Randy Smith: FBI Investigation Still Looms At Auburn

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - by Randy Smith
When the story broke about the wind-ranging FBI investigation in college basketball in October, Auburn was one of several NCAA schools being looked at for colluding with shoe companies who were paying blue-chip players to sign with schools under their contracts. That investigation has already cost Auburn an assistant coach, (Chuck Person) and two players. You have to understand that former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl is now at Auburn and is still a part of that ongoing investigation. That's unfortunate for Coach Pearl because he has already been in trouble with the NCAA a few years ago, costing him his job at Tennessee.
That turmoil hasn't really sunk in on the Tigers because they are 17-2 and ranked in the top-25. Auburn had a nation's best 14 game win streak snapped this past weekend. Still, the Tigers are just one win away from equaling last year's total of 18 wins, and they're doing it with one of the most undersized teams in the nation.

Auburn is currently ranked 305th of 351 Division One teams in average height which is usually a measuring stick for a team's success. Obviously that's not true in the Tiger's case. 
"You can't just sit back and wait for teams to fail, " Pearl said following a Tiger victory this season.  "You have to force the issue. You have to make plays offensively and defensively and that's what this team is doing."

The SEC media wasn't sold on Auburn in the pre-season as they were picked ninth in the polls. One guy even predicted the Tigers to finish 4-14 in league play. So far, that prediction has been a rallying cry around the program.  These current Tigers have improved and progressed past all expectations. Last season in winning 18 games, the top four scorers were all freshmen. This season those freshmen are all sophomores, and even though Auburn is ranked in the top twenty in scoring offense nationally, not a single Tiger is among the top 100 scorers. If this team can continue to improve and progress, it will mean a better seeding for the Big Dance in March. Right now only a complete collapse over the next thirteen games or a major move in that FBI investigation will keep Auburn out of the NCAA Tournament.

That FBI investigation isn't going away. It has already cost Louisville's Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino his job as well as several other assistant coaches. Its scope is wide-ranging and while Bruce Pearl has done a great job coaching on the floor, he reportedly has been silent in dealing with Auburn administration. " You have limitations and yet I will never be false or misleading, " Pearl said. " There are a lot of things I can't say and a lot of things I don't know. In fact,  a lot of the things in this investigation I don't know about."

When he got in hot water at Tennessee, his biggest mistake was not being truthful from the beginning. I certainly hope he doesn't repeat that same mistake.   

* * *
Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

Lookouts Fall (3-2) In 10th Inning Walk-Off By Biloxi Saturday

The Biloxi Shuckers (26-17) grabbed their second walk-off victory of the season in extra innings on Saturday night against the Chattanooga Lookouts (28-15) with a 3-2 win. The Lookouts have a 3 1/2 game lead over second-place Jackson in the North Division, while Biloxi has a 3 1/2 game lead over Mobile in the South Divisioon The Shuckers scored two runs to counter Chattanooga's ... (click for more)

Dalton State's Lee Named 1st Team All-American

PING First-Team All-America honorees for NAIA were announced by the GCAA following the NAIA Championships.   First-Team All-Americans   Alec Dutkowski, Taylor Jack Dyer, Keiser Mark David Johnson, Coastal Georgia Rupert Kaminski, Oklahoma City Newport Laparojkit, South Carolina Beaufort SM Lee, Dalton State Rowan Lester, ... (click for more)

Man And Woman Killed In Sunday Morning Shooting At Hixson Gas Station

A man and a woman were killed in a Sunday morning shooting at a gas station in Hixson. The shooting was shortly after 10 a.m. at a Shell station at Hixson Pike and Brookaire. The woman was dead at the scene. The man was rushed to a hospital, but died there. (click for more)

$2,060,705 Tennessee Cash Jackpot Won In South Pittsburg Friday Night

A Tennessee Cash player in South Pittsburg won a near-record jackpot of $2,060,705 on  Friday  night. A Knoxville Powerball player won $50,000  Saturday  night by matching four of the five white numbers drawn plus the red Powerball. No information is available about the winners until the prizes are claimed. The  $315.3 million ... (click for more)

Brown V. Board (1954) 64 Years Late: Our Schools At A Crossroads

May 17, 1954 is a date forever etched upon the annals of American history because on that pivotal day the Supreme Court would affirm in the decision of Brown v. Board (1954). “We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This ruling overturned the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Same Family Tree

When it was learned the UnifiEd Foundation was a left-wing crowd of political organizers rather than a group with the sole intent of bettering public education in Hamilton County, several other liberal groups fell under scrutiny and it is uncanny how many of the same few people are intertwined in a county of 360,000 people. Or, as one critic succinctly said, “They are all from ... (click for more)