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When it comes to basketball, Auburn gets it

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War Eagle.

There, I said it. What I’ve seen from Lee County in relation to the Tiger basketball program is enough to make even someone like myself say those blasphemous words, as Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs is leading the charge to bring the Auburn basketball program back to relevancy.

Last week, minutes after getting run out of the gym by a horrible…awful…South Carolina Gamecock basketball team, Auburn basketball coach Tony Barbee was met by Jacobs. Paid well to make the tough decisions, Jay made one on behalf of the program he loves. And it was the right move.

18-56 in conference play doesn’t lie, and Auburn University didn’t invest in a state-of-the-art basketball arena for those kind of results.

This guy gets it. (photo courtesy of Auburn University)
So Jacobs stepped up, put on his big boy pants, and did what was necessary for the good of the program.

Days later, Jacobs is reported to be in talks with former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl, a hire that would send shockwaves across the Southeastern Conference, if not the country.

Across the state, Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant sunk the Tide basketball program to depths I have never witnessed in my lifetime. In his five years at the helm, Alabama has only had one losing season, but in his tenure the Tide hasn’t darkened the threshold of meaningful basketball in years.

Auburn has not seen the NCAA Tournament in 11 years. Bama last went dancing in 2012…a two-step 1st round exit, compliments of Creighton.

Auburn’s program was going nowhwere under Tony Barbee, and Auburn University acted. Alabama’s basketball future is bleak under Anthony Grant, and Alabama Athletics Director Bill Battle sat on his hands, sending out a lame email about his support for the Tide’s worst basketball coach since the 1960’s.

Somewhere David Hobbs is shouting “Why couldn’t Bill Battle have been AD when I was there!”

And for that matter, I do too! Don’t we all want a boss like Bill Battle, a man who sets aside inconsequential things like results, revenue, game attendance and overall fan interest in the program (or the lack thereof) in order to keep a man employed at almost $2 Million a year?

This guy gets it too, and if Auburn hires him, so will the rest of the SEC. Regularly.
Across the state, Jay Jacobs saw what needed to be done and did it in order to right the ship. There is no reason Auburn basketball, with the resources Auburn has committed to it, can’t be consistently competitive. And if they do hire Bruce Pearl…or at least get a man in line with that line of thinking…Auburn basketball will be tough to beat for the foreseeable future.

In Tuscaloosa, however, the beat goes on, and the beatdowns, at least in 2014-2015, will continue.

Yes, when it comes to basketball, Auburn gets it, and I applaud Jacobs for not bowing to silly political correctness and other clutter in doing the right thing. I’ll even say a War Eagle to that.

But in Tuscaloosa, all Battle did was demonstrate that we’re eager to embrace Crimson mediocrity, taking on the role of “little brother” on the hardwood.

(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)

23 thoughts on “When it comes to basketball, Auburn gets it”

  1. I usually don’t agree with you (I am an Auburn fan). But, I have to say that you are right on the money. I’m saying this as a fan of the state of Alabama. There is no reason that either Auburn or Alabama can’t be competitive in basketball. Alabama has a pretty nice history in basketball (much nicer than Auburn’s), but it seems they have settled for mediocre in the last decade. I am not the biggest JJ fan (he is growing on me), but whether they get Pearl or not, at least it looks like he is making an effort to make basketball a priority. It would be nice for the Auburn/Alabama rivaly in basketball to mean something again. As it stands, it is just a chance for football fans to go to the game and see the presentation of the Iron Bowl trophy, because no one, Auburn nor Alabama fans, gives a rip about the game itself. Good job.

  2. While Alabama was getting hammered by LSU in the SEC tournament I switched over and started watching the girls 1A Mississippi state championshp game in Jackson, It was a much more entertaining, better coached and competitive game to watch. Alabama basketball will take decades to get out of the gutter. Can’t blame Trevor Lacey for transferring. What player with any talent would want to play for Anthony Grant.

  3. Alabama and Auburn should both have good basketball programs. Not great like the Dukes or Kentuckys, but they should be making the NCAA tournament or NIT consistently. Its not like the SEC is loaded with great basketball programs. Both programs have the money to invest in good coaches. And Auburn has a brand new facility (not sure about Alabamas basketball facility but if its not up to par they aint hurting for money to put into it). Our basketball programs should be feeding off the success of our football programs. Im not an Auburn fan that “only” cares about football. I like when the baseball team and basketball team are doing good. Most Auburn and Alabama fans do. But when they suck is when we stop caring as much. Then we’re kinda “oh well, football starts in X-many months”.

    1. I dunno. There are so many other sports Alabama is good enough at to win championships in, like men’s and women’s golf, softball, gymnastics, football, etc. Sometimes I wish I loved basketball more, but that’s about it.

      Still, I don’t know how we could pass on Pearl.

      At all.

      1. Alabama used to have a pretty good program under Wimp Sanderson. I think he won like 5 SEC tournaments, made 6 Sweet 16s and won over 200 games in 10 years. He was also SEC coach of the year 3 times and National Coach of the year once. I don’t know if Alabama could get back to that but they shouldn’t be what they are now.

        And you’re right about the other sports. Alabama has done well in softball, gymnastics, golf, baseball, etc. I just think they should be able to compete in basketball at a decent level. It will never rival football but it makes the football offseason a little more bearable.

    2. @peachy

      That’s what adds so much insult to injury here. We’re not talking about an SEC that is at the peak of its game. We’re talking a conference that is down considerably the last few years, and a coach (in Anthony Grant) that can’t get them into the NCAA Tournament conversation.

      Think about it, when you miss the NCAA Tournament (68 teams) and NIT Tournament (32) teams, your program is not in the top 100 programs in the country.

      When you’re paying your coach what Alabama is paying Grant (I don’t know what Barbee was making), there is absolutely no excuse for that. Don’t get me wrong, the NIT should never be a goal. But my gosh, you should be a shoe-in with a “high caliber coach” worthy of $1.85 Million annually.

      Like I said up top, at least Auburn is doing something about it, and I applaud them shooting for the stars in this next hire. I wish Alabama would.

  4. I am an Auburn fan. I do not know if we will get BP or not. But at least we tried. The UA shoe contract is an albatross.

    If Bill Battle had made the change, I think Bruce Pearl would have walked to Tuscaloosa to get the job.

    I sat on second row behind the visitors bench this year for every AU game. Anthony Grant was by far the most clueless coach I saw this year.

    1. @Harrison

      I agree with you on all counts, except this. I don’t know if Grant is as clueless as he is apathetic.

      I really think he thought this season was his swan’s song, and that big buyout was on its way.

      I just know Alabama basketball is years behind Auburn basketball, though the product on the floor right now is virtually identical. Simply because of the thinking behind the scenes, driving the decisions.

      1. Grant is intense and lacks personality. I think for both players and fans, a coach has to have some showmanship… basketball is different from football… I think coaching X and O’s are less important. You have to recruit great athletes, keep them in line as far as discipline …throw them the ball and let them play.
        Gene Bartow…who I knew well.. was great at getting guys to play.. there was a dude named Scott Simsick (SP?) that I interviewed once. Played for UAB. The first player in the state of Alabama to make a three-pointer. He told me what Bartow did w/him. He said..
        “Coach would put me in the game for three or four minutes at a time… he would say… Scott!!! Do not pass do not dribble…do the best you can on defense…we are going to give you the ball and when you get it….SHOOT IT!!!!

      2. Apathetic probably is the right word. He sat silent most of the Auburn game. No other coach did that all season.

        My guest was a big Alabama booster from Tuscaloosa. He is also Grant’s neighbor. He said Grant as nice a guy as you will ever meet. He also said in fairness, Grant was not himself the night of the game.

        If Alabama had done the (IMO) smart thing and fired Grant, the Tide would have been best job available nationally and had pick of the best available coaches.

        People were upset, Jay fired Barbee so quickly but why wait if you don’t feel things will be better in the future.

        Great article BTW.

  5. Alabama could re-hire Gottfried or Hobbs. LOL How old is Wimp…he still sounds spry on the radio. Jacobs is a puppet for Pat Dye and I would rather Battle than Dye. I trust C.M. Newton… I don’t trust anybody who says War Eagle… not in the realm of sports anyway

    I would rather Battle than Dye…once more for effect… I want a commission on the T-shirt sales

  6. By the way… you are all invited to a cook-out at my house. But do not tell anybody…keep it down home cuz!

  7. I’m sorry I’m such a spaz…. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! If you did not wear green today…consider yourself PINCHED!

  8. Word is NCAA is approving the Bruce Pearl and assistants hire. NCAA could block. This is risky on some levels by Auburn.

    NCAA may set up a satellite office in Lee County.

    Even as an Auburn guy I enjoy the You always have some nuggets. I have many Bama patients and keeps me up in conversation.

    These are great times in football for AU and UA. Never can I remember when both programs were 100% content with their head coaches.

    Keep the articles coming. Tommorrow you will write something to piss me off, but good day today.

    1. These are great times for Auburn and Alabama football…there was a day when basketball…there was a day when March Madness would include Alabama, Auburn, UAB, South Alabama, maybe Samford, Alabama State, etc….. good times

  9. Both teams and their fan bases should accept nothing less than the best from each university. Basketball season was so much better when we both are good. Let’s hope both get there and soon. By the way, this is not good we can agree on anything. What’s next! Dogs and cats living together!! Oh no. Good article ITK. Got to give you props when you write a good piece.

    1. Wrong cross-divisional rival, for one.

      Two, I haven’t been able to find out the details except that they all immediately posted bond.

      Three, I’m more interested in Spring practices. The footage I’ve seen, wow. The hype of Kiffin’s passing and receiving corp didn’t disappoint.

  10. i want no part of a coach who looked the ncaa directly in the eye & lied, told his assistants to lie, & told recruits & their parents to lie. his violation wouldn’t have been a huge deal to the ut program had he just manned up & said “I made a mistake”. pearl is & has always been sleazly all the way back to his assistant days.

    1. People say the same thing about Saban.

      Pearl wins, too.

      All I really know about Pearl is the BBQ thing. It seemed silly to me. What else did he do that he lied about?

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