Category Archives: Auburn’s Cast of Thousands

The Auburn Way

Would it surprise you to learn this?

The new batch of data was unambiguous. Half of the students in one major were athletes. One in three black players on Auburn’s football team was enrolled in the program.

Rather than question how this might have happened, the university’s provost instead offered a plan: Create more programs like it.

“The following report points to the need for more majors that have enough elective courses etc.,” Timothy R. Boosinger, the provost at the time, wrote in the late winter of 2015 to G. Jay Gogue, who was then the president. So many athletes concentrated in one major — public administration — can attract controversy, and it did. Offering more programs with similarly flexible requirements would, Boosinger implied, solve the problem.

The provost assured the president that those other programs were in the works, and that he had met with Jay Jacobs, who was then the athletic director, “to discuss the new offerings that are in the pipeline.”

The email and other communications obtained by The Chronicle suggest an openness among Auburn’s academic leaders to tailor a curriculum for the specific benefit of athletes, privately discussing the creation of new majors that would best serve a small but high-profile segment of the student body. These discussions demonstrate the power of athletic interests at universities with big-time sports programs and the quiet ways in which they put pressure on the academic enterprise.

Nah, I didn’t think so.  Well, then, what about this?

The athletics department’s interest in public administration was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in 2015. Faculty committees had voted to discontinue the program after its centrality to the department’s educational mission was questioned. But Auburn kept the major after a lobbying effort from athletics officials, who at one point offered money to keep it afloat.

Okay, no surprise there.

Auburn officials say that no money came from athletics.

Hmm.

And the punchline…

In response to questions from The Chronicle, the university said that the athletics department does not unduly influence curricular decisions.

“The shared governance system at Auburn serves as a type of internal watchdog, guarding against the very type of situation at the center of your questioning,” C. Michael Clardy, a university spokesman, wrote in an email. “We as an institution are committed to the integrity and rigor of our academic programs.”

Well, that’s a relief.

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43 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., Auburn's Cast of Thousands

The new recruiting sheriff’s in town, part one

Over at al.com, they’ve noted the recruiting off-years at the two big in state programs and are looking for some answers.

By anybody’s standards but their own, Alabama and Auburn both reeled in excellent recruiting classes this year.

The Crimson Tide brought in a 19-man class (its smallest since the probation days) that ranked No. 7 nationally and second in the SEC. The Tigers landed a 24-man class that ranked No. 12 nationally and third in the SEC.

But it was definitely a fall-off from recent years.

Alabama’s streak of seven straight No. 1 classes ended, while its overall ranking was its lowest since 2007. That was Nick Saban’s first year, when he and his staff had only a month to put together a class.

Auburn’s No. 12 finish was its first outside the Top 10 in Gus Malzahn’s tenure, and its lowest since finishing No. 23 in 2009. That was Gene Chizik’s first year, after the turmoil of Tommy Tuberville’s resignation and Chizik’s controversial hire.

So how did this happen?

Here’s answer number one:

1. Kirby Smart has built a recruiting machine at Georgia: The Bulldogs signed the country’s No. 1 class, with seven 5-star prospects, 14 4-stars and seven of the country’s Top 23 players.  Smart’s success at locking down his state has especially hurt Auburn, which has long had a history of pilfering top players from the state of Georgia (think Carl Lawson, Phillip Lutzenkirchen and Carlos Rogers, to name three). But he also beat Alabama head-to-head on at least two Top 50 players this year: Georgia linebacker Quay Walker and Florida cornerback Tyson Campbell.

Speaking of Auburn, does anyone know where Rodney Garner’s spending his time on the recruiting trail these days?  He sure had a quiet time in his old stomping grounds this past year.

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Filed under Alabama, Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, Recruiting

Job security

I have a simple question.

How bad would Auburn have to be this season for Malzahn to be fired on December 1st without cause?  Honestly, I’m not sure I can come up with an adequate scenario.

Who in their right mind obligates themselves to that kind of money for a football coach?

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, It's Just Bidness

You can never go wrong blaming Auburn.

The reaction of Alabama’s players to the “Central Florida national champs” cheeky narrative is about what you’d expect

… but I do love this one, for obvious reasons.

Hmmm… maybe Gus tanked it on purpose.

31 Comments

Filed under Alabama, Auburn's Cast of Thousands, BCS/Playoffs, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

“He’s a first-round talent, so that’s on him.”

If Carlton Davis had only known Auburn was playing in a national title game, he would have suited up for the Peach Bowl.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

“I’m still a trust guy.”

Per Auburn’s prez, more than half of the money in Gus Malzahn’s new contract is guaranteed, which means that the buyout figure is at least $24.5 million.

AL.com reports that it’s way more than half the money.

AL.com has learned that 75 percent of the money in the contract is guaranteed, and while there are a few minor details to be worked out, that percentage is not still in negotiation. Like all the major details, it’s been agreed upon by both sides.

In other words, should Auburn fire Malzahn at some point in the next seven years for losing too many games, it would owe him 75 percent of the remaining value of the contract.

For example, if he were let go with three years and $21 million left on the deal, Auburn would owe him 75 percent of that amount or $15.75 million. That’s an approximation because the contract isn’t structured as a flat $7 million a year but as a graduated amount. The average is $7 million a year over seven years.

In addition, AL.com has learned there is no offset or mitigation language in the contract. That means the amount of money Auburn would owe Malzahn should it dismiss him would not be reduced by any salary he would make at his next job.

Holy shit, Batman.  And this for a guy who has to get past Alabama, LSU and Georgia every year just to make it to the SECCG.

That’s some trust, brother.

21 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, It's Just Bidness

Too cool for school

Really, this is too precious.

“Really cool”?  When’s the last time anyone thought PAWWWLLL was cool?

16 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football