7 at 7: Sporting News ranks 10 best Tigers on the gridiron, SI chronicles Bret Bielema's swift fall from grace (w/links)

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 27, 2014 

Nov. 26, 2010: Auburn 28-27

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton (2) celebrates with teammate Nick Fairley (90) following a 28-27 win over Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2010.

PHOTO BY DAVE MARTIN — AP

AUBURN, Ala. — If anyone tuned in to watch the Auburn/South Carolina men's basketball game Wednesday night, it was quite a spectacle. And I mean that in the worse way possible in a sporting sense.

The few fans that witnessed the game in person — all 4,434 of them, a record-low for an SEC men's game since Auburn Arena opened in 2010 — were subjected to a foul fest. The officials called 53 personal fouls, which included a pair of technicals against the Tigers. And in a sad twist, that record-low crowd lost a member when an Auburn fan sitting along the baseline (season ticket holder Michael Hardin) was ejected from the game by referee Ted Valentine. Afterward, Hardin told reporters he said nothing vulgar to Valentine. Whatever Hardin's actions or words were, however, Valetine deemed them enough to be tossed.

And it is here where I must shift gears for a moment; I know officials are human. They are going to make mistakes. And complaining about officiating is "reaching for the 'low hanging fruit,'" as they say. But in a case as egregious as this, Valentine and the rest of the crew deserve every bit of condemnation aimed their way.

People buy tickets to watch athletes make great plays, not to see how many times a ref can whistle for a foul.

But we've spent enough time talking about a game between two of the worst teams in the SEC. Time to move on.

Links await, after all.

1. Lists are a favorite here at 7 at 7, not only because it's fun to rank things, but because they also generate discussion, for better or worse. On Wednesday, Sporting News weighed in with its take on the top 10 players in the history of Auburn football. The first three shouldn't be hard to figure out, but what about the rest of the list? Do you think they did a good job? (One note: Sporting News hedged a bit, including 11 names on this list as they decided to count one duo together.)

2. When Bret Bielema was at Wisconsin, nary a bad word was said about the coach. But since taking over at Arkansas, about the only good thing he's been able to do is rub people the wrong way with his tone-deaf comments and questionable swipes at his coaching peers. What happened in the span of a year? Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel tries to lend some insight.

3. The folks over at SB Nation and FootballScoop held a college head coach draft on Wednesday. Yes, it was every bit as awesome as it sounds. (And yes, Auburn fans, Gus Malzahn was a top-five pick.) Check out the coaching staffs for each of the 10 participants, and if you're so inclined, leave a comment below this article giving your take on which person did the best job assembling a staff.

4. Duck Commander (yes, the people on the show "Duck Dynasty") have agreed to take over sponsorship of the Independence Bowl, which was called the AdvoCare V100 Bowl last season. Well, the duck callers have returned "Independence Bowl" to the game's title, with the logo for the contest being released on Wednesday.

My take? I think the logo looks pretty doggone good.

5. Given the sorry state of men's hoops in the SEC, I wouldn't give a second thought to hiring Bruce Pearl to run my program if I had an opening. But how much does the former Tennessee coach — whose three-year suspension for lying to the NCAA will end Aug. 23 — still care about jumping back into the profession? He told USA Today's Laken Litman that he loves his job as a studio analyst at ESPN while at the same time not closing the door on returning to the coaching ranks.

6. Any time a big-name coach is willing to star in a campy commercial, count me in.

And it should come as no surprise that accomplished Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo would do a commercial dancing on a ladder. Heck, for a guy who constantly keeps fans guessing with his Midnight Madness hijinks every year, this ad for Werner Ladders is downright tame.

7. Why not end on one more video? One of the greatest music artists of all-time, Johnny Cash, would have celebrated his 82nd birthday on Wednesday. His catalog is so extensive, it's hard to pick just one to close today's 7 at 7.

Arguably one of his most powerful songs was one of his last: "Hurt," a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song by the same name.

The introspective (and reflective) lyrics are accompanied by a stunning video, which you will find below.

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