Well. This sucks.

Let’s not pretend that the last 48 hours have been anything but awful for the Auburn Tigers. We went from riding the high of the first one-and-done player in program history to one with zero tournament hopes and an all-conference caliber point guard in eligibility limbo. 

Things aren’t great, and the bad news just seems to keep coming. At least one member of the national media is openly reveling in our apparent demise, not to mention the smug glee coming from the other side of the state. Twitter is rife with hot takes about Bruce Pearl and predictions of setbacks (and worse) for Auburn basketball..

I won’t sugar coat it, those predictions might be right.

Of course, on the actual merits of our case, this one year postseason ban should more than atone for the sins of Chuck Person. 

Oklahoma State faced similar allegations and received a similar punishment, and besides, our transgressions were in neaux way close to the worst to come from the 2017 FBI probe. But, then again, the NCAA has more than earned their reputation for inconsistency, and this is 2020…

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For me personally, the pandemic began in earnest when the SEC chose to cancel the Men’s Basketball Conference Tournament this past March. Before that moment, this seemed to me just like swine flu or Ebola outbreaks that I lived through in the past – something that happened to people on the news, not to me. It wasn’t until I lost my senior year of Auburn postseason basketball that I truly understood the gravity of this moment in history.

This year’s team was supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel, a small but necessary respite from the collective trauma this wretched year has wrought on us. Now, it feels as though the sins of coaches past have torn away even that faint glimmer of joy. 

Truly, this year is cursed.

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So yeah, things are pretty bleak right now for us, as fans, but you have to feel even worse for the players. The men who will take the court in the orange and blue this week probably believed that this scandal was behind them, and to see the possibility of a postseason berth ripped from them for two seasons in a row is gut wrenching. 

What I object to, though, is that this season is somehow meaningless without the possibility of a title. 

Has Pearl spoiled us so rotten so quickly? Has Auburn, a team whose last coach was Tony-flippin-Barbee, a team whose last NCAA berth before Pearl came in 2003, a team that until recently couldn’t fill a ten thousand person arena, become so spoiled by greatness that we’ve forgotten how to have fun?

This team has so much to play for, and there are so many reasons to be excited for them. Remember how Devan Cambridge and Jaylin Williams emerged as stars late last year? Won’t it be cool to see how they’ve developed after a summer in the gym? Aren’t you excited to watch Justin Powell, (hopefully) Sharife Cooper, and Turbo Jones try to one up each other’s highlight reel assists? Doesn’t the thought of Stretch Akingbola absolutely posterizing some poor defender from the likes of Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Georgia, or Alabama excite you?

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I find my thoughts drifting back to the greatest piece of literature in the Auburn Athletics canon. Back in 2017, Spencer Hall, despite being a Florida man by birth, education, and overall demeanor, wrote the single most Auburn thing that has ever existed.

This article preceded one of the greatest two-game runs in the history of Auburn football, and it’s absolutely worth a read on its own, but the thrust of the article can be summarized in just one line –

“[Auburn], It’s time for you to ruin things.”

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This season has certainly lost a bit of its luster by having the tournament preemptively stripped of us, but don’t tell me that this team has nothing to play for.

It seems ironic in light of recent events, but Pearl said it best on Wednesday – “Character Matters”. And let me tell ya, these men have that in SPADES. 

This team will take the court every night and play their asses off for no reason other than that they play for Auburn and they can absolutely wreck the other guy’s night. 

Keep your doom and gloom takes to yourself, because I can’t wait to see Auburn completely ruin another team’s season. 

Is Bama on the bubble again? Is Kentucky in contention for a one seed? Has Rick Barnes forgotten that he continues to be absolutely owned by Bruce Pearl? 

How excited is Ole Miss Assistant Coach Marshall Henderson to make his return to Auburn Arena? Can Auburn beat either of the top two teams in the country? 

There are a lot of high hopes in this league, and it’ll be a blessing to watch this team absolutely ruin every one of them, because if this pandemic has taught me one thing, it’s that every night I get to watch this team play is a blessing.

The league is on notice for 2022. Until then, it’s ankle biting szn, y’all. Let’s go ruin a Bama fan’s night.

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