On December 27 I first noted Auburn head football coach Gene Chizik’s refusal to confirm his entire roster of players as academically eligible for the BCS Championship Game against Oregon on Jan. 10 in Arizona.
(Nearly month after AU semester ended, Chizik confirmed all players eligible)
Monday, all Auburn players on the current roster traveled to Arizona to continue prepping for the big game. After the team arrived in Phoenix, Chizik refused to address a reporter’s question about possible academic eligibility issues facing the team.
Tuesday at a press conference Chizik again was mum when asked if he would not have his full complement of players due to academics.
Finally, two weeks after publicly broaching the possibility that Auburn could face academic casualties for the BCS Championship Game, Chizik broke his silence on the subject.
From an interview on ESPN-TV’s Jim Rome Is Burning
“Gene, is every one of your guys going to be eligible for this game?”
“We are, we’re ready to go Jim and it’s really good that you can finish the SEC Championship Game with a roster that you basically started the year with and be able to come into the national championship game with the same roster. So we’re good to go.”
Chizik’s confirmation that all Auburn players were academically eligible echoed a similar indication from Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs on Tuesday.
Despite an assurance from Auburn that its players are academically fit for NCAA championship football play, ESPN’s Pat Forde indicated a certain unease about the situation on ESPN Radio’s Scott Van Pelt show today.
Scott Van Pelt show co-Host Ryen Russillo:
“How many players on Auburn had to have a grade change to be eligible for the national title game?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t know. There’s been a lot of talk and a lot of chatter about who was eligible and who wasn’t eligible and Auburn has said that all of its players are eligible. Apparently there had to be some appeals for some grades. Who those players are (who were appealing for changed grades) and how many, nobody’s given any concrete numbers.”
“… (chuckle) You’re watching this and saying that it’s almost like we’re too far inside the sausage factory right now. We’re figuring out exactly how things get done. Maybe these are completely above board, perfectly fine grade changes that would be justifiable for any student on campus.
“But it leaves you with a little bit of a squishy feeling that it’s almost like anything we have to do to get these guys on the field we’re willing to do.”
“A squishy feeling“?
Auburn did that to me too, only it happened two years ago.