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Phillip's blog: 2010-2011 grades

Except for baseball’s postseason and the NCAA Track and Field Championships, the 2010-11 athletic year is over. How did Auburn fare across the board?

Senior Editor Phillip Marshall

The big deal, of course, is football’s national championship. At Auburn, nothing else matters nearly as much. But other sports matter just as much to those who compete.

Three Auburn teams – football, men’s swimming and diving and women’s golf – won Southeastern Conference championships. Though it’s not an NCAA sport, equestrian won a national championship.

Grading each sport:

FOOTBALL

Coach: Gene Chizik

A-plus. You can’t do more than going 14-0, winning the national championship and having back-to-back top five recruiting classes.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

Coach: Tony Barbee

C. The record wasn’t good in Barbee’s first season, but there are plenty of signs that good times are ahead for Auburn basketball.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Coach: Nell Fortner

D. Since winning the SEC championship in 2009, the Tigers have had back to back losing seasons. They collapsed down the stretch this past season.

BASEBALL

Coach: John Pawlowski

C-minus. Even this might be too high a grade, but the Tigers did make it to the SEC Tournament for a second consecutive season. It remains to be seen if they’ll make it to an NCAA regional.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Tina Deese

B. The Tigers had a really good season, going 5-2 against nationally ranked teams down the stretch and winning 40 games. But they went into a swoon in the NCAA Tournament, which is a frequent occurrence.

MEN’S GOLF

Coach: Nick Clinard
B. Clinard took over a team that finished in last place the year before his arrival and quickly made it a contender.

WOMEN’S GOLF

Coach: Kim Evans

B. This wasn’t one of Evans’ stronger teams, but the Tigers still won the SEC championship. It’s hard to argue with that.

MEN’S SWIMMING

Coach: Brett Hawke

B-plus. The Tigers won a remarkable 15th consecutive SEC championship and finished No. 6 in the NCAA Championships.

WOMEN’S SWIMMING

Coach: Brett Hawke

B. The Tigers finished No. 3 in the SEC and No. 8 in the NCAA Championships.

GYMNASTICS

Coach: Jeff Graba

C. The Tigers finished sixth out of seven teams in the SEC and finished a disappointing fourth in the Tuscaloosa Regional.

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Wade Benson (replaced by Rick Nold)

B. The Tigers earned the first NCAA Tournament bid in school history.

SOCCER

Coach: Karen Hoppa

B. Hoppa’s program is a model of consistency. The Tigers won the West last season but lost in the first round of the NCAA Torunament.

TRACK AND FIELD

Coach: Ralph Spry

C. It’s hard to evaluate teams in track because there is so little team competition. The Auburn men finished fifth in the SEC and the women sixth. This grade could go up, depending on the results of the NCAA meet.

EQUESTRIAN

Coach: Greg Williams

A. The Tigers won the national championship. Equestrian isn’t an NCAA or SEC sport, but a national championship is still impressive.

MEN’S TENNIS

Coach: Eric Shore

B. The Tigers were a top 25 all season, going 16-10 overall and 6-5 in the SEC, and advanced to the regional final before losing to Georgia.

WOMEN’S TENNIS

Coach: Tim Gray

D. It was a bad year, pure and simple. The Tigers finished 5-18 overall and 1-10 in SEC play. Not much else to say.

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