With Auburn being on top of the college football world for the moment and fans looking forward to an entertaining trip to Oxford this weekend, Auburn fans might have another silver lining in the future.
This has been a year heavily influenced by good fortune in the Auburn football program. Fate has been smiling on the Plains.
First there was the wise influence of Cam Newton’s father that steered him to the plains. He is now a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy and quarterbacking the No. 1 team in college football.
Then offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn decided to remain at Auburn while being considered by various teams to fill their vacant head coaching positions. This allowed one of the nation's best quarterback coaches to develop the nation’s most talented quarterback for at least one year.
Nick Fairley teamed with coach Tracy Rocker in a similar fashioin. Can anyone deny the positive influence of the best defensive lineman in Auburn history on Fairley’s development?
Now Auburn fans seem to be facing the loss of much of that good fortune. With 24 seniors graduating, the future already looks difficult. The success of Newton and Fairley has garnered the interest of NFL Scouts and pundits alike. Both players will likely be highly regarded in the NFL draft next year.
2011 was already anticipated as a hard year for Auburn. The last failed recruiting class of the previous head coach will be seniors. While 26 juniors appear on the official roster; many of them are walk-ons or role players.
Auburn will lose four starting offensive linemen, two defensive tackles, two defensive ends, two starting linebackers, two receivers and one running back off of this currently top-ranked team to graduation. Losing 13 regular contributors is bad enough, but losing two more juniors to the NFL draft would be much worse.
There could be a silver lining in this scenario for Auburn. Due to a very fortuitous chain of events, it appears the NFL season for next year is actually in doubt.
We all know some kind of agreement will be reached eventually. We also do not know what this agreement will be. This is not the best environment for a young NFL player to start his career.
The seniors will have no choice, but most of the juniors will likely decide to stay the course until they see a more stable environment to step into. If Cam Newton, Nick Fairley and Darvin Adams return, 2011 begins to look more promising.
All Auburn fans want what is best for the players they have enjoyed watching so much. In this case the best move for them could well be to remain on the plains.