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Auburn A.D. (Jay Jacobs) Is Under Intense Criticism For Ducking UCLA

About couple of weeks ago we noted how Auburn had backed out of negotiations involving a possible college football headlining season opener with UCLA on ESPN (or ABC) to start the 2010 season. The game would have been played in the Atlanta Dome. When Auburn backed out ESPN/ABC tried to set the game up between UCLA and Georgia Tech. However, UCLA then balked (which I don't blame them for) because it would have been essentially a home game for Georgia Tech with no return engagement at the Rose Bowl.

bruinbabe2000 (who currently lives in Alabama) then pointed out how Auburn was taking a lot of heat locally for ducking UCLA by referring to Kevin Scarbinsky's column in the Birmingham News. Kevin took apart all the arguments offered by Auburn AD Jay Jacobs including the one of losing a payday due to giving up a home game:

• Losing the big payday of an eighth home game is no excuse.

Alabama played seven home games in 2008 and will again in 2009. How has that affected the bottom line?

The first thing I noticed Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium was the scoreboard in the south end zone. It was missing. In its place hung the business end of a crane, a tangible sign that another expansion is under way.

By the way, a school official said Alabama earned about $2 million for playing Clemson last year. That's not as much as Alabama or Auburn earns for a home game, but the intangible benefits - see recruiting - are priceless.

Jacobs' explanations for turning down the UCLA game don't carry the same weight as the arguments in favor of playing the Bruins next season rather than waiting until 2012 or 2013, as the AD suggested.

It would give the Auburn players extra motivation throughout the offseason. Ask the Alabama players what that edge did for them last year.

It would put Auburn in the spotlight, and let's face it. Auburn has to go the extra mile to earn national respect. It's not many miles to Atlanta, which offered a national stage in a home-away-from-home setting.

Meanwhile Kevin Donahue over at called out the excuses re. scheduling "BS. B freakin S.":

Schedules can be changed - it happens all the time, especially for games that are 17 months out. Virginia Tech pulled the trigger on a schedule change in December - just nine months out - in order to participate in this year's game in Atlanta against the Crimson Tide.

As for having one non-con BCS opponent already... who cares?! You're AUBURN. Lace em up and play. But the Tigers consistently refuse the opportunity and -- until they do -- AU is not going to have the national respect of Tennessee or Alabama, schools that have shown they aren't afraid to line up with anyone.

Perhaps the toughest criticism came from our colleague, Jay Coulter heading up - Track'em Tigers - the Auburn blog of SBN (emphasis added):

The response by Auburn fans over the news that Jacobs passed on the opportunity to play UCLA at the Georgia Dome on national television has been met with mostly outrage - and for good reason.  Considering the string of bad press that has come Auburn's way over the past six months, you'd think school officials would jump at the opportunity to be the marquee game to kickoff a football season.

When you play in the SEC with the likes of Florida, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Alabama you jump at the chance to get an advantage in exposure. The ineptness of this athletic department becomes more mind-boggling by the minute.

Forget the lame arguments being made by Jacobs for not playing the Bruins. Do you honestly believe that Arkansas State would have a problem rescheduling its game with Auburn for the following season if they were guaranteed nearly $1 million? Why not throw them a bone and offer to play them for two years if they agree to the change?

It hurts to say it, but simply put, Auburn officials wimped out.

You know it is really refreshing to see a football fan from SEC being so honest about scheduling stories instead of starting another stale, boring Pac-10/SEC scheduling debate. I frankly have been refraining from talking up this issue on the home page because I was weary of another one of those nonsensical food fights that doesn't go anywhere. So what Jay said over at Track'em Tigers is really refreshing.

I am bummed out that this matchup was nixed (at least for now). I would have really loved the opportunity to check out Atlanta (a city I have never been to) for this football game.

BTW on a side note while I really hope Auburn rethinks its position wrt to this potential matchup or UCLA extends a serious overture towards Georgia Tech for a home and home matchup. Coming to think of it while UCLA-Auburn would have been a cool matchup, Georgia Tech-UCLA would have been a fun matchup as well between two programs with similar combination of athletic/academic tradition and colorful coaches (who have innovating offensive minds).

I have mentioned here number of times how much fun I had when visiting Tuscaloosa for the UCLA-Alabama game in 2001. That was an amazing experience as a college football fan. I think the experience would have been similar if this matchup between UCLA-Auburn in Georgia would come into fruition. I didn't take the trip to South Bend because I didn't want to waste my time traveling to watch Dorrellian football. By the time 2010-11 rolls around we hould have good football team in place that should be fun to watch. So here is to talks continuing on all fronts and all involved parties exploring the best options possible for a fun matchup involving UCLA enabling all of us to take a road trip we often don't get to.