08 August 2008
"It was just setting an example to the freshmen," said Etheridge, who added he has not spoken with Furr recently. "It wasn't nothing like bumping heads. It was just showing them that we're here to work and get to the championship." Asked what specifically happened that led to the fight, Etheridge elaborated further. "It's just that everyone was tired," he said. "The heat was bothering everyone. He just didn't push himself hard, but other than that, (it) got the other freshmen to learn and they picked it up today."So, the fight was started intentionally by Etheridge. He freely admits that, and he's made himself enforcer for the Tigers, It was not "tempers boiling over on a hot summer day" as so many have indicated. When asked about it, Tuberville told Ray Mellick:
"We don't encourage anything other than competition," Tuberville said. "Our rule is that no other players are to get involved in a fight; that helmets stay on; and the coaches break it up. I don't want to see players fight. I'd rather they use that energy to compete with each other the right way."But Tubby talks out of both sides of his mouth here. Earlier in the same column:
"Football is a fight," said Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville. "Every down is a fight. Every practice is a fight. Especially in August."So, which is it Coach? Do you not want players to fight - or did you order the code red? It certainly seems like that kind of behavior is encouraged. Etheridge is a starting safety, has admitted to picking a fight, and there's been no mention of any discipline. Why not coach, if you don't encourage anything other than competition? The lack of punishment certainly seems like tacit approval. There are varying reports as to the severity of the fight. We know that Furr didn't practice again after the scuffle - he reportedly "stumbled woozily" off the field and spent the afternoon in the trainer's tent. Tuberville, surpisingly, downplayed it, saying "That wasn't a fight. It was more of a tussle." Thanks for the clarification, Coach. And before we move on - despite what some fans say - let's make it clear - Deron Furr is not a bad kid:
Ideally, Furr will settle on a new destination in the next couple weeks, sit out this season as a redshirt freshman and have four more years of eligibility remaining. He'll have ample time to regain his confidence and start fresh. "DeRon is going to learn from this," DeRon Sr. said. "It's going to do nothing but make him stronger." Tuberville said he hopes Furr prospers, wherever he happens to wind up this fall. "He's a good kid," Tuberville said.You won't find him anywhere saying anything derogatory about Auburn or Tuberville. He (and his family) have handled this with as much class as anyone could hope. The same can't be said for Auburn fans who have apparently littered his Facebook page with nasty-grams. Nice work guys. The second issue revolves around Deron Furr's recruitment. Part of Furr's irritation was apparently built around being moved to safety this spring. During the recruiting process, Auburn gave Furr the impression he'd be a QB - one of the reasons he went there instead of FSU (subscription required):
When he has spoken to Jody Allen, who is handling his recruitment, he said that the Seminoles are interested in him using his athleticism on the defensive side of the ball. "He told me they are interested in me as a free safety, strong safety, or outside linebacker," Furr said. The Tigers, who are recruiting Furr as a quarterback, had had a significant change on the staff with the hiring of a new offensive coordinator in Tony Franklin. Despite the fact that Franklin runs a spread offense, Furr's opinion of Auburn hasn't changed. "The offense is similar to the offense I already run," he said. "It sets me up to use my athleticism in the offense."So, he thought he was going to be the next Pat White, and less than a week into the fall, he's at safety. In all fairness, he did report to Auburn in the spring. Still, it's not the first time Auburn has done this with a talented athlete. Karlos Dansby got this same consideration a few years ago, when he was recruited as a receiver. The balance of the world wanted him on defense, but Tubby promised to let him play offense, and he headed to the Plains. The rest is history. He's a linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals now - so you might say that it worked out for him. But he's not even at Auburn if not for the promise of offense. These sorts of issues generally work themselves out. It's only a matter of time before negative recruiting makes this a self-correcting issue. Deron Furr just brought that time a bit closer for Tubberville and company.
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