First Lines

“You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht.” When I sat down at the computer this AM, that is the first thing that popped into my mind. Where in the hell did that come from?

Life is odd. Minds are, often, uncontrollable.

You’re so vain.

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2  NKJV

What’s it like ‘walking onto a yacht’, anyway? I sure as heck wouldn’t know. Well, Elmer Fudd is not going to chase that OR the vanity rabbit today.

NEXT FIRST LINE, PLEASE!

“I’m an alligator, I’m a mama-papa coming for you.” Moonage Daydream by David Bowie. RIP.

Now that’s really a good one! So good, in fact, that it warrants more (not that Carly didn’t)…

“I’m the space invader, I’ll be a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you
Keep your mouth shut, you’re squawking like a pink monkey bird
And I’m busting up my brains for the words

Keep your ‘lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah

Don’t fake it baby, lay the real thing on me
The church of man, love, is such a holy place to be
Make me baby, make me know you really care
Make me jump into the air”

That’ll give you something to chew on for a bit. As much as I’ve listened to that song, I did NOT know all those lyrics.

OK. First lines.

“Sitting on the park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent.” Ian Anderson’s Aqualung. I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole. Pun not intended, initially, but then it occurred too me.

“Wop bop a loo bop a lop bom bom!” You can fill in the rest. It ain’t Dylan. Thank you Little Richard. AKA Richard Wayne Penniman.

Speaking of Robert Zimmerman, AKA Bobby Dylan…

“They’re selling postcards of the hanging, they’re painting the passports brown.” Desolation Row

“Once upon a time you dressed so fine, you threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?” Like A Rolling Stone

Which brings us to, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Rolling Stones.” (Don’t you just love following a winding stream of consciousness?)

“I was born in a crossfire hurricane and I howled at my ma in the driving rain.” Jumpin’ Jack Flash

“Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields…” Look that one up and read all the lyrics. Wow! Rock ‘n’ roll, Mick, indeed. Brown Sugar.

First lines are often like first impressions, and whether it be in poetry or prose, they set the tone. They frame the story. They lure you in.

Novels? Yeah!

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice.

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina

I’m not even going down the “Tale Of Two Cities” road.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” George Orwell – 1984

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” J.D. Salinger – The Catcher In The Rye. Long one, eh?

“Call me Ishmael.” Herman Melville – Moby Dick. Short one, eh?

“All children, except one, grew up.” J.M. Barrie – Peter Pan. Call me Peter Pan. It is a badge I would wear with honor.

“Elmer Gantry was drunk, lovingly and pugnaciously drunk.” Sinclair Lewis – Elmer Gantry. War Eagle!

“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” I’ll be you know this book and author from the first word! As an aside; she was pretty darn hot to me when I was sitting, by myself, in the Alco Theater back in 1962.

“He opened to her the passenger door of the bright yellow Pinto wagon, faux wood grain paneling and all, closed it, bounded to driver’s side, got in and posed her the question, “Where are you from, Melodye? ” Bird LeCroy – Me and Paul: A Love Story

Well hey! It’s a start! To be continued? Maybe, maybe not. But, I hope, we’ve all had a good time here today, boys and girls. Let’s talk about it!

And until then, “Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck may be somebody’s mother.” Music by John Phillip Sousa. Lyrics anonymous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rainy Days And Mondays

I got nothing. How many people have ever sat down, put their hands on a keyboard and come up with that? Countless? Usually I have an inspiration. Sometimes I just sit down and begin to write, and it comes.

So here we go…

It’s dreary outside. Been raining since yesterday. Gray. Supposed to quit soon if it hasn’t already. I think of the Carpenters song ‘Rainly Days and Mondays’,  which was written by the great Paul Williams, BTW. If you are not familiar with Paul, then “Google” him up. He has been overlooked and underrated.

Paul also wrote ‘I Won’t Last A Day Without You’, ‘An Old Fashioned Love Song’, ‘Rainbow Connection’, ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’, ‘You And Me Against The World’, ‘Let Me Be The One’ and ‘Evergreen’, among many MANY others.

I remember watching Paul on The Tonight Show, many times, back in the 70’s. I particularly remember him singing ‘Isn’t That What friends Are For’ on one, or more, of the shows with Johnny.

Here he is at the Bluebird Cafe, in Nashville, back in 2012…

Melodye wanted ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ sang at our wedding. I nixed it as she did ‘War Eagle’  as the processional. I wish both of these had been used back on that sultry summer day in 1977.

The song(s) are great descriptors of our life together. I thought it wasn’t “cool” enough to use a Carpenters song. Really? How short sided we can be in our youth. In old age too, if we don’t watch it.

Live and learn. And, hopefully, change. If one is resistant to change then “one” will be a dull/embittered boy or girl, indeed.

We don’t have to change for ‘change sake’ but we must be open to “sharing horizons that are new to us” and embracing them, often for the better.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Rainy Days and Mondays

“Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
Sometimes I’d like to quit, nothin’ ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around, nothin’ to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

What I’ve got they used to call the blues
Nothin’ is really wrong, feelin’ like I don’t belong
Walkin’ around, some kind of lonely clown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Funny, but it seems I always wind up here with you
Nice to know somebody loves me
Funny, but it seems that it’s the only thing to do
Run and find the one who loves me
(The one who loves me)

What I feel has come and gone before
No need to talk it out
(Talk it out)
We know what it’s all about
Hangin’ around
(Hangin’ around)
Nothin’ to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Funny, but it seems that it’s the only thing to do
(Only thing to do)
Run and find the one who loves me

What I feel has come and gone before
No need to talk it out
(Talk it out)
We know what it’s all about
Hangin’ around
(Hangin’ around)
Nothin’ to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Hangin’ around
(Hangin’ around)
Nothin’ to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”

And so, it’s come down to ‘rain’ songs, huh? OK!

Rain – The Beatles, Rain – Uriah Heep; Feels Like Rain – Buddy Guy; Drivin’ Rain – Gov’t Mule; Rainy Night In Georgia (covered, famously, by Brook Benton but written by Tony Joe White, who writes his best songs while driving to Arkansas, $1 to Tom Kimmel); I Love A Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbit; Who’ll Stop The Rain – CCR; Have You Ever Seen The Rain – CCR; Raindrops Keep falling On My Head – BJ Thomas (written by Bert Bacharach and Hal David); Purple Rain – Prince.

Got any more? Feedback always welcome at birdlecroy.com, my FB page, or @autull on Twitter.

Have you ever read a blog so bereft of quality? But it’s free folks. We’re doin’ this for tips. And speaking of tips, be generous to your waitresses. They work very hard to make sure you have a drink in front of you. Thank you! We’ll be here all week at the Lizard Lounge! Drive safely! We love you!

Summer Shower – Poem by Emily Dickinson

A drop fell on the apple tree,
Another on the roof;
A half a dozen kissed the eaves,
And made the gables laugh.

A few went out to help the brook,
That went to help the sea.
Myself conjectured, Were they pearls,
What necklaces could be!

The dust replaced in hoisted roads,
The birds jocoser sung;
The sunshine threw his hat away,
The orchards spangles hung.

The breezes brought dejected lutes,
And bathed them in the glee;
The East put out a single flag,
And signed the fete away.

 

 

 

 

 

Auburn vs. Arkansas: 23 1/2 Days and Counting

I don’t know about you folks, but I am chomping at the bit to get the 2014 college football season underway! There are twenty one days before we get some SEC action and two days after that the first full slate of games kick off. Bring it on!

The Auburn Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks square off at 4:00 PM EDT on Saturday August 30th at Jordan-Hare Stadium on the new SEC Network. This will be the 23rd meeting between the two schools with Auburn holding a 12-10-1 edge over the Hawgs in this relatively young series. The first time the teams teed it up was in the 1984 Liberty Bowl. Auburn won that game 21-15 on the strength of MVP Bo Jackson’s 88 yards rushing. His 39 yard touchdown run put the Tigers up 21-9 and Auburn’s defense held on to preserve the victory.

Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992 and the teams met for the first time that year as SEC West rivals. The game ended in a frustrating 24-24 tie. Ironically, Bo Jackson’s number 34 was retired at halftime of the game. Both teams had disappointing seasons in ’92. Neither team had a winning record. 1992 would also mark the last campaign for Auburn under head coach Pat Dye.

The series has also been one of frustration for the Auburn Family. On more than one occasion a Tiger team has come into the game ranked and come out on the losing end of things. My record, in games I have attended, is 6-7-1. That will not do.

There are multiple games between these divisional foes that stick in my craw. One such game occurred during the 2006 season. The Tigers entered the game with a 5-0 record and ranked number two in the country. Visions of an SEC Championship were beginning to formulate in the minds of the Auburn faithful. It was a brilliantly sunny day on The Plains and hopes were high for the home team.

The unranked Razorbacks, under Coach Houston Nutt, were 3-1.The one loss was a lopsided 50-14 defeat at the hands of the sixth ranked USC Trojans in Fayetteville. They squeaked by Vanderbilt 21-19 in Nashville and two weeks prior to their visit to The Plains they handed Alabama a tough 24-23 loss in a game which was also played in Fayetteville. It didn’t seem that the Hawgs has developed a true sense of identity yet. They had a pair of superb running backs in Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, but they had a true freshman at quarterback in Mitch Mustain.

In an interesting aside, Arkansas had hired a high school coach as offensive coordinator for the the 2006 season. He was an excellent, even legendary, high school coach in the annals of Arkansas football history. His teams had won multiple state championships at different levels but he had absolutely ZERO college coaching experience. Some Razorback assistant coaches, reportedly, had taunted him at pre-season practices by calling him “high school.”

Arthur Gustav Malzahn was this coach’s name. But he was simply known as Gus.

Fast forward to 2009. Gus was hired by Gene Chizik as offensive coordinator at Auburn University. After the one season at Arkansas, in which the Razorbacks went 7-1 in the SEC and won the West Division, Malzahn spent two seasons at Tulsa in the same capacity. Tulsa led the nation in total offense in both 2007 and 2008.

That brings us to 2010. Auburn goes on an improbable 14-0 run and captures the BCS National Championship. During that season the Auburn offense set school records in points per game at 41.2, total yards at 6,989, total offense per game at 499.2, rushing yards at 3,987 per contest, rushing touchdowns at 41 and passing touchdowns at 31. BOOM!

Now we all know what transpired in 2013. After one season as head coach at Arkansas State, Auburn hired Arthur Gustav Malzahn to become it’s 26th head coach. The Tigers won the SEC Championship and came within 13 seconds of winning the BCS National Championship for the second time in four years.

Yes, sports fans, we now find ourselves just over three weeks from the kickoff of the 2014 college football season. The SEC and season opener for these two schools, Auburn and Arkansas, is fast approaching. They are pitted against each other. Arkansas is not ranked in the coaches pre-season poll. Auburn stands at number five. The Tigers have been established as 21 point favorites. The opinion here is that they will cover said spread. BOOM!

Good people, in 23 days, 1 1/2 hours and counting we shall hear: “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Jordan-Hare Stadium for today’s game between the Auburn Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks.” As I stated at the top of this column, “I am chomping at the bit!”

How about you ?

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Grateful, But Not Dead Yet

Well folks, 2015 is in our rear-view mirror and 2016 is upon us. As the Grateful Dead ponders the passage of time in their song, Uncle John’s Band, “Oh, oh but I want to know, where does the time go?”

Beats me. And when you’re well to the north side of of six decades on this spinning blue marble, that line rings ever so true. I’m running as fast as I can, but I often feel like I can’t keep up. ZOOOOOOMMMMM!!! Collecting Social Security? WHOOOOSSSSHHHH!!! Looking down the barrel of sixty-five turns-around-the-horn in a mere twenty months?

Wot hoppened?

Life did, that’s what. Fine. Carpe diem! Rock ‘N Roll, Mick! I’ve tried to enjoy every minute of it and I plan to keep on doing just that!

Now, let’s take a quick glance back at 2015, and Auburn, before we turn the page to 2016.

It truly does seem like yesterday that we were about to make our way to Tampa for the Outback Bowl between Auburn and Wisconsin. Auburn was flush with promise. Will Muschamp had just been hired as the defensive coordinator on The Plains and things were looking up.

That bowl game, in hindsight, was a portent of things to come. Daniel Carlson, a superb placekicker, bounced a field goal attempt off the goalpost, at Raymond James Stadium in overtime, and the Tigers found itself on the losing end of its first bowl game of 2015. They will play their SECOND bowl game of the year in the Birmingham Bowl. The opponent is the Memphis Tigers. That game is either in progress, or has been completed, by the time you read this.

Then came recruiting. Gus and company landed an excellent class. Check it out!

The A-Day game, in mid-April, gave Auburn fans more reason to hope as Jeremy Johnson, Sean White, Duke Williams, Roc Thomas, and company lit it up! Woo Hooo!

SEC Media Days ushered in a blast of unabated enthusiasm for Auburn Tiger fans all across this spinning globe. They were picked, by the media, to win the SEC and advance to the College Football Playoff. I was, and many of you were, so stoked by this time that we could hardly contain ourselves. Auburn’s in the top five and Jeremy Johnson is getting Heisman hype!

GULP! We know, all too well, what transpired next and continued throughout the entire autumn.

Mediocrity. In spades.

So, where does that leave us? In Birmingham, that’s where.

I was once told, by an attendant at what was the old Gulf station at College and Glenn, in Auburn, when my old Pontiac Astre broke down, “You have a blew gasket.” That was, of course, spoken to me. I knew my gasket wasn’t the color blue. I knew it was busted, broken, kaput.

And as I peer at 2016 through my orange and blue crystal ball, I’m hoping this thing ain’t “blew”.

I believe Gus will get his bus up and running MUCH more smoothly than it ran in 2015, when it sputtered and spewed and belched forth six regular season wins.

I think he will locate a very good defensive coordinator that will, hopefully, give us the continuity and stability he is looking for.

I think he will come up with an exciting dual threat quarterback, John Franklin?, that will get the offense back in the mode Gus has become known for with his HUNH.

The Tigers have a good nucleus of returning players to build around in 2016. They include Braden Smith, Alex Kozan, Austin Golson, Robert Leff, and Kaleb Kim on the O line. Will Shon Coleman and Avery Young go pro?

The D line should return Carl Lawson (PLEASE!), Gimel President, Raashed Kennion, Maurice Swain, Dontavius Russell, Devaroe Lawrence, and Price Tega Wanogho, among others.

Linebackers? Tre’ Williams, Deshaun Davis, Jeff Holland, and Cameron Toney will make up the core.

How about the secondary? Carlton Davis (BOOM!), T.J. Davis, Josh Holsey, Stephen Roberts, Nick Ruffin, Johnathan “Rudy” Ford, Tim Irvin, Tray Matthews, and Montavious Atkinson.

And back to the offense. The aforementioned John Franklin, Tyler Queen, Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and, the incoming Woody Barrett, are all potential starters at quarterback.

The running back position looks great with Jovon Robinson, Peyton Barber, Roc Thomas, and Kerryon Johnson helping to make up that group.

Jason Smith, Tony Stevens, Stanton Truitt, Marcus Davis, Darius Slayton, Ryan Davis, and Gray King will return at wide receiver.

The kicking duties are in excellent hands (or legs?) with Daniel Carlson and Kevin Phillips coming back.

I expect the tight end and H-back/fullback roles to perform much better with some experience and added talent.

All the guys, just mentioned, were known quantities, for the most part. There are redshirt and incoming freshman that will bolster the talent levels, as well.

What else do the last couple of days in 2015 and the New Year of 2016 hold for those of us who are rabid college football fans.

I have Alabama over Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl and Oklahoma over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

What will happen in Glendale? Will Nick Saban win one more Natty at Alabama and depart T-Town? Or maybe retire? Possibly?

Who will be the early favorites for the 2016 crown? Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Notre Dame, it appears.

The SEC West? That has to be Bama. The SEC East? I like Tennessee.

Ohio State should get a strong challenge from Michigan and, especially, Michigan State in the Big 10.

Florida State looks set for the long haul in the ACC, after Clemson.

You have to stay with Okie State, TCU, and Baylor to continue to be strong in the Big 12.

The PAC-12? Wide open. USC, Oregon, UCLA, Stanford, and, my dark horse, the Washington Huskies, should all contend.

A fly-in-the-ointment? Houston? Boise State?

And what about the Auburn Tigers? You’ve been given a look at some solid returning talent and there are some studs in the 2016 signing class. Only time will tell. But, playing in the SEC West is absolutely brutal.

Where do we find victories on that next schedule?

The Tigers open with my pre-season numero uno, Clemson… in Auburn…on my birthday. I’m not of the mind to pencil that one in as a win.

Let’s go with victories over Arkansas State, Texas A&M, LA-Monroe, Mississippi State (bye, Dak), Vanderbilt, and Alabama A&M. That’s six. I have LSU (in Auburn), and Arkansas (also in Auburn) as, at least, 50/50 shots. Clemson, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama? You simply cannot pencil wins in for any of those tough ones. But, I do believe Auburn will have a chance to win any game they play in, with an 8-4 record a good possibility. Anything else will be gravy. Well, bring on the turkey and dressing ’cause we have that gravy awaiting on The Plains.

Happy New Year and War Damn Eagle!

Bowl Me Over!

I will jump right in with a keen grasp of the obvious. It’s BOWL season! Well, duh!

We’re surrounded by bowls and they’re closing in on us ($1 to Dr. Hunter S. Thompson for that bit of inspiration). If you substitute the word idiots, for bowls, then you have the good doctor’s quote exacto.

Much of our chatter about bowls comes in the form of criticism. How many times have you heard or spoke this phrase? Now, everybody together. Fill in the blank. “There are too (blank) bowls.” How did you complete that sentence? I’ll bet you didn’t use the word ‘few’. Who says there are too FEW bowls? No one. Who says there are too ‘many’ bowls? Almost everyone.

It’s true that there are a glut of bowls which now comprise our postseason. There are so many, in fact, that teams with a sterling record of 5-7 are now being invited to participate in these, often meaningless, exhibitions.

Bowl names are sometimes, at once, both puzzling and amusing. Case in point. here are the bowls that have already gone into the books as I write this column. The Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, AutoNation Cure Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, and the Miami Beach Bowl.

That’s six down and thirty-five to go!

Bowls, bowls, bowls! Sponsors, sponsors, sponsors! And half-filled stadiums (which is being generous to a number of these contests). Or half-empty stadiums, huh? 😉

But you know what? I like bowls. Bring ’em on! Watch them or don’t watch them. Let the kids, their schools, and their fans have a big time. It’s fun! And bowl trips, themselves, are a lot of fun. That’s certainly the case as I have experienced it.

I have attended nineteen bowl games, in my lifetime, and the Auburn Tigers were participants in each and every one of them. Surprise!

Let’s take a look at two of the most memorable of these events.

Auburn vs. Michigan – 1984 Sugar BowlIMG_2569

There’s nothing like the first time. This holds true in many areas of life. This was the first bowl game I ever observed in person. And even though it was a low scoring game, Auburn won 9-7, it was very exciting. Michigan coach, Bo Schembechler, said Auburn wouldn’t be able to run the ball on the Wolverines. They did.

Bo Jackson ran for 130 yards on 22 carries and he was named the game’s most outstanding player. But, the Tigers were not able to punch the ball into the end zone. Al Del Greco kicked three field goals to account for all of the Tigers’ points. The last one came with 23 seconds left on the clock to seal it for Auburn.

As memorable as the game was, to me, it was the city of New Orleans that almost stole the show. My wife, Melodye, and I arrived on New Year’s Eve for the game which was to take place on Monday, January 2, as Sunday is pro football day and the Saints were playing at home.

Our hotel, a Days Inn in Kenner, LA, was in the grip of a most unusual cold snap that ‘The Big Easy’ was suffering through at that time. The pipes had burst in the modest facility and we were sent to the International Hotel on Canal Street. It was quite close to the banks of the mighty Mississippi River and it was a big step up from the little motel near the airport where we were scheduled to stay

To say a big time was had by all would be putting it mildly. We watched, in both awe and disbelief, at the proceedings which took place in the French Quarter, and, most popularly, on Bourbon Street. “Laissez les bon temps router!” Or, in English, “Let the good times roll!”

They did!

It seems as though we walked dozens of miles in ‘Nawlins’ those three days and nights in late 1983 and early 1984.IMG_2570

There were hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s and rum swizzles at the Seaport Cafe & Bar, but primarily there was beer at Molly’s Irish Pub on Toulouse Street. This was the first time we had ever run across those 24 ounce cans on Foster’s Beer, which is brewed in Australia.

As luck would have it, there was a group of Aussie sailors who were docked in New Orleans and we made their acquaintance through an Auburn student, from Baltimore, who was named Sarah. Sarah, and the sea faring lads from down under, combined with us to finish all of the Foster’s that Molly’s had in stock on the eve of the Sugar Bowl. Then it was into the Dixie beer, which was a step down.

There was also Shrimp Remoulade at Arnaud’s, this is where the dish was conceived, red beans and rice at Joe’s, and oysters at the Acme Oyster House.

We have since made several trips to New Orleans, including four more Sugar Bowls, but there will never be another like that first one.

“Laissez les bon temps router,” indeed!

Auburn vs. Texas A&M – 1986 Cotton Bowl

As luck would have it, this was the 50th anniversary of the classic from Dallas. Oddly enough, that 1983-84 jaunt to New Orleans was the 50th playing of the Sugar Bowl.

The Aggies, under the leadership of then extraordinarily highly paid coach, Jackie Sherrill, laid a whuppin’ on Heisman winner, Bo Jackson, and the Auburn Tigers. Bo DID win another MVP for this game, yet again.IMG_2568

But what a trip!

We were living in Albany, NY at the time and we were accompanied by our dear friends, Don and Linda Meagher. The Meaghers were New York natives. We were about to introduce them to the world of hospitality, Texas style.

Melodye and I spent the first three years of our marriage in Ft. Worth, so we were very excited to be headed back that way for the first time since we left Tejas. We stayed at a La Quinta Inn in Euless, which is located about half way between Dallas and Ft. Worth.

We gorged on Mexican food at Raphael’s in Dallas, twice, and BBQ at the Southfork Ranch near Plano. The four of us used to always watch Dallas together on Friday nights, so this was a big treat for us.

One night, after dinner at said Raphael’s, I coaxed the crew into stopping by Carter Country in Irving, TX, the then home of the Dallas Cowboys. Carter Country is a combination bowling alley and honky tonk.

Don, not being steeped in, or necessarily comfortable with Texas culture was a bit wide-eyed when we pulled into the parking lot. Don surveyed the situation and said, “I don’t know. There are an awful lot of pickup trucks here.” I assured him that the crowd here could add and subtract and that there would be no problem. There was not a problem. But, we were familiarized with a song that played on the jukebox between live music sets. It was/is entitled, ‘The Rodeo Song’. I’m not going fill you in on the lyrics to ‘The Rodeo Song’ as they are not fit for younger eyes and ears or those who are easily offended. Google it, if you so desire.

‘Well it’s forty below and I don’t give a…”

Take it from there!

The highlight of the Cotton Bowl trip was probably New Year’s Eve at Billy Bob’s Texas. Surely everyone of you good readers is up on this world renowned country and western palace. The mechanical bull and all that. I think Gilley’s was the first of these types of establishments. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Gary Morris and Reba McEntire brought in 1986 that evening. A good, no GREAT, time was had by all. Melodye truly enjoyed the champagne that was served up to us, in twelve ounce Billy Bob’s Texas plastic tumblers, at the stroke of midnight.

Ask her about it the next time you see her. Or, better yet, give her a shout on Facebook. She is such a good sport about my telling of our adventures together. There have been countless numbers of those and I look forward to many, many more with great anticipation.

The next one will take place in the great state of Alabama. The Birmingham Bowl. We’ll see you here, next week, with a preview of that bowl game, and hopefully, we will see some of you, who help to make up the Auburn Family, in Birmingham.

Peace on earth to one and all!

Top Ten Tuesday (With a Teaser or Two)

I was recently asked, by our Executive Editor here at Campus Pressbox, Damien Bowman, to select ten people for the Baseball Hall of Fame off the 2016 ballot. I did. And here they are:

Mike Piazza
Jeff Bagwell
Tim Raines
Larry Walker
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Nomar Garciaparra
Jeff Kent
Fred McGriff
Edgar Martinez
Alan Trammel

I attempted not to choose any known “juicers”. No Bonds, McGwire, etc. I don’t know if I succeeded in this, but I did my best, IMHO. That is another discussion for another day, and I’m sure we’ll take it up on a podcast in the not-too-distant-future.

I attempt to be a purist. No DH, Astro Turf, et al. That’s probably, at least, a little disingenuous, but one has to try.

Our SEC 411 podcast, which we are about to record, is not going to contain much discussion on football, the SEC, or sports in general. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Stay tuned!

The ten Hall of Famers prompted me to come up with a column which contains no SEC football or sports, except for the above mentioned HOF nominees.

We’re going to go with a “Top Ten Tuesday” (I know this posts on Wednesday but I wrote it on Tuesday. So there!) which will be lists of my top ten in areas that are, pretty much, pop culture. And this is not scientific, in any particular order, or what I consider to be, technically the best. It’s just my favorites… today.

So here we go!

Top Ten Movies

The Godfather

The Godfather Part Two

Pulp Fiction

Blazing Saddles

Inglorious Basterds (yes, I do LOVE Quentin Tarantino)

Apocalypse Now (and Francis Ford Coppolla, evidently)

Vertigo

The Graduate

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Big Lebowski

Top Ten Country Songs

The Grand Tour – George Jones

I Don’t Wanna Play House – Tammy Wynette

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams

The Pilgrim Chapter 33 – Kris Kristofferson

Whiskey River – Willie Nelson

Merry Christmas From The Family – Robert Earl Keen

Yard Sale – Sammy Kershaw

Sea Of Heartbreak – Don Gibson

Since You’ve Gone – Ferlin Husky

(Tie) Holding Things Together – Merle Haggard &
He’s Got You – Patsy Cline

Top Ten Rock/Pop Songs

Powderfinger – Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Revolution – The Beatles

Babelogue>Rock N Roll Nigger – Patti Smith

Red Red Wine – Neil Diamond

Goin’ Out West – Gov’t Mule (originally done by Tom Waits)

See Me, Feel Me – The Who

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

Crimson And Clover – Tommy James and the Shondells or Joan Jett, take your pick.

Green River – CCR

I Love You Period – Dan Baird

Top Ten TV Shows (Network TV including PBS. And I haven’t watched many network shows in a long time. PBS, yes.)

The Andy Griffith Show

Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Downton Abbey

Frasier

Saturday Night Live

Dallas

NYPD Blue

Seinfeld

Northern Exposure

M*A*S*H

Top Ten Cable TV Shows

Mad Men

Breaking Bad

Friday Night Lights

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

The Colbert Report

The Walking Dead

Damages

Better Call Saul

The Killing

Vikings

Top Ten Premium Cable TV Shows

Deadwood

The Sopranos

The Wire

Homeland

Game of Thrones

Masters of Sex

Californication

Ray Donovan

Nurse Jackie

The Larry Sanders Show

Top Ten Rock/Pop Albums

Live At The Fillmore East – The Allman Brothers Band

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs – Derek & The Dominos

Are You Experienced? – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Europe ’72 – The Grateful Dead

Aqualung – Jethro Tull

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Neil Young

Chicago Transit Authority – Chicago

Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin

Revolver – The Beatles

Woodstock – Various Artists

Top Ten Jazz Albums

Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

Bitches Brew – Miles Davis

A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

Giant Steps – John Coltrane

Bill Evans – Conversations With Myself

Duke Ellington – Money Jungle

Sonny Rollins – The Bridge

Charlie Parker – Yardbird Suite: The Ultimate Charlie Parker

Thelonious Himself – Thelonious Monk

The Best Of – Django Reinhardt

Ok ok! This is typically an Auburn column, so I won’t leave you without Tiger news, or info, altogether.

Top Ten Auburn Games (I have attended)

Alabama 1989 – Tide’s first game ever played on The Plains. 30-20

Alabama 2013 – Kick Six. 34-28

Alabama 1972 – Punt Bama Punt. 17-16

Alabama 1982 – Bo Over The Top. 23-22

Florida 1993 – Number one ranked Gators go down in Jordan-Hare. 38-35

Oregon 2011 – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 BCS National Championship Game. We’re number one! 22-19

Texas A&M 2013 – Dee Ford sacks Johnny Football on the final play of the game and we begin to feel it. The march to Pasadena! 45-41

Georgia 2013 – The Miracle at Jordan-Hare, 43-38

LSU 1997 – Dameyune Craig leads a last minute comeback in Death Valley. Just me and Luke made this trip to the Red Stick. Magical night. 31-27

Michigan 1984 – Sugar Bowl. Al Del Greco splits the uprights with a last second field goal. Auburn wins the National Championship according to the New York Times. They won it on the field as well. You will never convince me otherwise. 9-7

Hey claim ’em! It’s been done before! 😉

So there you have it! A Top Ten Tuesday! This should prompt the opportunity for some great discussion, so fire away!

I will probably do some more of this type of thing during bowl season and the off-season.

Also, many of us here at Campus Pressbox will be bringing you bowl previews. My first one will take a look at the Cure Bowl, which is to be played Saturday, 12/19, in Orlando’s Citrus Bowl. San Jose State vs. Georgia State. The Spartans and the Panthers!

And, naturally, I will preview the Birmingham Bowl.

Merry Happy!!!

O Defense, Where Art Thou?

“ I am a man of constant sorrow.”

Surely you remember that great song, done by the Soggy Bottom Boys, from the movie whose name spawned the title of this piece.

The opening line of that traditional American folk tune surely seems to ring true for the Auburn family, and particularly where defense is concerned.

Just when things began to appear to take shape… BOOM! … Coach Will Muschamp is named head coach at South Carolina. And, he takes defensive back coach, Travaris Robinson, with him. Good for them. Godspeed and good luck!

But that leaves Auburn back at square one… Again.

This will be the eighth defensive coordinator change on the Plains since Gene Chizik left, after the 2004 season, to take the same position at the University of Texas. That’s more turnover than the apple pie variety at a 24 hour diner. But not as tasty.

David Gibbs, Will Muschamp (round one), Paul Rhoads, Ted Roof, Brian VanGorder, Ellis Johnson, Will Muschamp (deux), and, fill in the blank, compose the merry-go-round that has been churning at Auburn during that time span. Auburn has not, truly, had a salty defense in the Auburn tradition since Tommy Tuberville made his exit following the 2008 campaign.

Speaking of Tommy Tuberville, he was also, in good part, the inspiration for this humble column.

I was in Atlanta, this past weekend, soaking in the SEC Championship Game festivities in and around the Georgia Dome. I was joined by four Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brothers from my days at Troy University, circa 1974-76. One is a Gator (the gracious brother who pulled this all together). Another is a Georgia Bull-DOGGIE. The third, a Bama fan, and I pulled up the rear as the representative War Eagle.

To say a good time was had by all would be a gross understatement. More on that later over coffee, of the Irish sort, if any one of you so desires.

Back to Tubby.

After we brothers parted ways I made my way down to the College Football Hall of Fame, which is right there near CNN Center and the Dome. I am ashamed to say I had never been there prior to to this time. And let me say that it is a MUST, A+++, Five star, whatever. Go! Now! Drive! Fly! Just do it!

I upgraded to a season pass after I completed my, four hours of bliss, visit.

And, you don’t have to be a rabid fan, like myself, to enjoy the experience. Casual fans and non-football fans should enjoy it immensely. Everyone should enjoy it.

Enough of that endorsement. Let’s try again to get back to Tubby.

My host guided me through the sign-up process and my Auburn helmet lit up on the gargantuan wall in the spacious entry area of the Hall. I was then informed, by another host, as I was looking lost while gawking at the splendor of it all, that coaches David Cutcliffe, Bill Curry, and Tommy Tuberville were seated nearby. They were signing autographs before they were to participate on a panel for an event that takes place, weekly, on the “field” in the adjacent room.

That was the jolt to my system that I needed after two nights of revelry in downtown Hotlanta!

I made my way to the table and chatted, briefly, with each coach. Hog Heaven!

My conversation with Coach Tuberville consisted, partially, of thanks for his time in The Loveliest Village. I told him that we miss him, and what we really, REALLY miss is his defense. ( He brought up the six-game winning streak over Alabama). 😉

The fact-of-the-matter is, we haven’t had a good defense since Thomas Hawley Tuberville patrolled the sidelines at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Humor me. Here are the the defensive stats, total yards and points per game, since Tubs departed Auburn.

2010 368.4 ypg and 24.07 ppg (and remember, Auburn won the National Championship Game that year with Nick Fairley and company on D)
2011 408.0 ypg and 28.9 ppg
2012 420.5 ypg and 28.3 ppg
2013 420.7 ypg and 24.7 ppg (played for the Natty)
2014 398.8 ypg and 26.7 ppg
2015 421.8 ypg and 27.3 ppg

That’s grim, folks.

But take heart! We’re not Kansas! (561 ypg and 46.1 ppg) Mercy!

Tuberville’s best D was in 2004 with Gene Chizik as defensive coordinator-273 ypg and 11.3 ppg.

Yes, O defense, where art thou?

So, where do we go from here? First of all is the hiring of a good defensive coordinator. One of the first names to surface is Charles Kelly, the DC at Florida State. He played for Auburn and finished in 1990. He would be a good one. We shall see.

And then there’s the matter of the upcoming bowl game. It ain’t far folks! Get your tickets and head to Birmingham to support the Tigers! Gus Malzahn is at a critical juncture in his tenure at Auburn and needs all hands-on-deck.

Auburn’s opponent, as most of you know, is Memphis. Tigers vs. Tigers. It should be a dandy! (We miss you, Keith Jackson!)

The practice time Auburn gets to prepare for this contest is valuable. Muschamp will not coach the defense, obviously, as he has taken the head coach position at South Carolina. It would be nice to get someone on board to familiarize himself with his future talent on defense.

One reason Auburn struggled on defense in 2015 is the offense. It was nowhere near Gus Malzahn standards. That HUNH has not been hurrying and, last season, it didn’t score points as it has in past years under Malzahn. THAT MUST CHANGE!

I wrote, a couple of weeks back, that these are the times that try men’s souls. They absolutely are that.

The past is the past.

It is what it is.

The time is now.

And now is the time for all good fans to come to the aid of their football team.

Stay tuned, folks. Good, bad, or indifferent, there are some interesting times in front of us.

But, in closing, let me say this. If the other team can’t score, they have no chance to win the football game. That 11.3 ppg would be fantastic, but those days are a distant memory. Gone with the wind, if you will. I will “settle” for something under 20 ppg. 😉

O defense, where art thou?