Sunday, March 22, 2009

History repeating itself

Leading Off (The Cuff):
As I wrote in today's Anniston Star, there are plenty of similarities between Auburn's new offensive coordinator and the coordinator who crashed and burned in 2008. Tony Franklin and Gus Malzahn have eerily similar track records. Both brought with them offenses that produced Playstation numbers.
Why, then, should Auburn fans believe Malzahn will succeed where Franklin failed with virtually the same personnel?
Well, frankly, they shouldn't believe it right away. They should take a wait-and-see approach. Last summer Franklin was heralded on message boards as the greatest offensive mind since Bill Walsh. A few games of minimal offensive production later, Auburn fans were buying him bus passes out of town.
There are two major differences, though.
First, Malzahn will be able to run his own offense.
Look, I worked in a partial Troy beat writer capacity for The Montgomery Advertiser in 2007. I saw Franklin's offense. I talked with his players.
The Auburn offense in 2008 was not Franklin's offense. It rarely moved with any speed. There was a much larger premium on running the ball between the tackles. The razzle-dazzle was largely left behind in Troy.
Malzahn, on the other hand, comes in with a new coaching staff -- one that isn't obsessed with running the football and shortening the game; one that hasn't grown accustomed to an entirely different brand of football.
What you see in games next year will be the authentic Gus Malzahn offense -- not a hybrid.
Secondly, Malzahn has time.
Franklin didn't.
Franklin's offense faced major struggles in his first five games at Troy, too. It wasn't until Year Two that the offense really hit its stride. Unfortunately for Franklin, the situation he walked into wouldn't afford him the opportunity adapt slowly. It wasn't a situation where he could dip his toes into the water to gauge the temperature. He was thrown into the deep end, where he ultimately drowned.
Malzahn will have time. Expectations will be low this season for an Auburn team that won two SEC games by a total of three points last year. The pressure on Gene Chizik and Malzahn won't compare to that on Tommy Tuberville and Franklin last season.
Will all that mean success in 2009? I can't tell you that. What I can tell you is to temper expectations. This is still the same offensive talent that ranked toward the bottom of the SEC last year.
Unfortunately for reporters, we won't have any way to gauge the offense's progress until A-Day.

Today's Starting Lineup:
A late-inning collapse buried Auburn yesterday against No. 15 Arkansas. The Tigers are hoping to salvage one game this weekend at Plainsman Park.

Joe Medley wrote in today's paper that Auburn is finally starting to get some love at Beard-Eaves. The Tigers face Baylor Tuesday night with the winner advancing to Madison Square Garden.

The women cleaned up against Lehigh. They play again Monday in a florified home game against Rutgers (more on that tomorrow).

Double Down on National Sports:
Gonzaga topped new-generation underdog Western Kentucky on a last-second shot last night. Upsets have been hard to find in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

It's Roy Oswalt against Daisuke Matsuzaka today in the World Baseball Classic semifinal. The winner faces Korea on Monday for the WBC title.

Looks like Trevor Hoffman can be added to the list of MLB injuries.

2009 Wonderlic scores are in. Matt Stafford impressed.

Around the League:
Arkansas opens spring practice with plenty of questions to be answered. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Carlton Thomas is impressing in his quest to beat Caleb King for the starting tailback spot. The AJC
Marcus Thornton's efforts weren't enough to get LSU past top-seed North Carolina. The Times-Picayune. The SEC is now out of the NCAA Tournament, having won just one game and having silenced no critics.
Billy Gillispie apparently isn't worried about his job security, though perhaps he should be. The Louisville Courier-Journal
A true freshman is turning heads at Tennessee's spring practice. The News Sentinel
Vanderbilt is looking into the possibility of a no-huddle offense. The Tennesseean

Today's News
The Good:
A wood carver is tryint to lift spirits in Biloxi, Miss. MSNBC

The Bad:
Four Oakland police officers are dead after being shot as a result of what began as a "fairly routine traffic stop." CNN

The Absurd:
A Texas woman arrested along with her husband on their March 14 wedding date is filing charges against authorities. MSNBC

Ending on a High Note:
Barack Obama's lead economist sees light at the end of the tunnel that is the current state of the economy. CNN

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