Thoughts on @AUTigerBaseball and Game 17. #WarEagle

Auburn Tiger Baseball
Auburn Tiger Baseball

Game 17, Auburn vs Coppin State. Jordan-Hare Stadium is always looming large in the background over Plainsman Park. Majestic concrete pillars hibernating until fall with one reprieve in April, A-Day, coming soon. It is always the giant in the room, the most powerful, with the most money, the biggest following, and a stadium that changes the landscape of the state 8 to 10 times a year.

Plainsman Park, however, providing 35-ish games at prices the average person in Auburn can afford, offers something football can’t, accessibility. On this particular day I am sitting, more like bathing, in the beautiful sunshine of an afternoon in the south in March. An almost-hot day at the park (did I mention it’s March), where the temp says 69° but really feels more like 80-85° in the sun.

I had no time at all today to get the lineup and score the game as I normally would. My last meeting of the day ended about an hour ago, so there was just enough time to make it to the park and enjoy the setting. Scoring is but just one of the countless aspects that makes baseball unique, poetic. The ability to score the game is as much an art form as are the many combinations of Auburn Baseball uniforms, but it really helps in learning the game. Today Auburn is wearing their home orange jersey and white pants with Coppin is wearing a Auburn-blue like jersey with gray pants.

3:30:05 PM

Unfortunately Kevin Davis (#12) only lasted pitching 1 full inning and was taken out in the top of the 2nd with no outs. Coppin scored 1 run in the top of the first after he walked three batters, then walked another in the 2nd. Replaced by Jakob Nixon (#8) with 2 men on base and no outs. Then in the bottom of the 2nd Blake Logan (#1) hit a 3 run homer over the green monster. The homer had to go at least 350′-360′ over the Bosox-like fence.

This is one of these lazy day games where the sun is just warm enough, especially for this time of year, to allow for a relaxed crowd. Deborah is knitting, and it is quiet enough to clearly hear the sounds of the game, along with various conversations of people nearby. Although the sound of the aluminum bat just is not quite the same as the MLB wood, it still creates this echoing ripple off the green monster and athletic dorms over right field.

Our world class heckler is here and attentive as always. His job is to make sure the pitcher for Coppin (or any away team that arrives not expecting a thinking fan crowd) does not get away with anything, and ensures he is rattled as much as any away pitcher could be by a comedian drill Sargent. Our season ticket neighbor came today, along with the normal “retired” season ticket holders. A lady on the stairs walking up into our section came within perhaps an inch of getting beaned in the head with a foul ball, and did not even notice. Quite fascinating how someone can come that close injury and not even know it happened.

The crowd here couldn’t be more local, and the visitors have virtually no fans attending today. I love this crowd, and much of it has to do with baseball itself. They are as calm as the pace of the game. Middle class retirees mixed with University staff, and students with an excuse to skip class on a beautiful day. In other words, those who love baseball.

Top of the 5th inning now and Auburn seems to have this one well in hand. Coppin had to take their starting pitcher out after he was hit by a hard line drive in the ankle (they needed to take him out anyway). Auburn now has a 8-2 lead off 8 hits and 0 errors. What a beautiful game.

Samford Hall Before Auburn vs Clemson in My 41st Season

Samford Hall Auburn University
Samford Hall on Auburn University

I’m not sure there are any new and unique ways to shoot Samford Hall on Auburn University, but I keep looking for them just the same. This was a new shot for me, sitting in my car stopped on College (very briefly), I took this shot out the window of my car. It’s such an iconic shot to me, and it has been photographed for so many decades that you almost get nostalgic walking across the lawn thinking about how many have stood here before. As Deborah and I walked across the lawn for lunch yesterday, I realized I love it now not because it represents football, or tradition, but because represents where I’m from, it’s where I live and work. In a southern college town in Alabama.

Tomorrow of course starts the insanity that is NCAA College Football, and somehow, I will be there in Atlanta when Auburn kicks off against #14 ranked Clemson. It starts off my 41st season as an Auburn football fan (see my 40th and photo outtakes), and each one has been unique, and memorable to some extent. This year, my favorite off-season football day had to be the unveiling of Auburn’s Heisman Trophy Winner Statues for Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton, or Chizik and Trooper talking to the players along with the other shots of the players coming out of the tunnel for Aday 2012. I didn’t take my camera into too many games last year so I wouldn’t be hassled by the camera mafia as I walked into Jordan-Hare, but I did still get some shots representative of each home game last year, and that’s probably going to be plan this year. As Auburn makes it harder and harder to bring in cameras I’m left with take iPhone cell phone camera shots, but that’s ok, I tend to enjoy the games better anyway, plus I’ve found the iPhone to be one of the best point-n-shoot cameras around.

War Eagle everyone. I’m looking forward to a fun and exciting football season as always, see you on Twitter tomorrow from Atlanta (@scottfillmer), I’ll be sure to send out a few Instagram shots from inside the Georgia Dome.

Auburn's Chizik and Trooper Talk to the Players Before Aday 2012
Auburn’s Chizik and Trooper Talk to the Players Before Aday 2012

Auburn Tigers Football A-Day Game Photos For 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Today was the annual crazy-day game where we play ourselves, called the Auburn A-Day Game. Of course just about every school has a spring game where the offense plays the defense, it just seems to get bigger and bigger as the years go by. Today we had over 43,427 people at this game where we played ourselves, a game in which Coach Chizik said “numerical values meant little — if not nothing.” Makes me wonder (every single year)… why… but, it’s Auburn football, and there are very few chances to get into Jordan-Hare Stadium and take photos of crazy people (myself included since obviously I was at this “game”). I feel sort of obligated to go now since I have 4 years of A-Day Game posts on my blog, and I wouldn’t want to cull a blog mini-series of mine like the A-Day Game.

As Ryan Wood wrote for the Opelika-Auburn News on the game, “I wouldn’t look and pay attention to any of the stats today,” said Chizik, who barely glanced at the sheet in front of him for the 10 minutes he spent with the media. “It was different guys in there with different personnel groupings, and mix and match players. I wouldn’t read into any stats that you may see, good or bad.” But, that just means that keep stats for this game? Seriously? OK, I guess we keep stats on everything these days, and why not, the number of data points that we can capture at any given event now is bordering on the incomprehensible.

One interesting thing that did take place yesterday was the unavailing of three statues of Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winners, Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton. I have photos of the new statues, but I think I am going to post them in a separate blog post, after all, they did win the Heisman, they probably deserve their own post. I do find it kind of interesting that after something like 100 years of football we have now joined Alabama in memorializing our gladiators in the form of gigantic bronze statues that would make the Greek gods proud. I guess I can no longer make fun of Bama’s statue of Bear Bryant or Nick Saban and the like, oh well.

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012 Marching Band Drums

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012 Marching Band Trumpets

Auburn Tigers Aday Game 2012

Gene Chizik of Auburn is Volcanic on Google Trends

So this is basically old news now, Gene Chizik is now the new Auburn Tigers head coach we have all been waiting on now for about 2 weeks.  I almost felt obligated to post something about the new head coach living here in Auburn, after all, how often do we welcome a new head coach for the football program (that was a rhetorical question only).  It didn’t even take a rumor from ESPN to start the endless grumblings and he even had people how up at the airport for his arrival, and not in the same way Nick Saban was greeted by Alabama fans (though he really does seem popular with the players and coaches).   I was totally willing to give the guy a chance and let him actually land in Auburn before nailing him to a cross.  He was the defensive coordinator for Auburn (and a popular one), was part of the undefeated team, won a national championship at Texas, then… Iowa.

How hot was and is this topic.  Well according to Google, “volcanic“, and this was on a night that was competing with the Heisman Trophy of all things.  Several times within the 12 hours before and after he hit the #1 search term on google (and I am not sure how much higher you can go on google as far as hot topics than volcano), and after a full 24 hours of the news he is still sitting at #7.  To bad google hot topic trends doesn’t count in the BCS rankings.  Of course, that really tells me that a whole bunch of people had never heard of Chizik and had no idea who Auburn had just named to be the next head coach.

Gene Chizik on Google Trends

I really hope he doesn’t read a lot of blogs and online media.  I started looking around at the usual suspects and the overall negative tone was deafening.  Really my only question is if Chizik is the person to lead Auburn football back to a National Championship (it has been over 50 years of course).  Auburn football should be up in the top-tier of NCAA football teams right up there with Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Penn State, and of course Alabama.   So why did we not go get the biggest name that money could buy?

Maybe money really doesn’t buy happiness, or 12 wins and a National Championship (just ask Alabama, they came real close).  Auburn had to pay about $750,000 to buy Chizik out of Iowa State, and apparently Iowa State is basically thanking Auburn for taking him off their hands.  Now really, I know he didn’t win a game in the big 12 but what kind of recruits can you get in Iowa State when you have to compete with Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, and the big Nebraska?  Still, he has landed in Auburn and he will be the next head coach.  If Auburn wins football games next year everyone will sing Jay Jacobs praises, but the Auburn fan base expects wins, and not just five.

I am willing to trust the higher-ups at Auburn and give Chizik the chance Auburn is willing to take.  He apparently visited our church when he was living here as the defensive coordinator, so maybe he will come join us for worship again.  I know he will be welcomed the same as anyone else on Sunday mornings.  We can all have an opinion but no one at Auburn wants to win football games more than the kids, the coaches, and the University itself.  I have to think that somehow, they think this will be the way to do it come the fall of 2009.  Hopefully he and his family can withstand the pressure until that first kickoff game in 2009, it is a long way off.

Auburn vs Georgia in Final Football Game Photos of 2008

Auburn vs Georgia Mario Fannin Touchdown

The game was much better than I would guess many expected, but Auburn had a chance to win the game at the end with 15 seconds to go on the 14 yard line with 3 plays to punch it in and just couldn’t do it (see AP story).  No help from the refs in this game and all there is left of the 2008 season is the Auburn vs Alabama game on November 29th.

Here are some of the photos from the game today.  I am in the process of uploading the remainder to my gallery.  You can check the Auburn vs Georgia 2008 gallery later today and it should be completed some time tonight.  In the mean time, here are 4 photos from today’s game vs Georgia.  The one shot below is Mario Fannin scoring the first touchdown of the game as he dives into the endzone.  I just love this shot of Mario Fannin who is so focused on the end zone that you can just feel his momentum.

Auburn vs Georgia 2008 Football

Auburn vs Georgia 2008 Football

Auburn vs Georgia 2008 Football

It seemed like a long season this year, and at this point the program can probably use a break.  I hope to see Tommy Tubberville back next year but this was a tough season for any coach.

Lee Corso Picks Auburn on ESPN College GameDay

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

I am running from Gameday and back to Jordan-Hare for the game itself.  Of course all plans can go away quickly, as I was going to post several shots here from ESPN Gameday in between the broadcast and the game.  Once I got back to my office and started transferring the files one of my cards got corrupted, which happens to be all the final images where Corso put on the Auburn helmet (which apparently he was miffed about because Auburn would not allow him to have Aubie’s head).  So, here are a few from this morning… plenty more to come once I recover the lost files.

Additional Gameday images can be found on the ESPN College Gameday Gallery.  Hopefully tonight I will get some good shots of Toomer’s corner after an Auburn victory.

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

ESPN College GameDay Photos Live from Auburn University

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

ESPN today began broadcasting for ESPN Sports Center from the Auburn campus and did all the prep work for the live ESPN College Gameday broadcast from 9-11am CT on tomorrow (Saturday).  Setup is pretty much the same as it was two years ago, along with a barricade around the entire Allison Physics Lab lawn.  The barricade is large enough to fit 4 full 18-wheeler satellite trucks and trailers, a huge Home Depot Gameday Bus, the set, a mini football field, all the employees cars, and an uncounted number of tents of all kinds.

Photos of Gameday Setup and Sports Center Broadcast

Here are a few images of the day.  I will be posting all Gameday images in the ESPN Gameday Gallery if you want to see additional images from the two days.  The photo of the people watching The Home Depot bus is a little weird, I am not sure I could look at my face printed that large on an object, but there they are.

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

ESPN Gameday taping of Sports Center in Auburn

Auburn Students Told Sportsmanship is Important

Earlier in the week Dr. Green, the Dean of Students, sent an email to all Auburn students reminding them to show good sportsmanship.  Since this has been made public by all the papers and ESPN themselves I thought I would make note of it myself of course.  This was really much to do about nothing, and Dr. Green is certainly correct in his statement, but… is it not really quite ridiculous that it was even necessary to send an email like this in the first place (see below).  But, those are the times we live in I guess.  A few years ago you would never have heard anyone booing their own team in Auburn, but such was the case recently (and as of right now we are undefeated).  Nothing seems to be private any more and this email surfaced on the Internet within hours of its release (several days ago at this point).

Dear Auburn Student,

I wanted to remind each of you about the importance of your support for our team and displaying character this weekend when L.S.U. fans and other guests arrive this weekend. First, please join me by agreeing to demonstrate your support for, and not criticism of, our football team. That means no booing! Remember, the team isn’t trying to lose the game the players work hard all spring and during fall camp to be ready to compete in the S.E.C. Let’s show our appreciation for their hard work by encouraging them with loads enthusiasm! Secondly, help me show the world what I get to experience everyday: that Auburn men and women are special, dedicated, loyal, fun loving, bleed orange and blue, are compassionate, and demonstrate good will to others, even our competitors.

ESPN Game Day will be in town this weekend and we need everyone to come out and show them how much we support our team. Let’s show Chris Fowler, Kirk Hebstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard true fan support and loyalty for Auburn!

The nation will be watching the next two weeks (ESPN, CBS next week), and lets remember to have a great time, enjoy the weekend’s activities, watch our language and behavior, and display class, taste, and character in everything we do. I have every confidence you will.

War Eagle!!

Dr. Johnny Green, ’85
Office of the Dean of Students
Suite 3248
Auburn University Student Center
Auburn Univ., AL 36849

With that email in mind, the turn out today for the ESPN taping of Sport Center was great.  For a 5-7 minute take, students stood outside in the blazing sun for at least 3-4 hours to wait for that 5 minute spot with a ton of signs, and hats off to the maker of the “Priceless” sign, that one was probably the most creative out there this afternoon.  There should be plenty of students out there this time, even if they do have the students a football field away from the gameday set.

ESPN College GameDay Broadcast Live from Auburn

ESPN College Gameday Studio in Auburn

I was on campus tonight for Encounter (see Encounter Performs Live in the Auburn Student Activities Center for their previous performance) and I had to stop by the set for ESPN College Gameday.  If you are a football fan and you can’t get excited about this game, something is wrong.  ESPN is all setup and ready to go, the satellite trucks are all over campus, and the students in the sororities and fraternities are doing there part as well (see photos below).

If you look close at the ESPN set, you will see I am looking at the back side of it, with a steady stream of barricades all the way around it.  Getting a shot of the FRONT of the set might not be as easy as I thought it was going to be.  Hopefully there will be some access to the front, although there is a nice ravine in front of the set, which will make for some nice shots from underneath the booth.  We will see tomorrow I guess.

Auburn Students Put up Signs for Gameday

Auburn Students Put up Signs for Gameday

ESPN College GameDay Comes to Auburn for LSU

King Dunlap Warms up Before the 2006 LSU Game

ESPN College GameDay is coming back to Auburn for the Auburn vs LSU game on Saturday, September 20, 2008.  This will be the first time that ESPN’s traveling show will be in Auburn since the Auburn vs Florida game in 2006 when the Auburn Tigers beat the Florida Gators 27-17.   Auburn vs LSU is always a great, nail biting game, and this year, Auburn will welcome ESPN commentators Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard as they setup shop, presumably just outside Jordan-Hare stadium, where they will broadcast live from 9-11am local CT.

Some Auburn ESPN College Game Day Facts

From Auburn pre-game reportESPN’s College GameDay Built by Home Depot featuring Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard will be in Auburn this weekend for the Auburn-LSU game. It will mark the fifth visit to Auburn by the GameDay crew, which last visited for the 2006 Auburn-Florida game. Auburn also hosted GameDay for the 1995 Iron Bowl, a 1997 game against Florida and a 2004 game against Georgia. GameDay was scheduled to be at the Auburn-LSU game on Sept. 18, 2004, but the threat of Hurricane Ivan forced the show to be relocated.

It will be the ninth time that Auburn has played in GameDay’s on-site game. The Tigers are 5-3 in GameDay contests, including a 3-1 mark at home.

Listed are Auburn’s all-time appearances on GameDay.

Date Result Game (Site)
Sept. 16, 2006 W, 27-17 vs. Florida (Auburn)
Dec. 4, 2004 W, 38-28 vs. Tennessee (Atlanta)
Nov. 13, 2004 W, 24-6 vs. Georgia (Auburn)
Oct. 2, 2004 W, 34-10 at Tennessee (Knoxville)
Oct. 18, 1997 L, 10-24 vs. Florida (Auburn)
Nov. 23, 1996 L, 23-24 vs. Alabama (B’ham)
Nov. 18, 1995 W, 31-27 vs. Alabama (Auburn)
Nov. 19, 1994 L, 14-21 vs. Alabama (B’ham)

College GameDay 2006, Auburn vs Florida

Back in 2006 we were living in Colorado and I flew into Atlanta from Denver for the football game against Florida.  Although Les Corso has not always seen Auburn orange and blue in the past, that weekend I did get  to sit down with Corso for a short while and discuss the finer points of Auburn football. It is always exciting to have ESPN GameDay in Auburn and that year was no exception.  2006 was one of those crazy seasons where everyone was mumbling about the BCS ranking system and, especially here in Auburn, people were wondering how we were all going to get our fair shake at the BCS title.  We ended up loosing two games, Georgia and Arkansas but did beat LSU (photos below) and went on to the Cotton Bowl that year.

At that time, I had already spoken with many people throughout the years who had run into Les Corso (and some of the Game Day crew) and their stories varied wildly.  Of course I ran into Corso not at the game, but early Sunday morning in the Atlanta airport on my way through security, and shared a train ride to the gate with him.  I doubt I will share the same ride this year since I now live in Auburn, but I never believed all those nasty rumors about you anyway Lee (haha), and I enjoyed our 10-15 minute conversation together.

My only regret was not bringing my camera equipment to Auburn with me for GameDay.  Well not this year. This year I will be right in the thick of it with my camera equipment to bring the first blog photos of ESPN College GameDay on September 20th from here in Auburn.  So if you are interested, come back here between the end of GameDay and the start of the LSU game on Saturday (some time between 12noon and 4pm CT) for some photos of the broadcast.

Auburn vs LSU is always dramatic fun, and having ESPN GameDay back in Auburn will only add to the excitement.  The photos shown above were taken from the last Auburn vs LSU home game in 2006 when Auburn won 7-3, not much unlike last week vs Mississippi State.  The last shot, towering over the line, was #77 King Dunlap during pre-game warm up (yes my one and only [so far] field appearance on the sidelines).

I am looking forward to the ESPN crew coming down to the plains and I hope everyone makes Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard all feel welcome here in Auburn, even if Corso does pull out a big yellow and purple tiger head at the end.  If he does, I will post the photo right here for all to see.

See you back here on Saturday, go Tigers (Auburn that is).

Football Auburn vs LSU 2006

LSU Faithful at the 2006 Auburn vs LSU Game