Truths And Opinions About Auburn Football

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about the state of the Auburn program and some of the things he believes about the Tigers.

It has been a tumultuous week for Auburn football. Last Saturday's 31-7 loss at LSU was painful for coaches, players and fans. It was the kind of loss that lingers, which means it's probably a good thing Louisiana-Monroe is next on the schedule.

The Internet and talk radio age have given voice to many people who never had it before. That's a good thing and a bad thing. It's good because people deserve to state their opinions. It's bad because much fiction becomes accepted as fact.

The questions have flooded in over the past several days. There are things I know about Auburn football. And I, like others, have my opinions.

First, what I know to be true:

*Tommy Tuberville's job is not in jeopardy. There is no reasonable scenario, not even a loss to Alabama, in which Tuberville would fired as Auburn's head coach at the end of this season. There are numerous reasons. The main reason is that he still has the support of those in high places, people who look beyond a bad night in Baton Rouge and see a program that is being built the right way. Another is the fact that it would cost $4 million to buy out his contract.

*Auburn's coaches feel extremely good about their recruiting class. They do not care how the players they are pursuing are rated by recruiting analysts.

*Carnell Williams, at this point, does not plan on leaving early for the NFL. If he is projected as a high first-round draft choice, as some say, that could change, but he is committed to fulfilling a promise to his mother and getting his degree.

*Barring injuries or a meltdown at cornerback, Junior Rosegreen will be a safety for the rest of the season.

*And now for some opinions you can take for what they are worth, which is not a lot more than anyone else's opinion:

*When Mississippi State goes looking for a head coach, it could do a lot worse than Joe Whitt.

*The biggest problem with Auburn's offense isn't players or coaching ability. It is that Hugh Nall and Steve Ensminger are making gameplans and calling plays for an offense that is not their own. They can call the same plays Bobby Petrino called, but they can't call them for the same reasons.

Senior Karlos Dansby is shown during Auburn's victory at Arkansas this season.

*Karlos Dansby is the best linebacker ever to play for Auburn, and he will make many millions of dollars in the NFL. Even in Saturday night's loss, I thought he was the best football player on the field.

*If there is not a strong finish to this season, there will be coaching staff adjustments. What form they will take, I don't know.

*Auburn will have a better chance for a national championship next season than it had this season. Though there will be big holes to fill on defense, there are talented players available to fill them. The schedule is much, much more favorable. There are no brutal nonconference games and the toughest conference games are at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

*Auburn can be the best team in the SEC on any given year, but it will be extremely difficult for it ever to be the most talented. LSU is the only game in town in a talent-rich state. Most of the top players in Georgia are always going to go to Georgia and always have, even when Pat Dye was at Auburn. A 50-50 split in Alabama is the best Auburn can expect most years. Florida has the most fertile recruiting ground in this part of the country. LSU, Georgia and Florida are in position to be the most talented SEC teams in almost any season.

*If Auburn has opened the season with, say, Ball State and The Citadel instead of USC and Georgia Tech, it would be 7-1 with the same team and there wouldn't be near as much screaming and hollering.

*Auburn will win easily over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday but won't look very good doing it.

*I don't know if Auburn's passing attack will improve over the next four games, but I look for more max protection passes with fewer reads.

*I'm no coach, but I believe Jason Campbell would be more effective as a passer if he sprinted out more and was as willing to tuck the ball and run as he was last year. I also believe he would be more effective if he had less fear of throwing interceptions.

*Among the worst things that can happen to a football program is instability in the head coach's position. All you have to do is look at LSU. A program that should always be strong had an astonishing eight losing seasons, including six in a row, between 1988 and 1998. It also fired three head coaches in that 11-year span.

*Auburn will finish this season 8-4 and play in the Outback Bowl.

Until next time...

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