Shane: Auburn reaches for the stars

By Shane from Centerpoint

I’ve often said that the Auburn football program would probably never be able to compete with the University of Alabama unless it cheated. Apparently, as evidenced by the multiple punishments and resulting probations over the years, several of the head coaches who’ve lead the Tigers in the past agreed. So much so that Auburn is one of the most penalized institutions in the history of college football.

In fact, I feel truthful in stating that almost every single issue Auburn has ever had with the NCAA directly involves its attempts to compete with Alabama.

And, in spite of its desire to be treated with the same national respect as the legendary, tradition–rich Crimson Tide, Auburn remains the “Rodney Dangerfield” of the sport. In their minds they’ve never received the admiration they feel they deserve.

One of the more revealing pictures indicating that Auburn may feel the need to “bend the rules” – to lure high–caliber talent to Lee County – lies in the demise of former Tiger coaches Tommy Tuberville and Terry Bowden. Both had no history with the NCAA and had solid winning records at Auburn, yet they were fired anyway. What did Auburn want from them that they refused to give?

Anybody smell a fish? I’m not insinuating anything here, but every other Tiger coach since 1957 has been in front of the infraction committee’s gun barrel.

Just look at Auburn’s latest attempt to catch the Tide. It included committing minor NCAA violations (Big Cat Weekend) in order to generate attention. In my opinion the tactics used by team Trooper/Luper displayed a blatant disregard for the recruiting rules that govern the conduct of an NCAA member institution.

Keeping Auburn’s well-documented, long-time relationship with the NCAA in mind, and noting the self-reported actions of the current staff, no reasonable person could say it’s outrageous to suspect that the Tigers could be pulling shenanigans again.

Currently rumors abound surrounding Auburn’s resurgence on the recruiting front. Several issues have surfaced recently, but the sudden conversion of high-profile athlete Cam Newton – from a solid Mississippi State commit to an Auburn Tiger – caused an Internet meltdown.

I hear that State head coach Dan Mullen – who previously coached Newton at Florida – is furious about how Newton was influenced to change his mind. Some say he could possibly file a complaint with the SEC or the NCAA.

Actually, I think Auburn’s desire to make a supposedly great athlete with a questionable history its poster boy – in spite of the risk – smacks of desperation. Who knows, the Tigers may be trying to project the image that they are “Second Chance U”.

Maybe Trooper and Luper have convinced Chizik that there is a gold mine full of former lawbreakers out there who can guide his team to the Promised Land.

Anyway, as I look at what I call “Project Cam”, I’m having trouble understanding if Auburn converted the younger Newton or his father, Cecil.

According to Cecil himself, “He (Cam) had a relationship with Dan Mullen and there was a comfort level there”.

Yet, it appears the Auburn staff somehow convinced Cecil (daddy) otherwise. In the very next sentence he says of Mississippi State, “I don’t think that was the right place for Cam”. He then states that Auburn came on strong at the end.

How strong, Mr. Newton? Don’t get upset that I ask, because the school that stole your son from Starkville is as notorious as its history indicates.

By the way, I hope you aren’t buying the “Gus Malzahn thing”. Everybody, even Chizik, knows Malzahn will take the first legitimate head-coaching job that comes his way.

Evidently Auburn is promoting a player who’s been deeply involved with thuggery as the centerpiece of its recruiting class. Cam’s dad Cecil seemed to approve as he described the impact of Cam’s commitment. He said, “You can see the momentum snowballing. Auburn is making a big move”.

That could be dangerous. We all know what’s happened in the past when Auburn’s tried “coming on strong” or using “big moves” to enhance recruiting efforts in reaching for the “stars”. The NCAA record book tells the story well.
Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.