Jaguar soccer lost their second game of the season on Sunday afternoon to Auburn at Auburn Soccer Complex 3-0. USA drops to 1-2-0 while Auburn improves to 1-0-2 early in the 2009 season.
This weekend the Jags have played two outstanding teams in Auburn and Florida State. While their performance against the number 5 ranked Seminoles was a bit lack luster, they came back and played better against the Tigers. Head coach Mike Vargas mentioned this by saying, “It was a tough weekend. We played two very good teams this weekend. We competed a lot better in the second half today. We gave away two goals, but after that, we competed better and created some chances the other way. Hopefully, we learned some lessons in playing some very good teams this weekend. Florida State is a potential Final Four team, and Auburn isn’t far behind that.”
The Jags next game will be at home against Mississippi State on Friday, September 4, 7pm at The Cage.
The South Alabama volleyball team traveled to Louisiana for the Lady Techster Tournament to open play in the 2009 season. On Friday, they notched two wins to begin the season downing Arkansas-Pine Bluff 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-13) and Centenary 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-19).
Also on Friday, the Lady Jaguars soccer team traveled to Tallahassee to take on #5 ranked Florida State. The Jags came out on the losing end, falling 8-0 to the Lady Seminoles.
This evens their record for the season at 1-1-0 with their next game on Sunday, August 30 at Auburn Universtiy against the Lady Tigers starting at 2pm.
On August 12, the Mobile Press-Register writer Mike Herndon wrote a commentary article titled “South Alabama football has right approach, questionable times.” He talks about the widespread thought that Mobile is not really a great sports town, but is a good sports-event town.
In the article he points to minor-league franchises that have come and gone in Mobile. Then points out how the Senior Bowl and the GMAC Bowl have both thrive as one-game commitments each year and that USA is building up its seven game home series as events in their own right.
South Alabama has several special promotions for the games such as Parents Day on September 26 against Army Prep, Military day on October 10 against Georgia Military and the first homecoming day on November 7 against Milford Academy. Even the first football scrimmage was billed as an event for Family Fun Day.
At the time of the writing of the article, more than 6,000 season tickets had been sold and the usagameday.com website showed less than 20,000 tickets were available for the September 5th season opener against Hargrave Military Academy. A look today shows that 18,743 tickets are still available for the game.
Travis Toth, USA’s associate athletic director for marketing and promotions, said that he feels pretty good that they will fill the 40,000 seat Ladd-Peebles Stadium for the opener. But he is not going all out and saying that all seven games are going to sell out as well. “We’re not naive. We know we’ve got our hands full with that second game, third game and afterward to maintain that momentum. We’d be comfortable with 20,000 to 25,000 from there on out.”
He then talks about how that is similar to how UAB has been faring, averaging about 19,062 fans per game last year. UAB has a big struggle against the draw for the University of Alabama as well and Auburn, which will also be problem for South Alabama as well. However, I would point out that UAB has never really fully committed itself to football. It is somewhat known for its basketball program, which isn’t garnering the attention it did a few years ago either.
Birmingham and Legion Field was huge once as being the home for most of Alabama’s big football games as well as the annual Iron Bowl contest. But Birmingham became a place that you don’t really want to go to anymore. The politics there has been sketchy for years and Legion Field’s maintenance was sorely lacking. In recent years the upper decks were condemned and had to be removed, making it a shadow of its former self.
Coach Jones makes no bones about it. Alabama and Auburn have established themselves as the top two teams in the state. They can get the players they want because of the names and exposure. The other battle could be game schedules. The Jags kickoff at 4pm on September 5th with Auburn kicking off at 6pm against Louisiana Tech and Alabama takes on Virginia Tech in Atlanta at 7pm.
USA could have set a bad precident by scheduling around those two games, but they didn’t. With national broadcasts of SEC games, kickoff times change every week and moving times around could confuse some people or become something expected every week for the Jaguars. The only thing USA really scheduled around was giving fans plenty of tailgating time and avoidance of morning youth sports.
Herndon was correct that playing chicken with SEC games is something they can’t really win. USA could have scheduled the game earlier to avoid overlap with the Tide or Tigers, but realistically, should they? At some point you have to stand up and ‘be your own man.’ Its easy to record or tivo an Alabama or Auburn game these days. But when you have college football in your back yard how can you not justify going?
Mobile’s so called ‘fickle sports market’ isn’t really as fickle as one might think. I think they are looking for something they can really get behind. When the Jaguar basketball team was having a stellar season in 2007-08, the Mitchell Center was packed. But during the 2008-09 season attendance dropped off when the Jags could not produce the same results as the season before.
But basketball, and baseball for that fact, is not what Mobile is itching for. We southerners really like our football. If you haven’t been out to Ladd-Peebles Stadium in previous seasons or UMS-Wright or McGill-Toolen for high school football games, you have missed rather large crowds out there watching them play. I think the product that South Alabama and Coach Jones will put on the field this fall and in the coming years will definitely draw the ‘fickle sports fans’ out of Mobile and into the stadium. But its a step-by-step process and Mr. Herndon and I agree that USA is starting on out on the right foot.
You can read Mike Herndon’s article in its entirety on al.com here.
With Sylvester Croom’s resignation after the Egg Bowl (MS State vs Ole Miss), little has been said about their coaching search. Some of that may have been the resignation (read firing) of Coach Tubberville up in Auburn. But Mississippi State is set to have a news conference on Thursday morning to introduce its choice for their head coaching job.
Coach Croom was a defensive minded coach which was quite obvious by the Bulldog’s hard nosed defense but it sorely lacked on the offensive side of the ball. So the Bulldogs wanted to find a coach that was high-energy, a strong recruiter and has an offensive background. If Dan Mullen has agreed to become their new coach, they have found their man.
Coach Mullen’s scoring offense at Florida has moved up from 49th in Division I to 3rd in Division I. Before going to Florida as the Offensive Coordinator, he was with Coach Meyer at Utah as quarterbacks coach and worked with Alex Smith, who was a number 1 NFL draft pick. He has also worked with Chris Leak during the Gators 2006 National Championship season and has worked with Tim Tebow for his 2007 Heisman Trophy year and likely a finalist for the Heisman again this season.
It is unclear if he will stay with the Gators through the BCS Championship game against Oklahoma.
In other coaching news, students and alumni marched in support of Tuberville yesterday. About 70 turned out protest what they believe was his forced exit from Auburn after a 5-7 season and a season ending 36-0 loss to Alabama. Tuberville had won 85 games over his 10 seasons at Auburn.
Some of the people interviewed for the position are Derek Dooley, Turner Gill, Brady Hoke, Rodney Garner, Patrick Nix and Todd Graham. Other names that have been floated as possible replacements are Paul Johnson, Jimbo Fisher, Gary Patterson and Will Mushchamp.