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Mason led the Tigers’ ground attack last season with an average of 83.50 rushing yards per game. Auburn did not respond immediately to questions concerning the NCAA eligibility of the squirrel.
By Zac Ellis
Ever since the poisoning of the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner, Auburn fans have mourned the gradual loss of their iconic landmarks. The school held a final rolling of the trees after the Tigers’ spring game on April 20, which served as a memorial before the trees were finally taken down.
Evidently, TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley didn’t get the memo. An Auburn fan who played his college basketball with the Tigers, Barkley offered his thoughts on the upcoming football season on the Tim Brando Show. He doesn’t seem to be particularly well-versed on the latest news coming out of the Auburn community.
Charles Barkley on Tim Brando Show: "We've got Gus Malzahn. I'm very confident we're going to be rolling trees at some point this year."—
Chris Vannini (@CoachingBuzz) April 30, 2013
Too soon, Chuck. Too soon.
By Zac Ellis
More than 100 Auburn athletic department employees took part in the school’s annual Tigers Give Back Community Service Day on Friday, and new football coach Gus Malzahn put his own spin on a classic game: bingo.
Malzahn ran through numbers quickly as the newest bingo-caller at Azalea Place Assisted Living Facility, one of the 13 sites participating in the Tigers Give Back program. Much like Malzahn’s approach to offense, the coach preferred an up-tempo style of play.
“I tested them a little bit,” Malzahn joked. “We ran the hurry-up, no-huddle bingo today, and they did a good job keeping up with it.”
By Zac Ellis
Gene Chizik said his Auburn team “did it right” despite allegations of NCAA violations, specifically academic fraud, within the program while he was head coach. In his first interview since being fired as the Tigers’ headman after last season, Chizik spoke with Alabama’s WJOX radio on Monday and defended his tenure at the school.
A Roopstigo.com story earlier this month reported numerous instances of academic fraud, as well as impermissible financial benefits to players, under Chizik’s watch. On Monday, Auburn released a statement from AD Jay Jacobs refuting the Roopstigo report based on a lack of evidence found by an internal review of the program.
Chizik backed the university’s defense, saying his reputation has been on the line with these allegations:
“I’m here because I care about my reputation, I care about the integrity of who I am and what I do, and I’m simply giving out the facts, because I’m 100 percent confident that we did it right,” Chizik said.
The coach went on to deny the allegations that his coaching staff changed players’ grades:
By Zac Ellis
Auburn has found no evidence of the academic fraud outlined in a story posted on Roopstigo.com earlier this month, the university announced Monday.
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs presented a point-by-point rebuttal to the Roopstigo report on the school’s website. Jacobs said an internal review debunked the majority of the claims in author Selena Roberts’ story. Jacobs emphasized that the review by Auburn Athletics and Auburn University Internal Auditing found no evidence to support the most serious claim, which stated that academic fraud occurred prior to the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.
Auburn concluded the release with the hashtag #GetTheFacts.
Jacobs called Roberts’ story an “attack” and vowed to continue to protect Auburn.
By Zac Ellis
After yet another weekend full of spring football games, here’s a rundown of the latest news and notes from across the nation:
• Notre Dame: The Irish defense came to play in the annual Blue-Gold game on Saturday, accounting for 10 sacks, two interceptions and a safety in the scrimmage. The offense, however, failed to find its groove, with second-year quarterback Everett Golson finishing 6-of-13 passing for 98 yards with one interception. He was also sacked three times. Coach Brian Kelly said he wasn’t concerned with the offense’s struggles, admitting he’d seen improvement on that side of the ball throughout spring. But the offense did find a spark late in the game when nose guard Louis Nix III took a goal-line snap and rumbled in for a two-point conversion. Perhaps Kelly should consider that package for the fall.
• Alabama: The Crimson Tide were anything but streamlined in Saturday’s A-Day game. The Crimson and White teams combined for nine turnovers — six interceptions and three fumbles — in the contest, leaving coach Nick Saban understandably upset. “The biggest thing I was concerned about was how the team would go out there and what would be their energy, their enthusiasm, and their attention to detail,” Saban said. “I don’t think that there were enough guys that answered that question in a positive way to my liking. But I’m never satisfied.” SI.com’s Lars Anderson reported on the game from Tuscaloosa. Oh, and AJ McCarron’s famous female companion Katherine Webb also made an appearance.
• Penn State: Around 28,000 fans ventured to Happy Valley for the Nittany Lions’ spring game this weekend, braving the icy elements in State College. But there wasn’t much closure for fans hoping to get a feel for Penn State’s quarterback situation, in which Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson are battling for the starting job. Coach Bill O’Brien was non-committal when discussing both passers after the game, but the competition may become more heated when five-star recruit Christian Hackenberg arrives on campus this summer.
There’s a lot of fun to be had on the Player Ejected From Spring Game For Targeting Own Teammate front:
Jonathon Mincy was just ejected from Auburn spring game for targeting.—
Jason Kirk (@JasonKirkSBN) April 20, 2013
… until we remember that college football officials are being handed yet another set of subjective decisions to make in fast time this fall. Hope we’re all prepared to familiarize ourselves with our chosen teams’ fifth-string defensive backs.
By Zac Ellis
One of the final chapters of the sad, curious saga of the oaks at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner will be written on Saturday. Shortly after Tigers’ A-Day spring game, fans can gather for what will be the final rolling of the trees on campus.
The rolling is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. and will include remarks from Auburn mayor Bill Ham Jr., university president Jay Gogue, head football coach Gus Malzahn, former AD David Housel, Auburn alumni association president Bill Stone and student government association president Harrison Mills. The university will unveil new development plans for Toomer’s Corner, the location of the trees, during the event.
Auburn will hand out toilet paper to fans in attendance while some merchants will sell rolls, giving away a free roll for every purchase. A pep rally will accompany the rolling of the trees and will include appearances by the Auburn pep band and cheerleaders.
The trees, which were poisoned two years ago by Alabama fan Harvey Updyke, have been iconic campus landmarks for decades. They’ve traditionally been “rolled” by fans after each home football victory.
By Zac Ellis
The NCAA’s enforcement staff took another hit over the weekend when veteran enforcement official Dave Didion opted to leave his post with the organization. He’ll assume the role of associate athletics director for compliance at Auburn, the same school he left 14 years ago to join the NCAA. USA Today reported the move on Friday.
Didion is the latest in a line of casualties in the NCAA’s enforcement department. Investigator Ameen Najjar was fired in 2012 after it was discovered he signed off on payments to Miami booster Nevin Shaprio’s attorney during the NCAA’s probe into the Hurricanes. Vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach was later fired as a result of the investigation. Two other enforcement staffers, investigators Rich Johanningmeier and Abigail Grantstein, have also left the NCAA within the last year.