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Headlinin’: A cold exit for Bobby Lowder, Auburn’s man behind the curtain

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Making the morning rounds.

Our long institutional nightmare is over. Bobby Lowder, the former Colonial Bank CEO whose reign over Auburn football enshrined him as the Emperor Palpatine of the SEC, has formally withdrawn his name for consideration for a new term on the university's board of trustees in the face of mounting opposition from fellow Auburn boosters and state politicians.

For years, Lowder routinely topped the occasional lists of college football's "most powerful" boosters, and if his influence was ever overstated, his infamy certainly was not: Before his bank collapsed in 2009, Lowder was at the center of the pay-for-play scheme that landed Auburn on probation in the early nineties, lent his personal plane to the epic Jetgate scandal in an effort to clandestinely replace coach Tommy Tuberville in 2003 and reportedly drove coach Terry Bowden to have his house checked for electronic bugs. (There have been more than a few efforts to link Lowder to the pay-for-pay scandal that erupted last season over Heisman-bound quarterback Cam Newton, but so far these have been more entertaining than definitive.)

Lowder has served on the board of trustees since 1983, and if he can no longer run the Tigers like his own professional franchise from an official capacity, there are no shortage of back channels for his beleaguered tentacles to probe. But it will no longer be as a representative of Auburn. [Opelika-Auburn News, Birmingham News]

Imagine if he wasn't oversigning. Houston Nutt is known as one of college football's most enthusiastic and unrepentant oversigners, but it hasn't helped him keep the roster numbers up: With Monday's dismissal of linebacker Clarence Jackson and Delvin Jones in the wake of a weekend arrest for public intoxication, Ole Miss is down to 76 scholarship players on course to play this fall, nine below the 85-man NCAA limit.{YSP:MORE}

Jackson and Jones were both part of Ole Miss' 22-man signing class in 2010, which has now been whittled to 13 remaining members in a little over a year. Not including the 2011 class, the Rebels signed a whopping 92 players to letters of intent over Nutt's first three seasons (2008-10). Less than 50 of that number remain on the current roster for 2011, a staggering attrition rate that could easily exceed 50 percent by the end of the year. [Clarion-Ledger]

I'm back, part one. The Wichita Eagle had a feel-good profile over the weekend of Kansas defensive end D.J. Marshall, who returned to spring practice last month after a year-long battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Marshall was diagnosed in the fall of 2009 and completed chemotherapy last year, but wasn't cleared for contact in time to play last season. "I came here to build a legacy as a football player and help us win championships," he said after the Jayhawks' spring game on April 30, in which he emerged from a "tentative" effort over the course of the spring to notch a tackle for loss and a sack on consecutive snaps. "I had extenuating circumstances, and I wanted to be that guy that could prove that it's possible to come back from that. I want people to know that I can play with anybody." [Wichita Eagle]

I'm back, part two. Former Oregon offensive lineman Hamani Stevens — a solid four-star recruit who originally signed with the Ducks in 2008 before moving to the Philipines for a two-year Mormon mission — returned to the States last week and has contacted coaches about rejoining the team for the upcoming season. "I'm ready to play some ball," said Stevens, who has also been in contact with the academic support staff about re-enrolling at the university. "I'm really excited." He should be: With three graduating seniors (Jordan Holmes, C.E. Kaiser and Bo Thran) who logged nearly 100 starts between them over the last three years, it's open season for fresh bodies up front.[Eugene Register Guard]

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Start your turducken signs now. As expected, the Ducks' blockbuster opening-night tilt with LSU in Cowboys Stadium will effectively be an LSU home game: The Tiger athletic department announced Monday that it's distributed a school-record 37,000 tickets for the game, vastly exceeding the 24,000 it was originally allotted. "We have never seen this type of demand for a regular-season game," said spokesman Brian Broussard. "There is obviously a great deal of excitement surrounding this game, and it's a tribute our passionate fan base that we were able to sell our entire allotment." [Dallas Morning News]

Eh, we get by. In other news from the top of the ivory tower, only a quarter of college presidents at four-year public universities say college athletics has a positive financial impact on their institutions, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center — almost as many (22 percent) as said sports has a negative financial impact. A majority (42 percent) maintained that sports didn't affect their universities' finances one way or the other. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

Quickly… Maryland quarterback Tyler Smith transfers to Elon. … Ex-Penn State running back Austin Scott accuses authorities of creating a "culture of prosecuting football players." … The man hired to singlehandedly revamp the "Road to Glory" mode in EA Sports' NCAA Football series was once a scout-teamer at Auburn. … Illinois athletic Ron Guenther plans to retire after 19 years. … And now that he's a pro, ex-Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams - - -
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