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"It's Auburn's year to win real national title" OR

DKW 86

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It's Auburn's year to win real national title

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tommy Tuberville admits it. He's not sure if his eighth Auburn football team is ready for prime time.

"We have a puzzle to put together," he said. "I can remember, in 2004, I thought we had a lot of pieces of the puzzle that weren't there."

Don't ask Pat Dye. He's as puzzled as Tuberville.

Is Auburn poised for more than another I-A state title?

"You don't really know at this point in time," Dye said. "All that's out there now is potential."

Dye (1983 New York Times) and Tuberville (2004 People's Choice) both have led the Tigers to a mythical national championship. As coach and coach emeritus, they can't say it. They won't say it.

I will.

This is the year of the Tiger. This is the year Auburn's best is more than good enough. This is the year Auburn wins the real national championship.

Auburn has the players. On offense alone, quarterback Brandon Cox, tailback Kenny Irons, wideout Courtney Taylor and guard Tim Duckworth are potential All-Americans.

Auburn has the coaches. Most of the staff has presided over an undefeated season. New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has been part of a BCS national championship.

Auburn has the memories, good and bad, that should keep this team from crumbling under the weight of expectation. The Tigers were humbled coming and going last season, in the opener and in the bowl game.

They've been reminded, from winter workouts to spring practice to fall camp, ever since.

"I haven't been out there," Dye said, "but from everything I understand, they haven't left a stone unturned during this preseason."

The coaches have worked the players so hard, they've barely left an ankle unturned or a knee unbruised. The team that wasn't physical enough in the Capital One Bowl had a crash course in Toughness 101.

Listen to someone who has been out there. A senior. A starter. A potential star who got no slack from a new coordinator.

Listen to cornerback David Irons talk about Muschamp.

"If you mess up, he doesn't care if you're a starter or not, he will yell at you," Irons said.

"He'll cuss you out like my grandma cusses me out when I take a cookie out of the cookie jar."

That's the right recipe. Work hard. Stay hungry. And get lucky.

Luckily for Tuberville, his Auburn teams have been at their best during even-numbered seasons. The Tigers played in the SEC Championship Game in 2000. They started the four-year Iron Bowl winning streak in 2002. They won the SEC championship and finished unbeaten, though unfulfilled, in 2004.

In 2006, Auburn gets even. With the polls and the computers and ESPN and The New York Times and everyone around here who believes Auburn is good only when Alabama is bad.

Alabama won't be bad this year, but barring critical injuries, Auburn won't be beaten, and Auburn won't be denied.

Since expanding to 12 teams, the SEC has averaged one national championship in football every 3½ years. LSU won the last one in 2003.

It's time for someone else to go the distance.

This is Auburn's time. Kevin Scarbinsky's column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Write him at kscarbinsky@bhamnews.com.

Wow...I suddenly feel all dirty and stuff. I think I will go get a bath now.

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I certainly hope Mr. Skarbinsky has "brick proof" windows in his home and office. The west vance folks will not like this article at all.

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Well, I respect Scarbinsky. He's not a homer for either Auburn or the Forces of Evil And Darkness (FEAD). And he's not a weathervane either, just waiting to see which way the wind blows. Both put him about ten miles ahead of Finebaum.

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A big reason even years work for us is the way the SEC schedule runs these days. Even years we have most of our tough games at home; odd years, mostly on the road--compare, for example, West Vance, whose home schedule favors odd years.

One game at a time and we've got to win 'em to get to January, but Scarbinsky as reminds us: after Dye in 1983 and Tuberville in 2004, we're overdue for the cards to fall our way IF we do our part and get to the top.

However, there's still a huge amount of luck involved with the MNC or even getting to 11-1/12-0 to be in contention, so I'm not predicting anything. [unlike some fans in the western part of the state who predict, and sometimes claim, a MNC everytime they have 22 healthy players show up in the fall.]

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I really hope we go undefeated, but I'm not gonna jump to any conclusions this early in the season. That being said, I'm gonna be pissed if Auburn goes 13-0 and doesn't reach the Fiesta Bowl. If say Ohio State and Notre Dame go undefeated, those two are a lock

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