Auburn’s A-Day was noteworthy for a few reasons, as it marked the return of former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn as the team’s new head coach to get a stumbling program back on track. The Tigers’ spring game also saw a record crowd of 83,401 in attendance. Based on pictures taken throughout the day, that number didn’t look to be an exaggeration at all.
But today was also memorable for a more somber reason: following the spring game, fans made their way to Toomer’s Corner to roll the oak trees one last time before their removal this week. Though the exact number of people in attendance isn’t known, it was a tremendous showing.
The trees at the famous spot have been dying since Harvey Updyke Jr. poisoned them over two years ago following the 2010 Iron Bowl. Updyke was recently sentenced to three years after changing his plea to guilty for a charge of criminal damage of an agricultural facility. He will spend the next five months incarcerated.
“There’s more to Auburn than two oak trees, revered and sturdy as they are,” retired athletic director David Housel said. “These oak trees are but an outward visible symbol of the Auburn heart. … This is a day of celebration and remembrance.”
Auburn is currently in the beginning stages of planning a redevelopment project intended to maintain the “historical character of the corner.” Additionally, the soil around the trees is still be tested for herbicides.
Designers revealed the new mock-up for the future site today. The primary difference will be the addition of more wall seating and a tree-lined path into Samford Park. Auburn expects to complete construction on the new design before the start of the 2014 football season. Th0ugh more significant changes were considered, it was decided there were “not how the Auburn Family wanted to go.”
A temporary structure for rolling after victories should be ready before the start of this season.
We’ll have more from Auburn’s spring game in a SEC wrap-up post later today.
(Hat tip: al.com)
Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.
With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future. The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.
Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.
At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas. The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.
Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels. He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.
Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.
The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August. The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.
From the site’s report:
The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.
The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”
At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations. Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.