When you live deep in the heart of SEC country, there’s no way around it…summer sucks (sorry, mom. I know you don’t like that word, but there really isn’t anything else that quite captures the absolute crappiness of the summer). It’s hot. It’s humid. There’s no football.

Ah… and that’s the real problem, isn’t it? There’s no football. And to paraphrase Bill Murray in “Scrooged”… when there’s no football…THERE’S NO FOOTBALL!!

Like it or not, football drives the bus, as they say. And here in Auburn, that’s certainly true. Not that the Auburn Family doesn’t enjoy and support other sports, but we all know the reality of the situation: football is king. Even the other coaches on campus get that. So when football is absent, we throw ourselves into all the other sports. But when the school year ends, and the college sports season comes to a close, our attention turns to other pursuits. We travel. We do yard work. We visit with family. You know… all those things that we don’t have to do when football is around. And those things are just not all that fun. Mix in the fact that this summer feels not unlike what one might expect to experience on Mars, only with all the moisture of nice, soaked sponge, and you have a recipe for misery.

Sure, it will still be hot and humid when Auburn football kicks off against Georgia Southern that first weekend in September, but at least we will have said football to distract us!

The absence of football is made worse by the fact that Auburn hasn’t had a great run recently. There’s a bad taste that Auburn fans desperately want rinsed out. A palate that needs cleansing, if you will. And this year looks to be pretty good, with the odds of the Tigers making it to the College Football Playoffs currently sitting at 7/1. Not bad for a team that won 2 conference games just 2 years ago.

So there is a lot of buzz. A lot of excitement. Very high expectations. Which normally makes Auburn fans nervous, but again, this year feels different. So maybe that’s ok.

All I know is that it’s hot. It’s humid. I’m bored, and I am ready for some football.

Summer sucks without it.

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Hey Greg? Need A Favor…

by Rich on July 17, 2017

While taking a break this week from the continuous stream of The Office that never seems to end at my home (I have a 17 year old son. He’s on his 10th time through the series. Thanks Netflix), I scanned through the upper, triple digit channels from my local cable provider and was somewhat startled to discover that we are smack dab in the middle of the The Tour de France (TDF). Who knew? I mean, other than the Europeans and Lance Armstrong? One of most grueling endurance events to be held on the planet is underway, and I didn’t even know. How does that happen?

I am of an age where I actually remember Greg Lemond on the cover of Sports Illustrated. That’s a thing that happened. In our current post-Lance Armstrong world, that may not seem significant, but in 1989 it was. An American! Winning the TDF! Beating the Europeans at their own game! It was incredible! Most of us had only maybe heard of the TDF. Sure, we all loved Breaking Away (sidebar: what a cast! Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Dennis Christopher, Jackie Earle Haley? Seriously, you recognize EVERYBODY in this movie! If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor. Amazing. But I digress…). So we kind of knew about this thing that had been going on for the last 85 years or so, but we didn’t REALLY know it. And then we did. In a big way! And we owned it. And everybody wore those little cycling caps to school and talked about Greg Lemond teaching those nasty Euros a thing or two. But then doping.

But here’s the thing… I want to like it again. Do I want it clean? Maybe. Or maybe I just want a level playing field. I mean, have you seen the course? It’s 2200 miles long. That’s like riding a bike from L.A. to Detroit. (Or Detroit to L.A., if you are clearer headed). So, maybe instead of no performance enhancing drugs, we just declare that, unless the DEA will arrest you for it, anything goes? I mean, let’s face it, no sane, normal human would do this without help. Heck, I DROVE from Phoenix to Atlanta and had to slam three 5Hr Energy drinks. These guys are on a BIKE!

And it’s not like the sport was once puritanical and then got dirty somewhere along the way. Virtually right off the bat there were guys using some kind of PED. Back then it was ether and alcohol to dull the pain. Then it was amphetamines to give them energy. Once science caught up, it got fancy. And look, I’m not saying I think that’s necessarily the way to go, but kids, the cat’s out of the bag. The horse is out of the barn. The worms are out of the can. And they ain’t going back.

Bicycle technology has exploded with carbon fiber and other lightweight materials. Training has gotten smarter and so has strategy. Maybe it’s time to let medicine and science catch up?

Again, I’m not “pro-doping”,  but man… I sure wouldn’t mind watching the TDF and not wondering who’s getting away with it and who isn’t. And to be frank, it wouldn’t kill me if Lance Armstrong got his titles back. As an American, sticking it to the French is almost worth it on it’s on.

One of most grueling endurance events to be held on the planet is underway, and I didn’t even know. How do we get it back?

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SEC Media Days: A Must Have

July 10, 2017

The annual cattle call/feeding frenzy/psychotic event/beat writer expense report padding session known as SEC Media Days begins this week, and with it the unofficial kickoff of the 2017 college football season. I, for one, cannot wait. It’s something we definitely cannot live without! SEC Media Days (SECMDs) are a welcome respite from the long, arduous […]

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Make Baseball Great Again

July 3, 2017

It’s Independence Day Weekend I need help. I need your help. Don’t worry, I’m not moving or painting a house. I don’t have IT issues (well, I do, but that’s not what I need help with. But if you know somebody…?). I’m not rebuilding the carburetor in an ’83 Wagon Queen Family Truckster (“You think […]

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Cutting The Cord

June 26, 2017

I write this column every week here in the sports pages, and I’m very fortunate to have editors who give me pretty much complete creative control when it comes to subject matter. That’s why you’ve seen stories from my covering topics as varied as sports in the military to why I wasn’t thinking about sports […]

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No Pod Races Allowed

June 19, 2017

It’s Father’s Day weekend and I should be writing a column about how sports brings fathers and sons together, or Phil Mickelson dropping out of the U.S. Open to be at his daughter’s graduation, or coaches being father figures, or dads who volunteer to coach their kids, or a hundred other time-honored topics surrounding this […]

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What About Bob (Stoops)?

June 12, 2017

Poor Bob Stoops. I feel for the guy. Out of work. Man, no matter how it happens, it’s just the worst. I should know. I’ve quit more jobs than a cheap printer. It’s never easy. Sure, the guy has made eleventy-billion dollars over the last 18 years as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners (next […]

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Broken Windows

June 5, 2017

News came out this week that three former administrators from Penn State are getting jail time for their involvement in the Sandusky scandal. That horrid affair seems like ancient history to many Americans, thanks to our ADD raddled news cycle, but the main trial began almost exactly 5 years ago. My son was 12, but […]

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Will Power

May 29, 2017

Let me tell you a story… I once knew a guy named Will (not his real name.) He was a pretty amazing guy. Will came from a large family. He had 3 brothers and 3 sisters, and was the middle child. They lived in a small town in Kansas, and were a very average family. […]

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Chin Music

May 22, 2017

We are full on into baseball/softball season, and viewers and listeners across the fruited plain are being inundated with time-tested, well worn terms and phrases unique to the diamond. And since the game has been around since the early Paleozoic Era, there are plenty of them. Sure, football, basketball and hockey have their own particular […]

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