| FTBL Phillip Marshall's little "mail bag."

18Champs

Thread Starter
Century Club
Questions – asking them and answering them – are part of everyday life as a columnist or reporter. Here’s a look at some questions about subjects of interest, along with my answers on some and guesses on others.

Today, the focus is all on football. There are answers and guesses on recruiting, on incoming quarter TJ Finley, on the SEC’s latest decision. Go inside for those things and much more.

HOW MUCH DO THE POSITIVE COMMENTS OF FOOTBALL RECRUITS AFTER VISITS TO CAMPUS MEAN?

My answer: Not as much as fans would like and not as little as naysayers would have you believe. The main thing they mean is that Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin, his assistants and staff members have done a good job of impressing young men and their families. But it also must be remembered that pretty much every program does a good job of impressing young men and their families.

DOES TJ FINLEY HAVE A REAL SHOT AT BEATING OUT BO NIX?

My guess: It will be very difficult. Nix has been studying the new offense since January and has been through practice. Finley played in five games as a freshman at LSU with mixed results. Nix was SEC Freshman of the Year and has passed for 4957 yards in two seasons. Finley was promised a chance to compete, and I have no doubt he will get. But the odds are not in his favor.

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THE SEC’S DECISION TO ALLOW ONE-TIME INTRALEAGUE TRANSFERS WITHOUT PENALTY?

My answer: Very significant, but not the least bit surprising. The SEC had no choice. An interesting part of the decision was players who want to transfer within the league and be immediately eligible must make that known by Feb. 1 of each year. The NCAA policy’s date is May 1, but conferences are free to make their own rules about intraconference transfers. SEC players will have to make quick decisions. The Feb. 1 date will allow coaches to more efficiently manage their rosters.

WILL THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF EXPAND?

My answer: No question about it. The only question is what form it will take and when it will happen. It seems obvious that the easiest way to do it is to go to eight teams and play the first-round games on the home fields of the higher seeds. But college football decision-makers have long been really good at turning easy decisions into difficult ones.

IS TEXAS A&M POISED TO BECOME A POWER IN THE SEC WEST?

My guess: Maybe, but I am not convinced. The Aggies, with a standout senior quarterback, were really good last season. But that’s the only time they’ve been really good since 2012, despite going into numerous seasons highly ranked. They have been in the league since 2012 and have yet to play in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama, Auburn and LSU have made it multiple signs. One season isn’t enough for me to be convinced.

WILL LSU BOUNCE BACK FROM GOING 5-5 IN 2020?

My guess: Yes, but that bounce won’t be all that high. LSU has lots of talent, but it always does. With a completely revamped coaching staff, who knows what will happen. The team I saw lose 48-11 at Auburn didn’t look like one on the verge of competing for championships again.

WHAT IMPACT DID PAT DYE HAVE ON AUBURN FOOTBALL?

My answer: Dye left us four days more than year ago, but his impact remains. He never won a national championship, but he won half of Auburn’s eight SEC championships. He made Auburn people believe a miserable decade could be put behind them. That belief remains today in the high expectations every Auburn coach faces, and that’s a good thing.

WHY DID GUS MALZAHN STRUGGLE SO MUCH AGAINST GEORGIA?

My answer: It didn’t really start with Malzahn. It started in 2006 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Georgia had lost four games, one of them to Vanderbilt. Auburn had lost one and was ranked No. 5. Georgia won 38-15 and ran out the clock inside Auburn’s 3-yard line. Auburn didn’t beat Georgia again until 2010. It won again in 2013 and in one of two meetings in 2017. If you are adding it up, starting in 2006, Auburn is 3-13 against Georgia. Several of those Georgia teams weren’t very good. Perhaps most mystifying is the inability of Malzahn’s Auburn teams to score against Georgia on the road. In four games in Athens and one in Atlanta, Auburn scored 7, 7, 7, 10 and 6 points. My opinion is that Malzahn’s struggles against Georgia were the single biggest reason he lost his job. Doing something about that is one of the more important tasks facing Bryan Harsin.

IS THERE A PLAN FOR ENLARGING/RENOVATING JORDAN-HARE STADIUM?

My guess: Not at this point. Most of the focus, not surprisingly, is on the new football-only complex. As some warned at the outset, it is going to end up costing considerably more than early projections. Costs of building materials are out of sight. Could Auburn do both at once? It could, but with athletics director Allen Greene’s penchant for cutting costs (see bus rides and less expensive hotels) and a hesitant Board of Trustees, I don’t believe it is likely.

WHEN WILL AUBURN FOOTBALL CONTEND FOR CHAMPIONSHIPS AGAIN?

My answer: It could be any time. The unbeaten season in 1993 came after back-to-back non-winning seasons. The perfect season in 2004 came after a very disappointing 2003 season. The 2010 national championship season came after an 8-5 2009 season. The 2013 SEC championship came after the worst Auburn season in 60 years.
 

bamanc50

Sideline Club
Well it’s June and the barn doesn’t have Gus around anymore to talk about this year being a N.C. year and several players in the running for the Heisman. So they bring out PM to talk about it.
 

OldPlayer

Bama Club
Well it’s June and the barn doesn’t have Gus around anymore to talk about this year being a N.C. year and several players in the running for the Heisman. So they bring out PM to talk about it.
And Harsin hasn’t had to actually coach a game yet. Everything he’s done gets a positive spin. They have three patsies (Akron, Alabama State and Georgia State) and three real opponents (Penn State, LSU and Georgia) in their first six games.
 

mando

Sideline Club
And Harsin hasn’t had to actually coach a game yet. Everything he’s done gets a positive spin. They have three patsies (Akron, Alabama State and Georgia State) and three real opponents (Penn State, LSU and Georgia) in their first six games.
So you are saying they will be at best 3-3 after six games :)?
 

JoseyWalesTheOutlaw

Crimson Tide Club
The Barn Complex had to really be done with Guz for them to pay 40 million to get him and his staff gone. That is a big deal but the fact they selected Harsin and are paying him 5 million per year is even bigger.

The AD either hit the jackpot with his section or he is about to hit the road. The barn just can't to fall further behind in the West.
 

Brandon Van de Graaff

A defensive deity, inventor of the Concussion.
Ivory Club
All for them losing every athletic contest from now on. One thing I have learned over the years, don’t count them out. Somehow they seem to come back from near death. Maybe different now since PD gone, we’ll see.

This has been their worst year (fall/spring) across the athletic department board in a LONG time, and it warms my heart. Just off the top of my head... they had to fire the football coach and hand over a fortune while doing so, the basketball team fell way below expectations (not that it mattered since they were on a post-season ban), women's basketball didn't win a single conference game (coach fired), gymnastics only won 1 meet, baseball ended up in the league's basement bedroom, softball somehow made a regional but got bounced before they unpacked because they sucked... Bama beat them in nearly every meaningful head-to-head meeting across the landscape, they forced their football team to bus around to and from games and eat Lunchables like a Single A baseball team from Amarillo, and their AD is handing out his resume to anyone that makes eye contact with him.

Lone bright spots, their women's golf won the SEC and I'm sure the horse riding team did well.
 

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