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Tag:Nick Fairley
Posted on: January 12, 2011 10:30 am
 

Tommy Tuberville proud of Auburn after BCS title

Posted by Bryan Fischer

DALLAS, Tex. – Former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville guided the Tigers to an undefeated season but, in one of the greatest BCS controversies, never played for a national championship. Attending the American Football Coaches Association Convention this week, the former Tigers coach was beaming with pride when talking about his old school winning a national title Monday night.

But he had to confess that he just couldn’t watch Auburn raise up the trophy live.

“You know, I didn’t watch what happened,” Tuberville said. “I got so nervous because a lot of those kids are mine. I told my wife, we’re going to go eat and I’ll tape it. After I knew who won, I came back and stayed up and watched it in the middle of the night.

“That’s hard what they just did. They could have lost three or four games.”

Tuberville was head coach at Auburn from 1999 to 2008, including an undefeated season in 2004. He recruited many of the upperclassmen on the team, including Defensive MVP Nick Fairley.

“We recruited him. We watched him play basketball and you could see it coming,” Tuberville said. “He just didn’t have the grades (out of high school). We stayed with him out of high school, got him in junior college.”

In addition to Fairley, Tuberville pointed out one other leftover from his time on the Plains that helped fuel the championship run.

“The guy that probably doesn’t get enough credit though, is Kevin Yoxall, the strength coach,” he said. “We always had senior banquets at the end of the year and every year, every player would thank one guy. That’s Kevin Yoxall.

“When I walked out the door at Auburn, I said I don’t know who you’re going to keep but that’s the one guy you better keep. And they did. That’s the only thing they listened to me about.”

Tuberville is entering his second season as head coach at Texas Tech.

Posted on: January 11, 2011 2:04 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 3:10 am
 

BCS Championship Bowl Grades: Auburn

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Offense

This is uncomfortable, so let's just get it out of the way right now: Cam Newton did not win this game for Auburn. Oh, he made some good plays, and his overall numbers -- 20-34, 265 yards, 2 TD, INT, 22 rushes, 65 yards -- are certainly respectable. The fact is, though, that this game was only close because Newton missed two wide-open first-half touchdowns that could have blown the game open, and neither drive ended in points. Newton then injured his shoulder during the second half, and turned into a shell of his normal self. While he doesn't deserve a ton of scorn for his late fumble that let Oregon back into the game -- if a ball gets punched out from behind like that by someone you don't even see, well, what were you supposed to do? -- if Newton weren't running tentatively to begin with on account of that sore shoulder, does Casey Matthews still catch him from behind?

No, if anyone on the Auburn offense deserves praise, it's true freshman tailback Michael Dyer. Dyer put the team on his back in the second half, and  finished with 143 yards (96 of which came in the second half) on 22 carries. Dyer wore Oregon's smallish defense down over the course of the game, and his roll over an Oregon defender on the last drive of the game led to a 37-yard gain that put Auburn in position to win the game. Again: he's a true freshman. That the SEC gets both him and Marcus Lattimore for two more years is, well, kind of unfair. Final Grade: B

Defense

Nick Fairley has a lot to learn about on-field maturity, but as a defensive tackle, he is an absolute nightmare to block. Fairley was instrumental in the Tigers' ability to control the line of scrimmage, registering three tackles for a loss, forcing numerous hurried throws, and opening up opportunities for his teammates when he drew double-teams. His draft stock skyrocketed today, even after a dumb (but not uncharacteristic) personal foul penalty for shoving LaMichael James in the facemask well after a play was dead.

Still, Oregon only rushed for 75 yards on 32 carries -- less than a quarter of the Ducks' rushing average coming into the game. It was the first time since last season's opener against Boise State that Oregon hadn't rushed for over 100 yards in a game. That is dominance. The 374 passing yards allowed? Not so dominant, of course, but Auburn spent the entire year getting shredded through the air and it never mattered. Same goes for tonight. Final Grade: B

Special Teams

Wes Bynum wasn't particularly challenged by his field goals, which is a good thing, and he put all his kickoffs to the goal line. Oregon got no free yards from poor kickoffs, and Auburn's punting was equally inhospitable -- Ryan Shoemaker put three punts inside the 20, had no touchbacks, and allowed only six punt return yards. In close games, details matter, and Auburn took care of the details on special teams tonight. Final Grade: A

Coaching

For all the follies that usually surround collegiate game management, Gene Chizik did a very good job today. He let Gus Malzahn call an aggressive game without trying anything insane on offense, and none of his playcalls were worthy of scorn -- even that botched 4th and goal was a great call, and nobody was anywhere close to Eric Smith. Newton just failed to get the ball to him, for whatever reason. Speaking of Smith, though, his cheap shot on Dion Jordan that left the Duck bloodied near his eye was an outright disgrace, and he shouldn't have been allowed back on the field by the referees or by coaches. Smith would be injured early in the second half, rendering the point moot, but he shouldn't have been out there anymore in the first place. That's really the only gripe, though. Final Grade: A-

Team Grade

Auburn is your 2011 BCS Champion, and it achieved that by playing a team game. The secondary got torched at times, but the defense stiffened up as a whole in the red zone. Auburn's gameplan evolved nicely over the course of the game, adjusting for Newton's aches on the fly without completely neutralizing him. The game was sloppy at times, and closer than it had any right to be, but it was also scintillating at its peaks and Auburn was obviously a big reason why. Congratulations to Newton, Fairley, and the rest of the perfectly imperfect Auburn Tigers for their national championship. Final Grade: B+


Posted on: January 6, 2011 6:20 pm
 

Thomas says Fairley's 'got a lot of dirty plays'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Darron Thomas met the press today and didn't bother to pull any punches about what he thought of ... well, anything. (""They've got a great front eight (on defense)," he said , "but have never played a team like us that plays at the speed we do.") That included notorious -- and notoriously good -- Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who Thomas said had come by his reputation for illegal play --particularly where it concerns opposing quarterbacks -- honestly:

"Oh yeah, we've seen he's got a lot of dirty plays, throwing people around after the play and things like that," Thomas said Thursday. "But that's just football. I don't worry about it because it's a physical game" ...

"If it happens, it happens," Thomas said. "You've just got to get back up for the next play."
Fairley naturally denied the charge, claiming he simply "give[s] 110 percent" and if dirty is "what they call it, that's what it is." But if his Twitter comments are any indication , he's also not all that bothered by Thomas's comments:



Of course, offended or not offended, it's not likely to change the fact that Fairley's going to do his best to treat Thomas as if he had been.
Posted on: December 9, 2010 2:19 pm
 

Nick Fairley follows coach's lead, wins Lombardi

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's one of those stories that would be edited out of a film script for being "too heavyhanded," but happened in real life Wednesday night anyway: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, playing the past two seasons under the tutelage of his school's last winner of the Lombardi Award, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, became the school's newest winner of the same award . It's not irony, but it's close enough that Alanis Morrisette would think it is.

In any case, the award's voters -- "a distinguished committee of nearly 400 of America's most prominent college football coaches, football writers, sports broadcasters and previous Rotary Lombardi Award winners and finalists," charged with selecting the nation's best lineman or linebacker -- weren't voting based on the headlines; Fairley was arguably the nation's most disruptive defensive force this season, leading the SEC in tackles for loss with 21.5 (for comparison's sake, one more than Ndamukong Suh totaled in 2009) and finishing second with 10.5 sacks. But Fairley's penchant for brutal hits on opposing quarterbacks -- a handful of which straddled the line between fair play and unnecessary roughness, and earned him something of a villain's reputation in some quarters of the conference -- meant his impact was felt even beyond his imposing statistics.

All that said, the Lombardi committee couldn't have gone wrong with the equally beastly Da'Quan Bowers, the Clemson defensive end who leads the nation in sacks and was one of three other Lombardi finalists (with the others Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn and TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick ). Bowers won the Nagurski Trophy over Fairley, setting up a kind of rubber match vote with the Bednarik Award , given to the nation's best defensive player later today.

Whether Bowers or Fairley triumphs in their little one-on-battle on the awards circuit (the Bednarik could also declare an effective tie by honoring LSU corner Patrick Peterson ), the real winner here is the NFL draft, which assuming Fairley declares, looks poised to have an outstanding class of defensive linemen on its hands this April.

Follow along with all the postseason college football honors at the CBS Sports Awards Watch .

Posted on: December 6, 2010 3:50 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 3:51 pm
 

Gene Chizik hitting the incentives jackpot

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Far be it from us to criticize a fellow CBS property, but it has always bugged this blogger that Rod Roddy always introduced The Price is Right game "Plinko " by telling contestants they could win $25,000 (and, later, $50,000). While that was technically correct, the number of hoops required for contestants to actually win that amount -- winning the maximum five chips, then having all of them slide down the virtually random Plinko board perfectly into the $5,000/$10,000 slot -- made it so unlikely that the stakes for Plinko were, secretly always much lower than the figure announced. (Much like, say, an NFL free agent contract.)

Why do we mention this? Because when Gene Chizik signed his head coaching contract with Auburn, it felt like he'd agreed to play a game of Plinko with his salary. As Jay Tate of the Montgomery Advertiser detailed again recently , Chizik's original base salary of $1.9 million fell well below typical SEC market value (his predecessor at Auburn, Tommy Tuberville, earned upwards of $4 million), but a cavalcade of incentives gave Chizik the potential to earn far, far more than that. The catch: when Chizik arrived fresh off of his 5-19 stint at Iowa State, the overwhelming majority of those incentives looked so far beyond Chizik's reach they might as well not have existed.

As it turns out, though, if Chizik's time at Auburn has been a game of Plinko, it's looked something like this:



Entering today, Chizik had already claimed bonuses of $125,000 for winning 12 games, $100,000 for making the SEC Championship Game , $200,000 for winning it, and $25,000 more for having won a 13th game of any kind. With the league's announcement today that Chizik is the AP SEC Coach of the Year (leading an Auburn sweep that saw Cam Newton the conference offensive Player of the Year and Nick Fairley the defensive equivalent), he's pocketed another $100,000, bringing him up to $550,000 total. With national coach of the year honors, a top 5 final poll ranking, and (of course) a BCS national championship all triggering further (and larger) bonuses, Chizik stands to rake in as much as $1.3 million from his team's dream season.

No doubt Chizik would tell you the accomplishments of his team are the cake and the money merely the icing. But there's also no doubt that hauling in a wad of dough that substantial when no one thought you'd see a dime of it must taste awfully, awfully sweet.




Posted on: November 24, 2010 3:47 pm
 

Barrett Jones likely to miss Iron Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's obvious that this year's Alabama team is not the same as the squad that won the national title last year.  All you have to do is look at the Tide's record, and see those two blemishes in the loss column to figure that out.  While there are a few reasons for this, one of the bigger factors has been the offensive line's inability to block for Greg McElroy.

Only Tennessee and Vanderbilt have allowed their quarterback to be sacked more often in the SEC this year than Alabama, who have given up 27 sacks. In the Iron Bowl on Friday, while Auburn's defense as a whole hasn't been all that impressive, the Alabama offensive line is going to have its hands full with Nick Fairley and company.  A task that may be even tougher now that it looks like guard Barrett Jones isn't going to be able to play.

“Barrett Jones is still struggling a little bit,” said Nick Saban after practice on Tuesday. “He hasn’t been able to practice much. He may try to do some things tomorrow and I think that would be the indicator of whether he would be able to participate in the game or not.” 

Jones suffered a sprained left ankle in the Mississippi State game, and sat out of the team's ritual sacrifice of Georgia State last week.  He has been practicing, but he's been wearing the black "no-contact" jersey.  If he can't go on Friday, he'll be replaced up front by Anthony Steen who filled in for him against Georgia State.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 4:16 pm
 

Idaho safety suspended in concussion crackdown

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College football's efforts to crack down on illegal head shots continued Wednesday, as the WAC suspended Idaho safety Shiloh Keo for the first half of the Vandals' next game for this blow to the helmet of Boise State backup quarterback Mike Coughlin :




Frankly, Keo is lucky he's only missing a half; he was initially suspended for the entire game but had it reduced on appeal. (Not that anyone at Boise can complain; Bronco cornerback Winston Venable also had a WAC-induced suspension reduced earlier this year.)

That Keo is suspended at all, though, further emphasizes the new, uh, emphasis in the sport this year on preventing head injuries. But is it coming at the expense of other kinds of equally nasty hits? The SEC raised eyebrows this week when it declined to punish Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley for a late blow to the back of Georgia 's Aaron Murray , and passed as well on issuing punishment to the two Bulldog linemen whose attempted retaliation on Fairley sparked a near-brawl. Notre Dame 's Kerry Neal went unpunished for this stomp on the torso of a Navy player.

The crackdown on blows to the head and concussions is, without question, an admirable one. But those are not the only dangerous -- and avoidable -- hits on the football field.

Posted on: November 17, 2010 12:10 pm
 

Nagurski Trophy finalists announced

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Nagurski Trophy is handed out annually to the nation's best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America , and if there's no slam-dunk choice for the FWAA this year like Ndamukong Suh in 2009, it's hard to argue -- depending on how you feel about the under-fire Nick Fairley -- that any of the five finalists for the award wouldn't be entirely deserving. They are:

Da'Quan Bowers, End, Clemson, 6-4, 275, Jr. (Bamberg, S.C)
Nick Fairley, Tackle, Auburn, 6-5, 298, Jr. (Mobile, Ala.)
Justin Houston, Linebacker, Georgia, 6-3, 258, Jr. (Statesboro, Ga.)
Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College, 6-3, 235, So. (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Patrick Peterson, Cornerback, LSU 6-1, 222, Jr. (Pompano Beach, Fla.)

You know Bowers as the nation's leading sackmaster with 13.5 takedowns of opposing quarterbacks, but he's also added 22 tackles-for-loss, second in the nation; Fairley as the SEC 's most purely disruptive defender (with possible apologies to Houston and LSU tackle Drake Nevis ), and his 18 tackles-for-loss rank first in the country amongst defensive tackles; Peterson as the nation's consensus best cover corner, the absolute prototype for the next level with his combination of size and breathtaking speed; and Houston as the SEC's leader in both sacks (11) and tackles-for-loss (18.5) from his position as a rush linebacker in Georgia 'a new-for-2010 3-4 defense.

But you may not know Kuechly at all, and not without reason; when you share not just a team or a defense but a linebacking unit with an incredible story like fellow Eagle Mark Herzlich and his recovery from cancer, it's hard to get noticed in the national press no matter what you do on the field. But as the nationa's most efficient, productive tackling machine, what Kuechly has accomplished has been no less impressive than the achievements of any of the other four Nagurski finalists. He leads the nation in both total tackles with 146 (or 14.6 per game ) and solo stops with 83; no other player in college football has yet crossed the 80 threshold. Kuechly is also the only player in the country to make 20 or more tackles in one game, and has done so twice: once against North Carolina State and again against Duke this past Saturday, when he also added two pass breakups, a forced fumble, and recovered fumble just for good measure.

So even if the most under-the-radar finalist for the Nagurski goes home with the hardware, complaints should be kept to a minimum. Though anyone other than Suh would have been a mistake a year ago, this year the FWAA cannot go wrong.
 
 
 
 
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