It has been a difficult year, and not just for Auburn sports. Like most people, I have lost people in the past year which meant a lot to me. I lost my sister Rhonda, who loved Auburn sports as much as anyone I have met, but also loved people more than anyone. I also lost an uncle and just yesterday a cousin. This is the second consecutive New Year’s Eve that a family member has died.
What did that teach me? It has taught me to love every minute and appreciate everything you have because it can be gone in the blink of an eye.
Hopefully this is something Auburn fans will remember and enjoy as we head into 2022. As coach Bruce Pearl and the Hardwood Tigers roll and all is well in the world , in football, it will be an ongoing battle for Bryan Harsin and Auburn’s schedule to resume competition for the championships.
It’s going to take time and patience as this league is as deep as it has ever been. There are good players and coaches everywhere. Enjoy the ride and show solidarity. This is what is needed now. Just like when a family member or close friend dies, giving a helping hand or a kind word is often the best thing you can do.
It’s what Auburn has always been in my life, but now all too often those kind words are shrouded in beards that itch and pierce the skin.
There are a few things in place to get this football program back on its feet and we’ve seen some of that in the wins over LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss and playing face to face with Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Sadly, we also saw the other side of that with five straight losses and a game against Georgia State where the Tigers snatched victory from the jaws of loss.
Now it’s a matter of trying to find the right players on the transfer portal to make a difference. You don’t build a team from the portal, you fill a hole with a better player. That’s what the Tigers need to do right now in several key locations. If that happens, it could be a rapid improvement in 2022.
People often ask me “what can I do?” There are a few answers. The first is that you can donate money and resources, but not everyone can. The simplest answer is to take a page from the crowd at Auburn Arena for the LSU game or just about any game played there. Fully support the team and build the best possible crowd at home (or on the pitch).
When you talk about helping the team win and helping recruit in the same vein, that’s as good a New Years resolution as an Auburn fan could have.
My wishes for a new year
The first arrives on the football field. They need to do something about the targeting rules and find a way that someone like Jaylin Simpson doesn’t get left out of a game for trying to avoid hitting a sliding quarterback too hard. You can’t take a football game out of football and that’s what Simpson did. When the quarterback slips late and the defender turns his back to avoid the low blow and is still called out to aim, what should he do?
I’ll tell you what’s going on. If they continue to call every hit a targeting offense, we’ll see coaches start teaching players to descend lower and lower to tackle, increasing knee and ankle injuries along the way. . I’m all for the safety of the players, but Simpson was not trying to hurt the Houston player in any way and he didn’t lead with his header. If this is targeted and deserves suspension, then we will have serious problems with football on the road. My solution is to penalize the game from 15 yards, but not to suspend it. If you put your head down and it’s obvious you’ve jumped into the other player, so be it. They are two very different pieces and should be treated as such.
Another New Year’s wish is for college football to find a way to eliminate the false injuries that plague the sport. It’s embarrassing to see teams over and over again seeing players fall long after the game when instructed by the sideline. For me this one is simple. If you need a coach’s help to get off the pitch, you’ve got to miss the entire series. If it’s that bad then you need a break. It would prevent these things from happening so much and force teams to just manage the tempo. I will always remember Auburn’s defense training for Oregon leading two scout teams in defense with one play every 10-15 seconds. They were prepared for the tempo and what it does to you. I don’t watch football for a reason. Don’t turn football into a game where we simulate injuries left and right. Suck it up and play.
Speaking of football, can we get rid of the horrible overtime rules they’ve put in place this season? To have a football game decided on a two-point conversion is just madness. If you want to make things a little harder than the rules used to be, start both teams at 50 and play the NFL overtime rules from there. Each team has one possession and if no one wins, the first team to score in second overtime wins. It’s worth a try to see how it works. It can’t be worse than what we’ve seen this season.
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