was an awesome guy.) Hell yeah it is! Let other schools pimp their heritage if they want, I’m glad we’re keeping it real. War Eagle, Mrs. Sewell, fight the power. And domo arigoto, you EA Sports soul suckers – Aubie might be on the cover, but the fight song stays in our hearts.

My favorite line: “… and we all look forward to… singin’ the fight song next season.”

Real quick – I totally dig the song — the tune, the lyrics — but click here and scroll to the bottom to check out the scalding review, upon its debut, by the Montgomery Advertiser, which is awesome just for revealing the esteem in which they hold “one of the supreme bellows of our time.”

*** Two days ago, I spent the afternoon in the parking lot of Montgomery’s sole (from what I can tell) Panera Bread. I could not connect to their WiFi for some reason. So I read a bit and listened to Finebaum, which came on only a few minutes after Nick Saban, in a press conference, addressed, among other things, questions about whether his football teams at Alabama can ever be more than goon squads. Of course, Finebaum played clips, and the good thing is, he played them early in the show and often. Go here and listen. No really, just listen, just for a little bit, even just to the first one (but if you listen to the whole thing, you’ll get to the Tuscaloosa-cops-are-all Auburn-fans theory). Because just when you think that the man is going to get it together, step up, do something decent, act in his self-interest by playing the game and saying the things that need to be said and act like a human being… just when you think the ride is about to over, Saban busts up into a press conference and shoots up the joint. I knew Saban would be the kinda person we should all want at the helm over there, but… and I feel… strange… in saying this, but as an Auburn fan, even I am beginning to feel bad, genuinely bad for the guy. Not for the treatment he receives — it’s just that he, Nick Saban, seems so completely incapable to handle his current situation in life. That is sad to watch or listen to.

“Buried the Myth…”

Check out the latest from Kevin Scarbinsky, who only the day before gave his column to Saban for him to look tough but compassionate… lets just say I doubt Kevin will be getting any more exclusives for a while…

*** This is why we dig Phillip Marshall. Like the Auburner, I’m impressed with Tony Franklin’s candor in discussing Chris Todd’s struggles to regain form, and the consequent implications that, despite appearances and fan chatter, Franklin’s preexisting relationship with Todd will not determine who our starting quarterback will be. I didn’t want to mention it at the time, as I know little about the mechanics of such things beyond a fan’s immediate impressions (and also because I’d heard somewhere that out of the four guys out there he had graded the highest in some category), but Todd, to me, definitely looked hesitant on the first day of practice, and threw the ball very softly. If he threw better as an 8th grader than he does now, yeah, than there’s definitely a problem. But then again, if he was that good as an 8th grader, I hope there’s a quick fix to all this.

I’m also impressed with the urgent need to score Tristan Davis some freaking steel toe cleats. Or Lord, have the next person to step on his toe runnin’ laps or something. I mean, I’d care no matter what, but I was there for that first touchdown, I saw it in person, or I tried to see it. I don’t remember who it was, I don’t remember when, all I remember is the flash. I can’t get it out of my mind. Didn’t he have like, an 80 yard per carry average for a few weeks?

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Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers – 2.11.08

*** Top 10 Reasons It’s Awesome at Auburn Basketball games:

10) Easy spotting of Auburn luminaries.

9) You can walk on the court after the game as long as you look official / really tall.

8 ) You can pretty much sit wherever you want.

7) Aubie lets loose in ways he can’t at football games, e.g. sliding ten feet on the floor to bowl through the Tiger Paws, whom he harasses all night.

6) Kid friendly, free stuff everywhere.

5) Trough-style urinals still in full-effect.

4) Great timeout and halftime entertainment – Saturday night it was a world-renowned hypnotist and I think he really did something to those kids, cause, oh, man, the girl in the orange shirt (Indian perhaps?) who was told she was a Pussycat Doll, man, I am so in love. Anyone YouTube that? Photos?

3) 17 players… 172 fingers.

2) Frank Tolbert’s indignant “come-on-ref!” hand-jives when he’s really pumped up…

1) Up by 20 or down by 20, Auburn Spirit and the fight, the passion of youth floods the court every dang game, and that more than anything makes it worth whatever the market-driven ticket pricers, who’s judgments seem based purely on anticipated demand, ask. (I was given free tickets, right at the door, to the first two games I went to; there was a sign saying “$10 bucks” at the Presbyterian game, but the old man only asked for $5, the girl next to him look puzzled; Kentucky was $20, Miss. State $15, an adventure every time!)

War Damn Eagle.

*** In his latest column, commemorating Alabama’s 1,001st National Championship, Paul Finebaum is in classic form, returning as he does to what he knows best: Sabanphilia, fetishistic insistence that Tommy Tuberville’s doesn’t care about Auburn, and sadistic, repeated analysis of Tuberville’s annual hunting trip to Arkansas, which Paul now not only credits with costing Tuberville his credibility with Auburn fans (because he should have been back home fighting the rumor Finebaum himself started about his undeniable, completely right and natural interest in the Arkansas job) but with costing Auburn recruiting glories a la Bama.

I knew it wasn’t the spread, Enrique, but you could have just told us — it was the hunting trip.

*** The 1984 Florida State game. Watch the video, it’s totally worth the 9 minutes. This “wild and woolly shootout in Doak Campbell Stadium” game was not, for some reason, televised, a fact to which Jim Fyffe in part credited his early popularity – people were so dependent upon him to color for them what turned out to, really, be an insane game, that the affection that might have taken a few more years to really set in was established and solidified in just one night. And color it he did – indeed, his call of the final touchdown is possibly my favorite ever, though the audio here does it little justice. However, Workcake’s soundtrack for the video as a whole is great. Also, you’ve gotta love Dye’s nonchalant Fonzy-styled celebration… and man, Fullwood (Bo was hurt), and Freddy Freakin’ Weygand… beautiful.

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Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers – 1.29.08

*** I don’t know how in the world I missed AuburnElvis.com — I’ve seen Auburn Elvis at the games a few times (just look for the crowd of girls and the digicams) and can now enjoy tales of his exploits.

auburn-elvis.jpg

*** While typing up a little catharsis of my own a few weeks back, I only briefly pondered the synergy between Finebaum and EDSBS, the partiality and singular deference mutually accorded by these media masterminds, one for the other. I knew the photo of Spurrier in the header didn’t hurt on the Finebaum end, but I mostly chalked it up at the time as simply being friend-of-a-friends through Warren St. John… and that obviously plays a big part, but Orson’s wistful Bear Bryant-themed memoir hints at a related but much deeper connection…

And while Finebaum is in the air, does anyone know if I-Man laid into him yesterday about his encounter with Elizabeth Gottfried? Something tells me the name Tommy Wilcox will never more be spoken…

*** I can’t be sure about this, but if Williamson High School’s (Mobile) DE Terrence Coleman were to commit to Auburn come next year – and according to AuburnSports.com there’s mutual interest there – I think it would be the first instance in Auburn football history of a player having his uncle for a teammate. Coleman is the nephew of Auburn’s awesome defensive end Antonio Coleman, and he’s supposed to be good. Terrence would be a freshman, Antonio a senior. Uncle! Fumble!

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Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers – 1.28.08

*** Saban and Shula almost bump into each other. Shula would drop him like 4 million bricks.

*** And Lord, speaking of confrontations, word on the street is that Paul Finebaum was tongue-lashed by Elizabeth Gottfried, wife of Alabama basketball coach Mark Gottfried, at the Auburn-Alabama game Saturday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum, probably just as Kenny Smith (and his Yankee) and I sat down at Homewood’s new Little Auburn aka Mama Goldberg’s.

My favorite rumored slice of the exchange is Elizabeth’s “we have 5 kids, we have 5 kids!”

That’s a fine way to celebrate Bear Bryant’s Deathiversary…

deathiversary.jpg

Saturday night interstate up in Birmingham, Birmingham, War Damn Eagle-Ham. (r/t/y/j/k/a/j/f/ Kenny Smith)

*** Chef John Hamme of Ariccia, the swank restaurant in the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center, was recently featured on an episode of the Food Network Challenge. Hamme prepared “Pancetta Wrapped Bayou La Batre Shrimp with Rikards Mill Yellow Corn Grits and Grilled Heirloom Tomatoes” for “The Great American Seafood Cook-Off II.” Hamme and Co.’s Warm Tomato Tart was named “Official Dish of the Year of Alabama Food Winner” by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel in 2005. Represent, Represent!

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Toomer’s Rumors and Boomers – 1.27.08

bearbryantcover.jpg*** It seems so very appropriate that, on the 25th anniversary of Bear Bryant’s death, Alabama would beat Auburn…

… in basketball.

Speaking of, nobody guessed the right answer to my Bear Bryant Deathiversary Trivia Question. By that, I mean that nobody even ventured a guess. Thanks for the memories! But going on the assumption that people really do want to know, but were intimidated to silence by such an academic hurdle, I will go ahead and spill:

The two blue-chip recruits that committed to Auburn on Jan. 26, 1983 are Jeff Burger and Brent Fullwood, two of my favorites.

*** From an article published yesterday in the Kansas City Star:

“They could hear the sound for blocks, the sound of Dennis Franchione being fed to the wood chipper. Nearly a thousand Alabama fans gathered in Tuscaloosa in December 2002 and spent a Friday afternoon throwing anything with Franchione’s name or face on it into a machine that turns timber into dust.

They called it therapy. Eight days earlier, Franchione had left Tuscaloosa on the Texas A&M jet and never looked back. The man who was called a coaching genius and a savior of programs had made promises. They had trusted him.

When the wood chipper was not violent enough, the group started a fire and fed it more Franchione memorabilia. Bobble-head dolls sizzled and popped. Photographs curled and turned black and disappeared into the glow. The crowd circled the fire, dancing and cheering.

“The guy was a liar and traitor,” remembers local columnist Paul Finebaum, who has covered sports in Alabama for 25 years…”

But Paul, so is Nick Saban. In fact, people used those exact words to describe him just a year ago. You mean you feel that way about Francione because he lied and betrayed Alabama

Speaking of Finebaum, it must’ve been rough on him yesterday. In his latest, blindingly ironic column, Paul neatly excuses the past 25 years of Bama ball with one of his own quotes from “The Last Coach”: it was ordained in a no-mountain-without-valley sorta way. He argues that Alabama fans don’t live in the past, they remember excellence. He ends the column by claiming that Alabama, because of Saban, can finally look forward to good times… and then essentially denies the possibility that excellence can ever return, because “there was only one Bear Bryant.”

But before that: “The question has been hotly debated over many years in relation to whether Alabama can ever escape the long shadow of Bryant. The question ought to be why would Alabama want to.”

I think you just answered that question, Paul… flame on…

*** Even with the good news that Auburn is back in the thick of things with Enrique Davis, peculiarities still surround his reasons for de-committing, which were supposedly centered around Fear of a Spread Eagle. And yet apparently Oregon was being tossed around as a new contender for his loyalties even before Tony Franklin and Eddie Gran visited Davis last Wednesday. Not to belabor the point, but, again, as Ike pointed out, Oregon runs the hell out of the spread offense. Ducks running Jonathan Stewart ran for a team record 1,722 yards (more than 6 yards a carry and a 11 touchdowns), numbers bold enough for him to decide to forgo his senior season for the NFL draft. So was it the spread, or something else?

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