Roll Tigers! Auburn looking to pad historical title résumé

27 Comments

Despite losing out to Florida State in the final BCS title game earlier this month, Auburn could be flying a handful of new banners at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the very near future.  Or, at the very least, recognizing a handful more than they currently do.

Officially, the Tigers claim two football national championships: 1957 and 2010.  Unofficially, AU could, as other schools do — hello, Alabama — claim multiple “unofficial” titles.

Utilizing the “all the cool universities are doing it” line of reasoning, AU athletic director Jay Jacobs confirmed that the football program is indeed considering recognizing seven additional national championships in football.

“If other schools are using these same polls to declare a national championship, we should at least consider it,” Jacobs told AuburnUndercover.com. “I don’t think there’s a better time for the Auburn family to consider it than right here at the end of the BCS era.

“As we transition into another playoff format for the national champion, I just think we need to look hard at it.”

The 1910, 1913, 1914, 1958, 1983, 1993 and 2004 teams, the 247Sports.com website notes, are all under consideration.  Three of those title teams — 1913, 1983 and 1993 — are recognized by the NCAA in its record book, although not through either the Associated Press or coaches’ poll.  The unbeaten 1913 team was named national champion by six organizations (Chicago and Harvard also claim titles for that year), the one-loss 1983 team by 10 (Miami was the AP, FWAA and UPI champ) and the undefeated 1993 team by four (Florida State was the AP, FWAA and UPI champ).

The most noteworthy of the seven under consideration, and the one that would likely cause the most debate, is the 2004 team.  The Tigers that year finished the season as unbeaten SEC champions; unfortunately for AU, there were two other Big Five conference teams — USC and Oklahoma — that went undefeated as well.  The Trojans and Sooners finished one-two in the final regular season BCS standings that year and met in the Orange Bowl in the seventh BCS title game.  Because of NCAA sanctions stemming from the Reggie Bush controversy, however, USC was forced to vacate the title for the 2004 season, with the NCAA officially recognizing no one as that year’s champion.

A book published in 2012 and written by Birmingham attorney Michael Skotnicki laid out the case for his alma mater to claim many more football titles than they already do.  In an interview with 247Sports.com, Skotnicki gave several examples of other football programs padding its football résumé, including two from the SEC.

“Texas A&M decided upon entering the SEC that they would add the 1919 and 1927 titles,” Skotnicki said. “Minnesota added the 1904 title last summer. USC added the 1939 title in 2004. Ole Miss claims three national titles and not one is AP, Coaches’ Poll or BCS.

“Why should Auburn be any different? In this day and age, why should Auburn be so stuffy about it?”

Left unmentioned was Auburn’s hated in-state rival.  Alabama claims 15 national championships, 10 of which came from the Associated Press, coaches’ poll or, in seven seasons, both.  The other five are pre-World War II titles added to the team’s media guide in the eighties.

While not mentioning their Iron Bowl rival specifically, Jacobs made it clear that if it’s good enough for other programs, it’s good enough for his.

“We’re so competitive. We compare ourselves to other schools,” Jacobs, who played on the ’83 team that’s under consideration for title recognition, said. “If they’re counting something that we’re not counting, and we’re on equal footing, wouldn’t it be wise to count it?

“I think it’s something we need to consider right now. It’s been talked about here and there, but let’s get it out there now and look at it and see what we should do.”

Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis potentially out for spring

Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.

“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”

It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.

In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.

Penn State announces three captains for 2017 season

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Penn State just about to get started with spring football practices, head coach James Franklin wasted no time in naming his captains for the 2017 season. Quarterback Trace McSorley, linebacker Jason Cabinda, and safety Nick Scott have been voted captains by their peers on the team.

“These three young men have been leaders in our program, on and off the field,” Franklin said in a released statement. “They live our four core values and act with the program’s best interest in mind. Our team is in good hands with these guys!”

McSorley took over the offense as Penn State’s starting quarterback in 2016. A bit of a mystery to most entering the season after being the backup to Christian Hackenberg, McSorley ended his 2016 season with a Big Ten-leading 3,614 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes with eight interceptions and played a key role in guiding Penn State to a late run to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl. He enters the 2017 season as one of the top quarterbacks returning to the Big Ten, along with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.

Cabinda, an All-Big Ten third team player in 2016, was Penn State’s third-leading tackler last season with 81 tackles. He accumulated that many tackles despite missing five games due to injury. He is slated to be the leader in the middle of the Penn State defense with a starting role already locked down and will look to help guide some younger linebackers stepping into key roles in the defense this upcoming season, such as Manny Bowen and Koa Farmer.

Scott has been a special teams leader for Penn State and is expected to continue to lead the special teams effort once again this season.

New Arkansas house bill will allow some concealed guns at football games

Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images
7 Comments

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill regarding a person’s ability to carry a concealed handgun into various buildings at a public university or college into state law. However, House Bill 1249 will not allow all legal gun owners to carry a gun to a football game in the state of Arkansas.

Football games will be considered a “sensitive area,” which require enhanced training in order to be allowed to carry a gun into a football stadium. The law supposedly trumps any provisions already in place to prevent guns from being allowed on the premises.

“The enhanced level of training is very important, and I am convinced the public will be more safe,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This bill, in my view, reflects the view of the general assembly.”

The bill has received praise from Arkansas Republican state representative Charlie Collins and the NRA.

While the bill has now become an act in the state, it will not go into effect until January 2018, so guns will still not be allowed in football games where Arkansas, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, or Central Arkansas during the 2017 season.

The news of the new Arkansas state law comes on the same day the SEC has just unveiled a new clear bag policy for football games in the 2017 season. How the SEC handles this latest state law within its footprint remains to be seen (as well as the Sun Belt Conference). The bigger question will be where the SEC stands on this law considered the law is designed to overrule any stadium policies. The way the law is written, the SEC may not be able to do much to stand in the way, but the conference has those clear bag policies hammered down, rest assured.

Kentucky hands Mark Stoops a two-year contract extension

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After guiding Kentucky through its best season in nearly a decade, Mark Stoops has been rewarded.

Kentucky announced Wednesday afternoon that Stoops’ contract has been extended by two years.  The head coach’s previous deal had been set to run through June 30, 2020; the extension pushes that date out to June 30, 2020.

Stoops will earn $3.5 million in 2017, with the new contract calling for annual $250,000 raises.  In the last year of the contract extension, and barring any additional tweaking, Stoops could earn $4.75 million.

Additionally, if the Wildcats win at least seven games but no more than nine in a season, the contract automatically extends by one year.  If the team wins 10-plus games, it extends by two years. “Stoops will continue to receive $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season and $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher,” the release stated.

Participation in an SEC-affiliated bowl will net Stoops a $100,000 bonus, provided the Wildcats win at least six games that season.  There’s also a $50,000 bonus for earning a spot in a non-SEC bowl game, with the same six-win threshold.  Last season, UK qualified for a bowl game for the first time under Stoops and the first time under anyone since 2010.

“The last four years have been a grind for Mark and his staff, but he has never wavered in his commitment to building Kentucky football into a consistent winner,” a statement from athletic director Mitch Barnhart began. “While the work isn’t close to finished, we believe Mark is the coach to take us there. We are thankful to Mark and Chantel for all they have done to this point and we look forward to our program’s bright future under his leadership.”

The Wildcats’ 7-6 record last season was the program’s best since hitting the same mark in the last season under Rich Brooks in 2009.  The first three seasons with Stoops in control, UK posted a 12-24 mark.

In SEC play, they are just 8-24 since 2013, although they were 4-4 in conference play this past season.  The Wildcats have finished seventh (2013), sixth (2014), tied-fourth (2015) and tied-second (2016) in league play with Stoops as head coach.

“I want to thank Dr. (Eli) Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and the Board of Trustees for their continued support,” Stoops said. “When we came here, doing a rebuild in a challenging situation, I said that full support from everyone involved was imperative and we have always received that. We needed great commitment, we’ve had great commitment and we’re continuing to get great commitment.”

If Stoops is fired by UK, he’s entitled to receive 75 percent of the remaining guaranteed compensation on the contract.  If Stoops leaves of his own accord, he’d owe the university $1 million regardless of how many years are left on the deal.