Tag Archives: Tony Franklin

Everything’s Bigger in Texas, I think I made a Big Mistake.

The ironies of the UnSeason continue to pile up like unpaid bills. At least the personal ironies, for me. It started in August. I get a new job and find out I’m moving. I was going to have a press pass for this season! I could have been on the field! But no… moving… to the town of the spread happy “it’s our season” team coached by the ol’ Jedi buddy of Tony Franklin, who’s presence at Auburn was supposed to make it our season, too. Oh, and the two teams were picked to pack the Sugar Bowl together, of course, of course, by the same guy who’d just finished gushing over what an eccentric, offensive genius said Jedi buddy used to be.

Can’t you feel it?

And then the actual move, from Auburn to L-word, Texas: my fake-spread Auburn falls apart, their real-spread T. Tech is undefeated and gunning for a national championship and apparently about to play their first game on TV from the way folks around the office are acting. I knew my faith was powerful — just starting an Auburn pride band in 2004 was enough to 13 and 0 us — I just didn’t know the mojo was dependent on my actual, physical presence. Oh, and need I remind anyone that the going theory behind the Tiger’s collapse includes Tony Franklin’s suspected (by some) blinding bromance with a supposedly spread-able former Red Raider?

I’m sorry, y’all. I had no idea this would happen.

And thanks to an e-mail from Kenny last night, it dawns on me – the vomitous-but-perhaps-perfectly-suited-for-an-Iron-Bowl-crane-kick implications of a T. Tech victory over the Longhorns:

Bama almost certainly moves to #1.

Father, give me strength.

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Graveyard for Offensive Dreams?

By J.M. Comer

Pinehill Cemetery in Auburn.
Pinehill Cemetery in Auburn.

While it seems that since the days of Coach Pat Day, Auburn University has been a great springboard for defensive-minded coaches to further their career, the exact opposite can be said for the coaches with experience on the offensive side of the ball.

And after what happened yesterday (Tiger Jack on Auburn.nu called the scene of Tony Franklin loading up his SUV after this dismissal in front of the cameras “Spread Man Walking,” which is brilliant) I don’t see the decline of offensive brain trust at Auburn changing soon. Who in their right mind would accept the job, knowing that a band of jackals (or worse yet, complete dumbasses) possibly lay in wait, ready to sabotage their best efforts to change things, rattle the ol’ cage a bit and bring in some fresh air to the offensive side of the ball? A fool would accept this job under the current terms.

Al Borges, God bless him, could have probably grabbed a good job elsewhere after the 2004 season if he struck while the iron was hot. But the guy probably thought that the money was right, Auburn was a great place to live and raise a family, the future was bright and there was unfinished business on the Plains.

But just take a look at the list of offensive-minded coaches and what happened after they were let go at Auburn University. Some escape with their careers intact. Some are not so lucky, seeing their coaching stock drop considerably:

Head Coach Terry Bowden — Fired at Auburn 10 years ago after 6 games into the 1998 season and is no longer coaching. According to Wikipedia: “Bowden is the expert analyst for Westwood One Radio’s College Football National Game of Week, co-hosts “The Coaches Show” on Sirius Satellite Radio with Jack Arute, is the exclusive college football columnist for Yahoo! Sports, and works several times a month as a motivational speaker.”

Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone — Head Coach Tommy Tuberville cuts Mazzone loose in 2001 and replaces him with Bobby Petrino. Mazzone came over with Tuberville from Ole Miss in 1999. Mazzone grabs a job in 2002 with Oregon State. According to Wikipedia again: “In 2006, Mazzone finally moved to the NFL, becoming receivers coach for New York Jets.”

Offensive Coordinator Bobby Petrino — The exception to the rule. Leaves Auburn in 2002 on his own terms for head coaching job at University of Louisville. Almost takes over Auburn’s program in 2003 with Jetgate coup. Currently head coach of Arkansas University.

Al Borges — Currently unemployed after “resignation” in 2007. Lives in Auburn.

Tony Franklin — As of yesterday, unemployed. You know the story.

Next up for the chopping block?

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Did Someone Punch My Spirit?

By J.M. Comer

… Because it sure feels like it.

Just a couple of quick thoughts as I retire for this evening’s uneasy slumber.

The firing of maligned (rightly or not) Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin does not sit well with me.

Why was he kicked to the curb right in front of reporters and cameras in the middle of the day, like a man walking to the gallows? Is this the best way that it could have been handled? Firing the guy just in time for Paul Finebaum to report it as breaking news on his afternoon show? I can just imagine what that hairless asshole had to say today about this sorry scene today. It’s like we handed the story to Finebaum on a silver platter.

Why did Auburn University do this to Franklin in such a public and embarrassing manner? Good God! What an idiotic, childish way to handle this. Why wasn’t he given the pink slip Sunday night?

There are so many questions that need answers.

Why the glee from some of my fellow Auburn fans? This is not a time to be dancing in the streets. This hurts and is embarrassing. Tony Franklin was in over his head and it seems that no love is lost. But I don’t think he burned down anyone’s house. He didn’t destroy your 401(k).

He was brought in and did a job poorly. But although we suffered through losses to Vanderbilt and LSU that bruised our pride and the lack of any offense in our hollow wins hurt, this is much, much worse in my eyes.

God, I feel for our football players and recruits. What are they thinking about right now? Relief? Dread? Confusion?

I feel that we need, as Auburn fans, to keep the lines of communication open as we struggle to figure out where this season, this football team, our beloved university are all headed.

For now, let’s dig down deep and think about what it means to be an Auburn Tiger football fan. And hope for brighter days ahead.

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Thoughts from the West Texas observatory (and Shreveport)- Vandy

It was the first I’d actually watch watched with my Dad in a long time and it was in the lobby of the Shreveport Holiday Inn Express. I didn’t make it in time for the first quarter. Dad went Jim Fyffe for me on the phone. The opening drive, it was glorious. And fun. And powerfully Auburn. Dad was having fun, I was having fun letting him have fun, I was playing Stan White, color-commentating off Dad’s reports, I do good impressions. My wife rolled her eyes, but she was having fun. The glorious kid was having fun. I stepped on the gas. We were back in the technically south, just crossed into Louisiana, humidity, pine trees, hallelujah. Let’s get some food and enjoy this last night together, War Eagle, baby. Then my ear went wet with bile – they stopped us on the one. Wetter still when Foot Lauderdale broke up with me after the Fannin TD. Ominous. Gloominous. We stopped them on the one on their last drive in ’93? They stopped us on the one on our first drive 15 years later? 13 to nothing? Friends, I knew we were in trouble.

You will never find a more optimistic Auburn fan than the me that I am. The glass is half-full when there is no damn glass. The glass has been shattered by my Jericholoosa-tuned trumpet. On my faith alone, the Auburn Guard marcheth into the orgasm of hail-mary immortality.

And so it was with fear that I diagrammed the new feeling that logged into me as Vandy’s final punt was downed on the whatever. And it was with loathing that I named it “doubt.”

I mean, I pushed. I strained. I wanted it. I wanted to believe. But I looked into my Dad’s eyes and they said no. They said ‘are you kidding?’ They said, ‘backed up on our goal line? This team? It’s over.’

He was right. And it seemed, please Lord, help me understand, fated. The mugshot of their backup? He looked like a decent person – the perfect anti-example to Hattiesburg Macaulay, who I knew we’d beat – and I hate playing against decent people.

Before the game, I tried hard to ignore the potential irony of watching it in Shreveport. Knock on wood. Afterward, I was overwhelmed by the irony of my thinking that watching it in Shreveport was ever ironic. Because not even the Petro-Sun would want a team so tragic.

Given the context, the loss – the disease – we saw Saturday night was possibly the most debilitating in recent Auburn history. It was shockingly upsetting. Even in our palsied unsubstantiality, we, Auburn, the eternal Davids of the echoing green, were cast by ESPN as a greedy, corporate Goliath coming to rape and pollute the recovery of poor, populist, once-comatose Vandy. And per Bristol talking points, the Commodores went green on our ass – to the tune of a single extra-point off the uprights. Everyone clapped and signed the petition and felt good about themselves at our expense.

My post-loss habits typically involve a deep breath, a shake of the head, another deep breath, a stretch, and a moving on. Upon the interception, it was head to hands, face down, glasses off. I didn’t feel a lump in my throat but I thought, for the splittest second, I might. It wasn’t because it was a loss. It wasn’t because it was to a lesser team. It wasn’t because it was to Vandy, Saturday night’s bizarro-Auburn… (I mean they threw, they ran, the black quarterback takes himself out of the game for the white hero hurdler to come in and save the day. Freaky)…

It was because, like you, I’d never seen us look so bad.

You can tell I’m struggling here. It’s taken till Wednesday to get around to this. And it’s not very good. I think I could have taken the entire week off, actually. There’s the pain, but there’s also the endless maze of theories and attitudes to process, to approve, and I just don’t have the time. (Chris Shelling Jr.’s is drugs – drugs and Franklin. “He’s just disheveled. Have you seen that hair?” No, I said, he’s just laid back, such a nice guy, I mean, that one time I met him in practice, he so took his time with me, you know? He would have gone to Mellow Mushroom with me or something, you know? Spent the whole day with me. “Yeah, and that day probably would have ended in Meth.”)

Personally, I think that for whatever sad, unintended reasons, it has something very much to do with the scenario divined by the refreshingly unpretentious brain trust behind Smart Football, one already linked into orbit by better and more diligent bloggers than me … (superb, Jerry…)

At least the fallout has dampened the kindling of our quarterback fire – noticeably absent in The Wake, at least to me, at least in the blAUgosphere, is the premature apotheosis of Burns and the Todd-aimed bitching – but our coaches seem to be tapping dysfunction straight from the vein.

Despite Tuberville’s makes-sense insistence that the spread could beat back the pimps of Sabanism come signing day, the offensive woes of 2008 seem almost karmic, a seek-ye-first punishment for what we all (not so) secretly feared to be a season-too-soon bailing on Borges. Meanwhile, nice guy Al roams our nostalgia in Auburn pajamas, probably just as crushed as we are.

My one comfort since the drive back through the martian crags of West Texas has been to isolate and objectiy the pain, philosophic like, for what it is. Doing so brings visions: six points to LSU, one point to Vandy. A touchdown… we’re a touchdown away from 6-0… a touchdown away from 6-0 playing like this. And yet we’re in a new strain of apocalypse… it’s fascinating… it’s 2004.

I’ve got to wind things down.

The Arkansas game promises to be epic in the narrative of the Auburn Oh-Thousands. I hope we destroy them, leave none alive.

May the ravens that feed us in this time of crisis unveil a 7th bloated corpse on the 29th of Novemeber.

2nd Corinthians 12:10.

God be with you. War Eagle. Believe.

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Sunday sanctuary sans spread struggles

By J.M. Comer

I’m afraid to commit my thoughts to words, regarding our 2008 Auburn Tigers as this season crawls along. I’m sure it would be a lot like peering into your Kleenex tissue after a sneeze — sure you made it, and it feels good after it is done, but it’s not a pretty sight.

I will say this: 2008 has not been “fun time” for me so far, even with one loss after five games. The only game I have enjoyed watching was our loss. Huh? How is that possible?

How can you brag about Auburn with a straight face at this point in the season?

And how is it that ESPN’s Gameday keeps following us around? (Next stop: Nashville?!?!?)

But I’ve found an escape. An immediate escape to my worried Saturday brow, my gnashing of teeth.

I spend my Sundays with J.C. and his crew. (And it isn’t Jesus Christ and his entourage of 12. Count me among the ranks of the Sunday mid-morning couch heathens.)

The Washington Redskins are winning big games and our Auburn alum are looking great. (And I apologize to those Auburn fans that love the Dallas Cowgirls. This observation probably won’t help you much … you blue-and-silver-T.O.-enabling-cow-pie-kickin’-hole-in-your-stadium losers. Also … HA! HA! HA! *deep breath* AhhhhhhhhHA! HA! HAAAAA!)

Redskins QB Jason Campbell is standing tall in the pocket and throwing laser beams to a wide assortment of weapons zig-zagging across the field.

And he took out the Dallas Cowboys and looked fantastic doing it. But Jason hasn’t had an easy time getting to this point. He has been maligned by Redskins fans after the loss to the New York Giants in the first game of the season. But Jason and his teammates have made slow progress … step by step … to a point where they can overcome obstacles like knocking off an undefeated, cocky Dallas team this past Sunday.

The Redskins are building off their progress. Growing as a team. Trusting one another.

On the defensive side, it appears that fellow Auburn alum Carlos Rogers is coming along as a force in the secondary. Finally. He led the team in tackles and had two big swats (I acknowledge they were close to interference. Close. But. Not. Interference.) covering WR Terrell Owens this past Sunday.

Sometimes … *sigh* … sometimes a coach comes right in and fills a vacuum and connects with his players. And gets his point across and communicates well. His system is solid and he brims with confidence.

(I’m attempting to draw a parallel here with the “offensive guru” and offensive coordinator of the Auburn Tigers, Tony Franklin, and ex-quarterbacks coach of the Seattle Seahawks, now head coach of the Redskins, Jim Zorn. If you can stomach it, please stay with me here.)

Jim Zorn is doing just what I described earlier with the ‘Skins. He seems, at this point, to be aggressive in his call playing. He focuses on finishing games well. He drills his methods (sometimes odd methods) into his players. His players have bought into his philosophy. And Zorn has total trust in the abilities of his athletes (especially Jason Campbell) and has opened up the playbook.

Two points separated Dallas and Washington at the end of the game Sunday. Two points separated Auburn and Tennessee on Saturday.

Jason Campbell and the Redskins are playing to win.

Our Auburn Tigers are playing not to lose.

And that’s just gross. And wrong. And not fun to watch. And probably not fun to play. Or fun to coach for that matter.

I can’t seem to remember the last time I’ve heard a Tiger gushing about Tony Franklin. Maybe I’m not paying enough attention.

I thought Franklin was a teacher and certified salesman of the spread or something. Right now, it’s like the bull is the proprietor of the china and rug shop:

“Welcome to The Big Steer’s China Shoppe! What can I help you with? I see that this vase has caught your attention madam … oh sorry about that. I walked right into that case of rare Star Trek collectible plates I was trying to sell. And it looks like I’ve destroyed another Persian rug with a big ol’ No. 2. *Sigh* Sometimes I regret leaving Wall Street for this place.)

So, for now, I’m getting my football enjoyment, my workweek escape, through the NFL’s Redskins and not the SEC’s True Tigers. And I never, ever thought I’d say that.

Our Auburn Tigers need something to build on. Some feather to put in their hat. Last year, that stepping stone was the win against Vanderbilt at Jordan-Hare. Let’s hope like hell that this Saturday, against a #19 ranked Vanderbilt Commodore team, with the nation watching (I can’t believe it either) that this team can find a way to improve, learn and trust each other.

I’d suggest looking to J.C. for your inspiration.

POST-PUBLICATION ADD ON:

I just remembered an e-mail that I got last week from Ike, a reader and friend of TWER. Thought you might enjoy this:

On Sunday [Sept. 21, after the LSU game], rather than watching Falcons or Tampa Bay, I went to Buffalo Wild Wings in Auburn to watch the ‘Skins game. They had it up on one TV, and the only other folks watching the ‘Skins game were Al Borges and his little boy. We were all rooting on Campbell. He’s a super nice guy. He was still dressed up in an Auburn sweatshirt and his boy had on an Auburn shirt too.

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Thoughts from the West Texas observatory – Tennessee

My little stories behind my story of the game suck compared to this but whatever, here we go.

It was a strange week. I couldn’t blog much. I was busy. Doing strange things. I was in Lubbock, Texas writing about a Gin Blossoms concert at a fair. I could feel the lack of killer instinct from here. The text messages were few. (The best one came from Kate: “A bum and a crack addict just yelled ‘roll tide’ at me.”) The Letdown loomed.

The moment was ripe against LSU – ESPN, moonlight – and blood poured from the throat of Jordan-Hare. And we came up short. Against Tennessee, “murmurs” where whipped into a soft, effeminate puss. And we came out on top.

I’ll take 14-12 any day. I’ll take 3-2 any day. And I’ll be proud for this reason: it’s great to be an Auburn Tiger. But I’ll also be proud because we win when look so terrible. You can moan and cuss all you want — and yesterday, yeah, in the second half, I did a little bit, under my breath — but that says something about a team and it says something about that team’s coach.

We are freaking 4-1. But here’s the thing, boo birds: we should be 5-0. We’ve beaten Mississippi St., we should have beaten LSU, we’ve beaten Tennessee. Some Auburn fans say we can’t win in this SEC playing like this when we’ve won in the SEC playing like this for four years. Some Auburn fans continue to act as if we’ve lost three games.

To this I say: Katharine Hepburn never thought she was pretty.

Hepburn’s “Bringing up Baby” is one of my all-time favorite movies. I had it memorized as a young child – my mom would make me perform for guests. But it is a line from her much better known “Philadelphia Story” that comes to mind on this, the fifth Sunday of the Tony Franklin death watch:

“The time to make your mind up about people is never!”

Or at least not five weeks into a season.

It’s like this – the advertised advantage of Franklin’s version of the spread was the tempo, or so it seemed to me. The meer cat, super-quick, 300 plays a game speed. Not quantity over quality, but we were supposed to wear down defenses, we would score in the second and fourth quarters (on Saturday, did we even get 20 yards in the 4th quarter?) And yet our no huddle is no threat.

I’m not going to look at the statistics because I don’t need to. We’re not really any faster, we just can’t be. And since we haven’t been, I’ve expected compensation in other areas. Mixing it up. Trick plays. Reverses. Even the wheel routes of old. Burns and Todd in on the same play. Anything. But I haven’t. There was the snowed under whatever-it-was pass attempt by Robert Dunn (and while we’re at it, what I finally realized I like about Dunn is that he brings a certain badass swagger that is needed even on a team built around the Beatitudes. The Irons brothers had it, but Dunn’s seems more ‘thank-God-he’s-on-our-side’) and at least Fannin touched the ball a little bit… (to be honest, I’d be hiking it to him every first down)…

And so even I, eternal optimist of the Auburn night, will admit it, hands up in the air: I’m confused. We signed up for hi-speed, for WiFi, and we can barely check our e-mail. We wanted Ricky the Dragon and we see Ricky the Martin. And though our defense will keep us in every game we play, a point of seizure awaits this Auburn offense in every game, springing randomly, and once it does, it’s all we can do to feed ourselves. At the sight of the game-saving barely-first down, the family claps and takes pictures. Yes, ma’am, it’s painful to watch.

Still, the prevailing idea that we’re actually handicapped is crap.

Maybe it’s just the kind of fan I am, but I trust the man implicitly, in part because Tuberville still seems to, yes, but also because Tony Franklin exudes a sort of Margaritaville nonchalance that purs potential, just-wait-for-it, holy-crap-what-was-that Bobby Fischer potential.

He is the guy that actually speaks English on the customer service line, the guy that chats you up about football or music and then apologizes once he realizes the problem, “man, awww damn, there’s an outtage in your area, that sucks…” and then gives you a tip that something is coming, something big, you’re gonna want it, can I sign you up?

“Well, they should. If I was them, I’d boo. I’d boo me. I’d be angry. Everybody’s expectations were high. My expectations were high. If I was a paying fan I’d be upset. This product has not been good, and it was my product. I don’t blame them for being upset. I don’t take it personal. When they said how wonderful you were, I didn’t take that personal because I knew it wasn’t true. I said all along that I wasn’t very smart and y’all thought I was joking. Now you know. It’s pretty true.”

Good God in heaven — there is a Gizmo Duck waiting to be unleashed from that sort of humility! Can’t we all just concentrate and be positive and help him remember the word! And for crying out loud, it is not freaking “boo.” (It’s, say it with me, “War Eagle,” the greatest blatherinblatherskite in the history of college football!).

DO. NOT. BOO. Oh, it’s for the play calling? Hmmm, call me crazy but hating the sin but loving the sinner just doesn’t translate from the cheap seats. While I certainly think that Auburn players have enough brains to discern the object of disdain – an option read rather than the quarterback – do you really think that matters? OK, now the players know they’re about to go out and read a line that will offend half their “fans,” that’ll really build their confidence. I’d rather the stadium be half-empty than to hear one boo from someone in orange and blue. I think the players would agree with me.

More on everything else — Bammersbackism, quarterbacks, a sure to be scorching Thom Gossom column, etc… — later in the week, hopefully. Until then, War Damn Eagle, we’ll see you in hell, Commodores, ’93 style.

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For the conspiracy theorists…

Jimbo went snooping after practice yesterday. He found this (handmade) card inside Chris Todd’s locker. I didn’t want to believe it either.

By Jimbo

(with apologies to PowerOfDixieland at Track’em Tigers)

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