Former Tiger Rips Reports Critical of Auburn

Opelika, Ala.--Tommy Jackson, a standout at noseguard for the Auburn football team the past four seasons, says he is furious about what he calls inaccurate media reports attempting to portray the AU football program's academic successes in a negative light.

A rookie with the Atlanta Falcons, Jackson earned a degree in public administration last August just weeks before the start of the 2005 football season.

"To me it is a witch hunt," Jackson tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I am so sick of people trying to find problems with Auburn. I went to school there and I got my degree there. Nobody is going to cheapen my degree. I know what I did to get it. I earned my degree in three years and I get very upset about this. I know how much work I did to get it.

"I refuse to let somebody come in and tell me we didn't earn our grades and our degrees," Jackson adds. "I saw guys going to work, going to school doing what we had to do to be successful academically.

A two-time All-SEC selection, Jackson was signed by the Falcons as a free agent. He has been working out with the National Football League team, but is currently back home in Opelika taking a break.

"We have got to report to camp on the 26th," Jackson says. "They gave us a week and a half off. It is good to get back home and rest up a bit. It has been fun."

Jackson is shown on his graduation day last August. He and eight other teammates began the 2005 season already having earned undegraduate degrees.

Jackson says he is enjoying the challenge of trying to make an NFL roster. "A lot of people are very skilled at their job in the NFL," he says. "You have to go in and work hard, just like in college. If you bring your work ethic with you, you will do fine."

The fact that the Falcons play a 4-3 front, the same alignment Auburn uses, is helping him make the transition to the pro game, says Jackson, who adds, "I am blessed to have an opportunity to play with the Falcons. I am going to work hard and do my job and hope things work out. I think playing NFL football will be a lot of fun. I can't wait to do it.

"I feel like I am playing well," the rookie says. "Coach has been happy with the things I have been doing."

Jackson has had the opportunity to talk to some of his teammates who are not allowed to comment on academics by orders of the coaching staff, which can't comment until AU interim president Ed Richardson's committee completes an investigation of the school's sociology program and its relationship with athletes. Jackson says anyone who would say that Auburn athletes aren't earning their grades is clueless about the situation.

"I am proud of my school and the football program," he says. "It is crazy to me for somebody to try to cheapen it or take away from us what we have done academically. We have done just as much in the classroom as we have done on the football field. It is a shame people try to take it away from you."

Jackson says that head coach Tommy Tuberville and his staff put a major emphasis on academic performance for every player. "With Auburn football, if you don't work hard in the classroom you won't play and that is how serious the coaches are about it," he says.

"So many of our players in recent years have played their senior seasons having already earned their degrees. That is a testament to the hard work they have done academically. It absolutely sickens me that people would try to cheapen what we have done. I know we have worked hard for it. Everybody who has been here knows we have worked hard for it. Anyone who tries to say otherwise, shame on them."

2006 Inside the Auburn Tigers Auburn Football Guide

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