Roll Tigers! Auburn looking to pad historical title résumé

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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.”

Arkansas moving back to natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in 2019

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It’s a new era at Arkansas with Chad Morris and a new athletic director in charge and not even the turf will be spared from seeing changes.

Per the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the school will be moving to a natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium instead of replacing their current artificial turf again as it nears the end of its lifespan.

“Let me say my preference is I love natural grass,” Morris told the paper a few months ago. “That’s just me. Maybe that’s just the high school coach in me.

“Worrying about what the next surface out here looks like is irrelevant to me. I just want to get through a practice and get better today. But I prefer, I’m a natural grass type of guy. I love being on a grass field. There’s nothing better than that in college football, or football period.”

Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek confirmed this weekend that the change was being made in Fayetteville after the 2018 season concludes. The current turf was put in back in the Bobby Petrino era in 2009 and will need to be replaced after a decade or so of heavy use.

This will not be the end of Razorbacks playing on turf however, as they will not only see the stuff for games at neutral sites and at other SEC opponents but also when they make their annual trek to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock — which had turf installed a dozen years ago.

West Virginia President on old Big 12 expansion craze: “It was a little bit messy”

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E. Gordon Gee is one of college athletics’ most recognizable figures, which isn’t exactly what you typically say about school leaders like him. The West Virginia President known for his trademark bow tie (and who has never shied away from an interview or a quip he didn’t like) is on the cusp of his first set of spring meetings in the conference as the new chairman of the Big 12 board of directors.

Speaking to the Dallas Morning News about a range of issues around the league prior to meeting in Dallas, Gee seems to have come around on conference expansion from a few years ago and thinks it not only could have been handled better, but it probably shouldn’t be done in the first place because being the smallest Power Five league has its advantages too.

“I’m not certain it was the best way to do it,” Gee told the paper. “It was a little bit messy — and I was part of the mess.

“Intimacy gives us an opportunity to do something that a lot of other places can’t do… We’ll play to our strengths. We’re small, but we can be very aggressive in positioning ourselves uniquely.”

I’m sure the folks at places like Houston and BYU would agree the entire process was messy but will certainly disagree with Gee about the Big 12 sticking with just 10 members. It certainly sounds as though the issue has been put to bed for the foreseeable future but if the merry-go-round gets going once again, at least we know that the process everybody goes through will be a lot different.

College Football Hall of Fame adds title sponsor

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The College Football Hall of Fame is no longer the College Football Hall of Fame. Well, it is, but it isn’t.

It’s still a massive museum dedicated to honoring our nation’s greatest sport, but it will no longer be known by that name. The Atlanta-based Hall has added a title sponsor, and it’s the same corporation that sponsors everything else college football within Atlanta, from the Peach Bowl to Paul Johnson‘s sock drawer (presumably) — Chick-fil-A.

The new name and logo was unveiled Thursday.

As of press time, there was no word on if the first 100,000 CFT readers will receive a free 12-pack of nuggets upon entry.

Report: Cannabis oil not the reason C.J. Harris denied walk-on opportunity at Auburn

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A major brouhaha broke out on social media last last week when it was reported that C.J. Harris was denied by the NCAA an opportunity to walk-on at Auburn because of his prescription for cannabis oil, which he uses to prevent epileptic seizures. Harris claims to be seizure free since January 2017 thanks to the medication.

“After Auburn coaches and staff took a second look at his medical records, they told Harris’ father Curtis that his son could not compete in NCAA athletics while he was taking cannabis oil,” reported WGXA-TV, which broke the story.

“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” Curtis Harris, the player’s father, said. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

But according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover, the story is more complicated than that. A source told Marcello that it was Auburn’s doctors, and not NCAA rules, that will prevent Harris from suiting up for the Tigers. Writes Marcello:

Auburn’s team physician did not clear Harris due to the pre-existing medical conditions, a source close to the Auburn football program said. The Auburn medical staff was concerned about the epilepsy and wanted to protect his well being in a full-contact sport that could lead to head trauma, the source said.

That information will not stop people from ripping on the NCAA, however, largely because it’s fun to rip on the NCAA.

But the Harris situation is a flashpoint in a larger cultural issue. Public opinion on marijuana is changing — 61 percent of Americans believe it should be legal, according to a Pew Research poll in January, an increase from 57 percent in 2017 and a massive leap from the 31 percent who thought the same in 2000 — and cannabis is already legal for purchase on a medical basis in 29 states. And the opinion of Auburn’s doctors doesn’t change the fact Harris would still be ineligible under current NCAA rules.

However, the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has discussed “medical marijuana and CBD products at recent meetings” and will do so again at its next gathering in June, according to SB Nation. The Harris situation — and the subsequent public reaction — should be a a topic of conversation.