You’ve seen them.
Maybe they were sitting in the corner booth at Andy’s, near the window at McDonald’s, or camped out near the bathroom of some mom and pop roadside diner.
Grey-haired, huddled over cups of steaming coffee and the morning’s newspaper, these men speak in quiet tones for hours. Whatever the topic, they know it inside and out. They know the people who call the shots, and they know their grandchildren too.
When it comes to Alabama and Auburn athletics, these are the kind of circles I imagine Wimp Sanderson runs in. The former University of Alabama basketball coach has plenty of friends in powerful places – guys like Jimmy Rane, who’s on Auburn’s board of trustees, and Pat Dye, the former Auburn head football coach. Sanderson is a featured guest on four regional sports radio stations.
So I feel he’s qualified to speak on behalf of the speculation that next year Bobby Petrino will coach Auburn. Speculation that has only been fueled by current Arkansas coach John L. Smith and SEC blogger conspiracists.
“They’re not gonna make a change at Auburn,” Sanderson said in a phone interview. “I know what I’m talking about.” It might have been the worst September in the history of the Auburn football, but that 1-3 start isn’t enough to get Tigers’ head coach Gene Chizik canned.
For starters, ”it would be very difficult to let somebody go who’s won the national championship in the last four years,” said Sanderson, a Birmingham resident. Moreover, a coaching change would jeopardize an extremely strong incoming recruiting class – ranked #7 in ESPN’s rankings. Finally, Chizik is receiving plenty public support from Dye and Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs, who played football under Dye.
With Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M still on its schedule, Auburn won’t have an easy time making a bowl game this year. When it comes to Chizik’s job security, though, his most dangerous game may be his next one.
If, on October 6th, Chizik loses to a sputtering, Bobby Petrino-less Arkansas, no amount of friends in high places may save him.
Where did this former Auburn football player go?
Without doubt, Auburn running back Michael Dyer is the most famous graduate of Little Rock Christian Academy.
That connection will be mentioned ad nauseum this week considering the Little Rock native’s importance in the Arkansas-Auburn game on Saturday night.
But Dyer hasn’t been the only Auburn Tiger and Little Rock Christian alum making headlines in recent months.
In March, Auburn freshman Dakota Mosley was kicked off the college national championship team with three Auburn teammates after arrests on charges of robbery, theft and burglary in an alleged holdup of other college students.
According to victims’ reports, those three other Auburn teammates stormed into a trailer park residence and took cell phones and a safe at gunpoint. A short while later, police found Mosley, along with the three teammates, in a car from which they recovered a handgun, an air gun and the stolen property.
Each of the four ex-players was charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and third-degree theft of property in connection with the alleged robbery.
They are scheduled to go on trial during a three-week criminal session in Alabama beginning Oct. 31.
In all this tumult, not much had been written about how Dyer felt about one of his best friends going through such an ordeal. While interviewing Dyer’s uncle Andre Dyer for an article about torn loyalties, I found out that he’s close to Mosley’s dad. He told me Dakota Mosley is currently in a junior college in California. “He’s doing really well,” Andre Dyer said. “He’s really straightened his life out a lot. Everything is going really well with him. I’m proud of him.”
How has Michael reacted to Dakota’s absence?
“He really misses his friend, his good friend, his dear friend. That one person who’s always been there for him through thick and thin. He misses that person beside him.”
Mosley’s friendship was “a lot of the whole recruiting process… and the whole process of being a freshman in a big place, and to know that that’s gone? It does get to him. They try to stay in contact as often as they are permitted to do so.”
(UPDATE: Evan Woodbery of al.com gives a detailed update on Mosley and the other three former players here)