Aubserver Mailbag 82: Future Shock
This week: Auburn's most interesting 2022 game, future scheduling, predicting the future, Walker Kessler, korfball, FTR, and the June Employee of the Month award
RB Tank Bigsby (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Sometimes I think I’m going to have a quiet afternoon to write a mailbag.
And then news breaks that the Big Ten are trying to pull two schools from Los Angeles in their efforts to keep up with the SEC.
This is coming on the one-year anniversary of college athletes being able to take advantage of NIL money. As friend of the newsletter David Ubben tweeted Thursday afternoon, when so many people got up in arms about the players who actually do the playing of the sport being able to get some of the money that they generate for others “destroying college football,” it was actually the institutional greed from the adults in charge that was doing it:
Now, with reports coming out that the SEC and Big Ten might race to get to 20 or more schools in a real super-conference era — one that might lead to the separation of big-money college football from the rest of the pack — it feels like college athletics as we know it is changing forever. And it’s a reminder about what really makes the sports world go ‘round and what is really pushing to change everything, for better or for worse.
With that in mind, this week’s mailbag tackles a number of topics related to the big news of the week: a game involving a certain Big Ten team for Auburn football, future schedules in the wake of SEC expansion and television money. You also sent in questions about the NBA Draft, what’s next for Auburn basketball, the World Games and spending time in Birmingham.
Which football game are you most excited to watch/most interesting game on paper for Auburn this year?
I would have to say the game that interests me the most is the first interesting one on the schedule — Penn State in Week 3. With all of the offseason drama and the personnel changes, what does Auburn look like when it isn’t in a paycheck game?
One of the things that hasn’t been talked about enough is how Auburn isn’t the only team in this matchup that fell apart late last season after a quarterback injury. Penn State started 5-0 and was once No. 4 in the country. It only won two out of its last eight games, which included a 14-point bowl loss to Arkansas. Penn State hasn’t been great at the line of scrimmage recently, and that’s still a major question mark heading into 2022.
Of course, Penn State brings back its experienced quarterback in Sean Clifford, while Bo Nix transferred out. And while it’s unclear how much of an early impact it will have, the Nittany Lions picked up some major momentum this offseason with a top-10 recruiting class. Still, both of these teams have a lot to prove after disappointing years, and Auburn will get home-field advantage this time around.
If Auburn doesn’t beat Penn State, it’ll have to pick itself off the mat quickly in home games against Missouri and LSU. If Auburn wins to improve to 3-0. there’s a real chance for Harsin and his program to get a lot of people on board for the SEC slate. This one game won’t make or break the season, but I think it could go a long way in setting the tone for the fall as a whole.