April 18, 2014
Bo Jackson relaxes, talks about the good times at Auburn on Friday (Zach Bland photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — They were arguing. You know, in a good-natured way. Who was the best Auburn Tiger of them all? Bo Jackson? Charles Barkley? Frank Thomas?
Barkley, of course, volunteered it was him.
"We allow him to think that way," chuckled Jackson, on a highlight of ESPN's upcoming "Bo, Barkley and The Big Hurt," and in person on campus Friday.
ESPN used Friday to showcase Jackson and to talk about the new SEC Network, which will debut in August. That's where "Bo, Barkley and The Big Hurt" will air. That's also where Auburn's season-opener against Arkansas on Aug. 30 will be televised, the network announced Friday.
Jackson was on hand Friday to help sell the network, his Bo Bikes Bama project that will pedal through Auburn on Saturday, give advice to Auburn students and talk Gus Malzahn football.
Jackson said last year's Auburn football season was "fun."
"And I think the next two years are going to be more fun than last year."
Sorry, Charles Barkley, but that's high praise from the man voted the greatest athlete of all time in the USA just last year. Jackson said he remembered learning of that honor when he was watching television with his wife in their Chicago home.
"I'm lying across the bed. She's sitting the recliner," Jackson said.
"You know that driveway is not going to plow itself," Jackson joked.
Jackson and 500 riders will bike through Auburn on Saturday morning to raise money for the Governor's Emergency Relief Fund that helps Alabamians hit by disasters. The ride, a prelude to the A-Day Game in Jordan-Hare Stadium at 2 p.m., will begin at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. Cyclists can opt for the 62-mile ride or the 22-mile ride. Details are here.
Other Bo Jackson topics:
•On athletes returning to campus.
"It gives me great joy to see the older guys coming back and mentoring and talking to the young guys."
•On his relationship with Malzahn.
"We get along good enough that when he calls me I answer and when I call him, he answers. That's good. I know I can walk in his office without knocking."
•On walking away from the sports spotlight after his playing days.
He even called himself a recluse.
But, he added, "I do things you would never think I would do."
He owns a bank, a sports complex, started a food company and will visit an insurance company in Atlanta "to talk about plastics."
"Gaming to plastics to food to banking. It's good to have options.
"I like the fact that every day I learn something new in the business world that I didn't know yesterday."
•ESPN had the first crack at an audience mostly comprised journalism, communications and broadcasting students. Representatives talked of how to get in the broadcasting business. Another emphasis was selling the SEC Network.
Auburn has already made a big investment, both in money and plans, for the network's debut.
The network confirmed it will kick off with Texas A&M at South Carolina on Aug. 28, followed by Arkansas at Auburn two days later from Jordan-Hare Stadium. A kickoff time was not announced.
Only AT&T U-verse and Dish have reached agreement to televise the SEC Network.
"We'll continue to discuss with other carriers. We need for people to tell providers that they want it. The demand for the network is there," said ESPN vice president for production Stephanie Druly.
The SEC Network will televise 45 football games this fall, and ESPN, which is running the venture, stressed the new network is the only place to watch them.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: