Would Twain Buy Football Players?

Auburn and Mark Twain have been in the news recently. It seems that an Auburn professor has decided that he can improve "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by making it politically correct. To say that most Twain scholars disagree is an understatement.

But I am not here to promote yet another black eye for Auburn. I bring up Mark Twain because I was reminded of one of his thoughts yesterday.

"It takes an enemy and a friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart. The one to slander you, and the other to get the news to you," Twain wrote.

I was not hurt to the heart by slander that appeared on an Auburn Internet site this week. I was more amused, as usually is the case. And a little perplexed.

Earlier this week I had written a column regarding Alabama recruiting. I did not mention Auburn, although discussion of players being bought may have hit a sore spot with Auburn fans. After all, Auburn does have an irrefutable history of buying football players. We were reminded of that in the 2010 season as Auburn won a national championship. Auburn's other national championship in 1957 was tainted because Auburn was on probation for buying players.

This year's Auburn team has been castigated from coast-to-coast, in virtually all newspapers save those in the state of Alabama. It is no longer frontpage news that almost everyone who follows college football believes that Cam Newton was paid for. Almost no one believes that Newton's father, Cecil, tried to sell Cam to Mississippi State and other schools, and then elected to direct his son to Auburn for no pay.

Where's the proof? scream the Auburn faithful.

That's not my job.

My thoughts in the column this week were strictly regarding the Crimson Tide, that Coach Nick Saban and his staff will have another good recruiting year this year, and that all things being equal Bama should have good recruiting every year. I pointed out the many advantages Alabama has in recruiting, including facilities, academics, and tradition.

What did that get me on the Auburn site? Among other things:

"He's an Auburn-hater."

That is not true. I want Alabama to win. I don't cheer for Auburn (as if that would make any difference). I also don't cheer for LSU or South Carolina or Florida or Tennessee or Vanderbilt...well, maybe Vanderbilt.

I have friends who are Auburn graduates and Auburn fans. We don't talk football.

I don't want Auburn to lose academic accreditation. That would be harmful to the state.

There's a religious philosophy that says, "I don't hate the sinner. I hate the sin."

Don't rewrite Mark Twain and don't buy players.

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