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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Kurt Crain an Auburn Legend

Artwork by @Tiger3P Rob Altemari
 It was a warm, sunny day when the batter stepped to the plate in game three in the Alabama State Championship. A slight breeze wafted into his face while the young man surveyed the outfield and then set his gaze directly into the eyes of the pitcher. The pressure of the situation, with the bases loaded, the score knotted at two apiece, was immense.

The pitcher winds up and sends a rocket to the catcher's mitt, only the ball never makes its intended destination. With a mighty swing, a bases-clearing double is sent into deep right-center field. When the excited young baseball player looks back at the bench from second base and eventually into the stands. There standing tall above everyone else is his Father relishing in his son's accomplishment with both fists held high in the air. That was Kurt Crain the Dad.

Kurt Crain became an Auburn Legend during his time on the Plains. Without a doubt the height of the Pat Dye era at Auburn created many memorable players. Kurt Crain stood out among them.

A younger Kurt Crain played multiple sports while attending Berry High School. Picked by the Cincinnati Reds in the amateur draft out of high school Crain chose to go to Auburn, after a brief stint with the University of Memphis, and play football in 1986. He became a starter in his first year. 1987 saw Kurt Crain blossom into an All-SEC first team Linebacker and an All-American. Crain led a stout defense with five interceptions returning one for a touchdown.

One day at practice Crain, the soon-to-be Auburn Legend, broke the forbidden rule. Bo Jackson came running the ball around where Crain was set and his instinct took over as he tackled Bo. Pat Dye had a rule: You were not allowed to tackle Bo! Coach Dye immediately kicked him out of practice. That was Kurt Crain the competitor.

Kurt Crain would later tell his sons he felt sorry sometimes for the opposing offensive linemen. In the huddle, “back when teams huddled”, Crain would look around at the guys and think to himself “ we are about to destroy these guys, and there's nothing they can do about it.”

It's no wonder Kurt Crain felt that way. With the future number one pick in the NFL Draft in Aundray Bruce along with Tracy Rocker, Quentin Riggins, Craig Ogletree, Benji Roland, Kevin Porter, and many others. That stingy defense finished third in the nation in scoring defense allowing a paltry 11 points a game.

Ask any college football fan in the state of Alabama and they will quickly tell you the Iron Bowl is the most important game of every season. Backed up with claims of the game being the best rivalry in all of football.

*The New York Times printed a story via Associated Press about the 1987 Iron Bowl which Auburn won 10-0.

Until Auburn's 99-yard drive, the game was dominated by the defenses, with the Auburn linebacker, Kurt Crain, halting Alabama with an interception...”

Crain would be drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers along with Chris Dishman and Lorenzo White among others. Kurt used to jokingly tell folks of Bill Romanowski (3rd round Forty-Niners) was
picked before him in the draft. Saying “the guy who made that pick was the smartest man in the room.”

A projected third-round pick, Crain went to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL against the pleading of his Father, and promptly tore his ACL on a sprinkler head. The injury dropped his draft status.

That was Kurt Crain the football player.

Once his playing days were finished Kurt took up coaching. His passion and love for the game were something he wanted to share. Kurt Crain had a coaching philosophy that was hard as he could coach you and get on you, whenever we leave the field, he would love on you just as hard, just as passionately. He'd never leave the field with his players without letting them know why he coached them so hard. It was because he loved them.

One such player came up from a bad part of town ( we are intentionally leaving names and places out of this part) both parents were abusing drugs and nobody else would touch the kid. Crain saw the potential and worked diligently with the young man. The player graduated college and is now the VP of a construction company. That was Kurt Crain the Coach.

We can't thank Jake Crain enough. This story would have been nearly impossible without his guidance and insight. Sometimes the journey down memory lane was emotional, while other times joyous. When we asked Jake for some thoughts about his Dad, he was quick to share.

photo courtesy Rob Altemari

“The stuff I remember is going fishing or hunting. Don't get me wrong we'd talk football a lot and watch film. He'd sit us down and show us “this is Power, this is the “I”, this is why they're doing that.”

As good of a football player he was, he was an even better baseball player.

He's literally still the funniest person I ever met.” He had this face he'd make when he wanted to make sure we were paying attention. We called it “Iron Face.” 

That was Kurt Crain the Dad.

It didn't matter what size you were. What you did. What color your skin was. Where you were from. Who you voted for. He cared. He treated everybody the same and he never “big-timed” anyone.

As an attestation to this, I want to share with you a piece of an article written by Tommy Hicks of

I was the Auburn beat writer for the Anniston Star when Kurt starred at Auburn and I covered his coaching career at various spots, especially at South Alabama. But none of the memories I've had of him since learning of his death had anything to do with his days as a player or coach. Each memory centered on one fact: he was a good man.”


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A New Culture


cul·​ture | \ ˈkəl-chər the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization

Let's talk a little about culture as it pertains to Auburn football. Specifically, the changes made by the new staff in both the coaching aspect and the players.

While we won't see a big change on the field before September, we can catch a glimpse behind the scenes on social media. Whether it's Owen Pappoe referencing how they are going to look like Marines this upcoming season(due to the new strength and conditioning program), or seeing all the Wellness Kitchen Click Here video and pictures where our guys are cooking their own meals and having a blast doing so. 

The players are mentioning an entirely different nutrition program tailored specifically to them. The practice routines are different. The workouts are different. The attitude is different.

Gone are the days of "fun" and Crossfit-style workouts. Now workouts are suited more toward an end goal, and not just to outlast your opponents by going faster from play to play. That advantage died back in 2015. Everybody had caught up to the "Hurry Up" style of play, and we weren't outpacing anybody. 

Trovon Reed, a member of the national champion 2010 team had this to say on Twitter: 

"It’s a different atmosphere in that @AuburnFootball locker room right now ! Guys are walking like CHAMPS , talking like CHAMPS, it’s a beautiful sight to see ! I love it ! WAR DAM!"

From the coaching perspective, let's just say there is a big change. The new staff is free to do their job, and coach their positions groups without a lot of input and scrutiny. Be sure that Coach Bryan Harsin is aware of what is being taught, however, he's allowing the staff to do their job instead of controlling every aspect of their job. 

A case in point is Nick Brahms. Brahms has been the starter at the center position for Auburn since he took over the job in 2019 vs. Ole Miss 

"One of the biggest things we were lacking, maybe, is football IQ, I think coach Friend has done a great job in teaching us the game of football."

This statement struck a chord with me instantly. Football IQ?!? I rather agitatedly asked: Why hasn't he been taught "Football IQ" in the past?!? 

We can clearly see a change is happening. From every level of the football program. Coaching, workouts, support staff, and nutrition are all different. Just how all this translates to wins and losses is yet to be determined. One thing is sure. Our guys are going to be stronger, smarter, and better fueled for the task at hand. 


Sunday, July 4, 2021

Run? Or Pass?

 While we look at the upcoming football season and try our hand at PREDICTIONS, I also thought we should look at College Football Playoff championship teams, their stats and glean some idea of what we might see from the new Auburn offense

In 2010, Auburn was #2 nationally in rushing yards per attempt at 6.2. 

In 2013 Auburn was #1 in the country with a 6.3 per attempt. 

In both of the above football seasons, the Tigers played in the national championship game. 

Could this be an indicator of success? Maybe. 

Alabama was 47th last season. Only one team in the CFB Playoff era was inside the Top 10 Rushing offense and that was Ohio State. 

Let's look at the eventual champions of the playoff era and how their rushing games compared nationally. 

Now compare this to the passing games of these same champions.


While the numbers are a bit erratic, there is a clear indication the eventual national champion teams did not have to be balanced per se offensively.


While turnover margin plays a part in most games, it's clearly not indicative of success throughout the season. Just my thoughts on this one aspect lead me to think the adverse turnover margin is parallel to a lack of discipline and this most likely could result in a poor season statistically. 

Putting these areas of offense on paper doesn't fully explain the overall team success. All of these championship teams put together great seasons. Yet, 2018/2019 Clemson was the only team to have both Rushing Offense and Passing Offense rank inside the Top 25 statistically. 

Now to Auburn. 
This season our Tigers need to perform at a higher level than the previous versions and do so with a new offense and new coaches. 

Just what the offense will look like is a guessing game. But, our friend Justin Ferguson of The Auburn Observer had this to say: 
"Being that this is 2021, one could reasonably expect Auburn to call a majority of its plays out of the shotgun this fall. It’s an easy way to transition the roster and build around its established strengths — and it limits any under-center snap shenanigans that might arise. But Auburn is going to go under-center and run more of the “pro-style” formations whenever it feels like it needs to do so." 
***Read the entire story here: 

In fact, we strongly recommend that you join/subscribe to The Aubserver.

In the A Day game, Auburn called 23 pass and 23 run plays as Justin Ferguson noted. This offense needs to be proficient. It's not like there's a secret formula to football offensively. You need to play as mistake-free as possible, limit turnovers, and not commit penalties.

If this new staff can get this team in shape mentally and physically the sky is the limit. 

War Eagle!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Video & QB Play

 The following video productions are from Stat Tiger. He has produced some of the best videos that include a breakdown of the film, and the quality of video being produced. 


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Rob's Brutally Honest Prognostications for Auburn Football Week 1 - 3!

It goes without saying We ALL love Auburn so the number of dubs should never change that.

With that said I am writing this more to document my expectations as we board that Auburn rollercoaster this season.

Game 1 - Akron Zips vs Auburn Tigers, Auburn, AL @ 6:00pm CT Televised on ESPN+

First game of the Coach Harsin era here at Auburn. Akron who went 1 - 5 in 2020 and found their only win against the 0 - 5 Bowling Green. Both teams ended up at the bottom of the Mac East which is the same division that has Buffalo in it. 

Auburn has only played Akron once in 1988 and Auburn handled them 42 - 0. In 1988 Auburn went 10 - 2 in Pat Dye's 8th season and saw us with a final rank in the AP Poll 8th and 7th in the Coaches Poll.

I cannot imagine a scenario that does not have Auburn winning this game. It will be hard to come out of this game with any true measurement with how good or bad we will be based on this game as this should be a primer game. We should never discount our opponents but unfortunately all programs were hit hard last year due to practice and experience and Akron was hit harder than Auburn only getting to play 6 games. 

Prediction - Akron 3 - Auburn 38

Game 2 - Alabama State Hornets vs Auburn Tigers, Auburn, AL @11:00AM CT Televised on SECN

Do I start all of these with second game of the Coach Harsin era? 😏 Why not! In our second week the Hornets come to town again. in our one and only meeting back in 2018 our Tigers curb stomped them 63 - 9. 

The Hornets are actually coming in with some fresh football experience given they played their games this past spring. They went 3 - 3 but one of their dubs was a forfeit so they actually only played 5 games. The last one being on April 14th, 2021, against Alabama A&M in the Magic City Classic where they lost 38 - 14.

I believe they will be coming into JordanHare 1 - 0 as they play Miles in their first week (Look at that a bonus call). Even with these two undefeated teams coming in with some momentum I do not think the Hornets will have what it takes to outlast the Tigers. 

Prediction - Alabama State 10 - Auburn 45

Game 3 - Auburn Tigers vs Penn State Nittany Lions, University Park, PA @6:30PM ET Televised on ABC

Well, here we are in week 3 of Coach Harsin era and it is a doozy! Penn State is coming in preseason ranked at #16 in the USA Today poll. Auburn and Penn State have only played twice in the history of these two universities. Auburn won the last one in the Jan 1, 2003, Capital One Bowl 13 - 9 and Penn State beating Auburn in the Outback Bowl on Jan 1, 1996 destroying the Tigers 43 - 14.

Obviously being on the road, really not being able to get a real test in our first two games will be a detriment to getting our Tigers ready for the absolute hostile environment they are going to have to execute on a very big stage. Another aspect is Penn State in week 1 plays the 13th ranked Wisconsin Badgers Team and this will be a brawl in week one. If Penn State loses to the Badgers, this will immediately put them in a position that the Auburn game in week #3 is almost a must win. 

Honestly, I have never seen in the recent era where Penn State has been a dominating team, much like Auburn so this is not a given type of situation. Anyone who claims this is an easy win for Penn State is just riding a hype bus... Penn State rarely has an easy win against a D1 opponent sort of like our experience lately down here on the plains. 

I just think our young team given their experience will need to do too much to knock the Nittany Lions off in their home den and our Tigers may have their tails between their legs leaving Beaver stadium. 😢 Not going to support them any less or start criticizing them, it will be what it is, just a tough road trip.

Prediction - Auburn Tigers 13 - Penn State 27

My heart says we will be 3 - 0 after Week 3 but my brain is telling me something different and to maintain some level of objectivity it is what it is.... 

War Eagle Y'all and God Bless!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

QB Stew

I decided to give this idea time to stew. Like any stew, the best flavors don't come by instantly mixing every ingredient, and turning the stove eye on. Some things take time.

I use this to help you understand why it has taken so long to write about T.J. Finley and his transfer to Auburn. 

Understandably, there are many "what ifs"  and many more predictions about the situation. Most are guessing. They have zero ideas as to what's going on inside the athletic complex. I'm sure several have guessed correctly, still, it does not mean they "Know" anything. 

I'll go over what I do know. Then we can talk about the "what ifs."

Things I know.

It was VERY CLEAR Auburn did not have a lot of QB competition at the starting QB spot. It has been Bo's job since he stepped on campus. Talk about pressure!

Bo Nix certainly has the competitive fire to be great.

The gap between Bo Nix and Dematrius Davis is wide. It's not a talent gap, it's an SEC game experience gap. After all, Davis just arrived at Auburn. 

Here is a snippet from Davis' bio on the official websiteOutstanding dual-threat quarterback who led North Shore High to a 14-1 record and the state semifinals in 2020 … 3,553 yards passing with 38 TD and 875 yards rushing with 22 score

It's worth noting these numbers were achieved in the highest echelon of Texas high school football. Enough said.

I am not going to discuss the other QB's that are in the room because they have very little chance of seeing action this season. 

SEC game experience. This is the main reason Auburn went after T. J. Finley when he entered the transfer portal. Finley has tremendous upside and elite arm strength. Two more factors that made Finley a great target for the Auburn Tiger QB room.

The "What Ifs" 

These are my thoughts. They are not known quantities, but just my personal opinions and guesses. 

Nobody on the current coaching staff cares who starts for Auburn at QB. They want the best guy to prove it's his team.   

Bo may have the highest upside of any QB other than the two currently in the NFL. 

There is a caveat. None of the QB's recently recruited out of high school made significant improvement year to year. Including Bo. 

For some QB's it takes a couple of seasons. Their bodies are still growing. The strength and conditioning programs are unlike anything they have done previously. Then there is coaching. 

Finley was thrust into the starting role at LSU as a true freshman. Usually, this is not a recipe for success. It wasn't. It was not a failure either. Finley had some very impressive moments that should translate well to the new Auburn offense. 

Much like Bo Nix's first campaign.

If Auburn for some reason had to start Dematrius Davis, it would not be an ideal scenario. Over the years, very few true Freshman QB's have played at a championship level. 

However, Now Nix, Finley, and Davis have proven QB developers in their corner.  Hopefully, we see major improvement this upcoming season. 

The big plus to this comes from knowing the best teams have a QB ready to come off the bench and keep the championship drive alive. For example, Ohio State used three QB's one season they won the BCS Championship. 

Adding Finley was good common sense and a prudent move. If he wins the starting job, good on him. If not, he will be ready whenever Nix decides to take his game to the next level.

Either way, Auburn wins! 

War Eagle!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Auburn & The 12 Team Playoff

photo by Tiger Pixel Pusher
@Tiger3P on Twitter

News has leaked recently that a 12 team playoff is the move within the CFB Playoff committee. Let me insert that this author has long clamored for more teams in the playoff for the national championship each season. 

Never in my wildest dream did I think the committee would be considering a 12 team playoff. One caveat leaked is these first-round games might be "on campus" games. 

That is a huge piece of information, and a tremendous incentive to have a good record which would mean an additional home game each season for any team that didn't make the Top 4 spots. 

Now to Auburn. It is far too early to know for certain if Coach Bryan Harsin will have Auburn in the playoff race any time soon. However, this author can dream, and dream big, so let's dive in.

Our first look will be at the upcoming season. 2021 will be the most difficult season for this staff and this team to climb the mountain and make the fall dance if you will. 

Punter at "X"
From Josh Dowdy @heartofauburn
available here:

First, Coach Harsin and his Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo are creating their offensive playbook. Included in this will be the language used for play-calling. Other items may include route designation for each receiver position. What the former staff called the "X" position may not be what this staff decides to name it. In fact, the two coaches creating this offense may not even have called this position the same thing prior to coming to Auburn. 

Obviously, I gave away my main concern with this season by mentioning the offense first. It is, in my opinion, the biggest question mark on the entire team. The questions start with the head coach and trickle down throughout the entire offense. 

I am confident the defense will be at the very least serviceable, and most likely very good. 

So, back to the playoff picture. Nobody knows when this new 12 team playoff will begin. When it does, Auburn "should never have a season they are not in the playoff picture. Unless it starts this coming fall. Let me expound.

Once the schedule was announced, and the university announced Auburn football games will be played at full capacity attendance, I went back through our opponents to see what I thought was plausible record-wise for this team. 

My firm belief is 8 wins should be the pivot point for this team. The only way I wouldn't be disappointed with a 7 win season would be a rash of injuries or each loss was by one score (6 points) or less. That would mean there is hope for the future. 

8 wins would be a good signal that things are trending up. Unless the losses are complete blowouts. Double-digit losses to 4 teams would not be a good indicator of improvement. Basically, that would be treading water, and we are all tired of treading water at this point. 

9 wins. Now, 9 wins would mean we took down someone on our schedule that everybody else has written us off as losing to. Whether it's finally winning at Redstick, or knocking off UGA or Bama. 

3 losses, even with one of the toughest schedules in the country probably wouldn't get Auburn in a 12 team playoff. 

Then again...


***editors note Minutes after this article was published, news broke that this 12 team playoff would begin at the end of the 2023 football season. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The #EverythingSchool & Championships


photo courtesy of the AUfficial website 
taken by Michael Wade

The Auburn Women's golf team started their chase for a national championship yesterday at the par 72, 6,384-yard Grayhawk Golf Course in Scottsdale. ("yo, that's some hardcore hood." - Robin Williams in the movie RV)

"We were hoping to take advantage of the early morning tee time, but that was not to be," head coach Melissa Luellen said. "The rough is very penalizing on this course and we were in it far too often. Thankfully, we have many more holes to go to climb the leaderboard."

Team Standings
1. Texas – 289 (+1)
2. Oregon – 290 (+2)
3. Stanford – 291 (+3)
T4. Arizona – 292 (+4)
T4. Kent State – 292 (+4)
T4. Duke – 292 (+4)
T4. Wake Forest – 292 (+4)
T8. LSU – 296 (+8)
T8. Ole Miss – 296 (+8)
10. Oklahoma State – 297 (+9)
11. Florida State – 298 (+10)
12. Kentucky – 299 (+11)
13. Arizona State – 300 (+12)
14. Michigan State – 301 (+13)
T15. Virginia Tech – 302 (+14)
T15. UCLA – 302 (+14)
17. Michigan – 304 (+16)
18. AUBURN – 305 (+17)
19. Maryland – 306 (+18)
T20. Georgia – 307 (+19)
T20. USC – 307 (+19)
T22. Baylor – 308 (+20)
T22. Alabama – 308 (+20)
24. South Carolina – 312 (+24)

Graphic courtesy of the AUfficial website. 

Here's hoping for our Ladies to climb up that leaderboard.

War Eagle!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Auburn Dominates Missouri Baseball 15-6

photo by Bob Altemarie of High Seas Photography

 In a must-win situation. 

On the road in the toughest conference. 

Playing our best baseball of the season, the Auburn Tigers took their show on the road to Missouri and dominated the first game of the series. 

Building upon 6 shut-out innings and an 8-0 lead, Auburn exploded in the 8th inning adding 6 more runs. Winning the game 15-6.

"Nobody has seen the ball as good as Rankin Woley has the last three weeks, and Ryan Bliss is consistent as all get out. Kason Howell pokes his head out tonight and hits two home runs on breaking balls with two strikes," head coach Butch Thompson said.- From the AUfficial website.

.’s 15 runs Thursday are the most runs the Tigers have scored in an SEC series opener since they won 19-5 at Alabama on April 20, 2018. #WarEagle

Our Tigers must win the series and hope that Texas Aggies baseball doesn't win the series against LSU in order to advance to the final spot in the SEC Baseball tournament.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Farewell & Thanks to Our Seniors

Right to Left
Jack Owen, Steven Williams, Peyton Glavine,
Cody Greenhill, Rankin Woley, Judd Ward
Coach Butch Thompson

Auburn finishes its 2021 home baseball season against North Alabama tonight May 18th at 6pm. It will be the final home game for the Seniors who were honored this weekend during a game with Texas A & M.

Aubie seeing you at Plainsman Park

Come out to the ballpark tonight. See Aubie and enjoy some good weather. 

War Eagle!

Brief Recap of the Final SEC Homestand.


Bryan Harsin throws out the ceremonial 1st pitch.
Picture by Bob Altemarie

A crucial homestand against the Texas Aggies went about as well as we could hope.

Auburn 21-25 & 7-19 in SEC play, won the first game in what can best be described as a dismal SEC campaign with its bullpen in the final 4 innings. A theme that has been sorely missing.

Ryan Bliss smiles after a home run
 game 2
photo by Bob Altemarie

Game 2 saw the Tigers jumped out to an early lead only to see it disappear. Auburn hit 6 home runs and only committed 2 errors but the Aggies clawed their way to the win by the score of 11-9.

The final SEC homestand was won on the 3rd day with Auburn scoring 3 runs in each of the first 2 innings. The Tigers then added another in the 4th and also in the 8th innings. Winning the game 8-5 and claiming the series.

War Eagle!