Something For Fans To Consider

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about Auburn's SEC showdown vs. Ole Miss and other issues.

I truly wish every "fan" who ever sat in the stands and cursed or ridiculed a college football player could have sat in on my interview earlier this week with Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell. He talked about the pain it causes his mother to hear the things she frequently hears during games at Jordan-Hare Stadium. When Ben Leard was playing quarterback, it got so bad his mother quit coming to the games.

"I can deal with it," Campbell said. "My dad's a coach and he can deal with it. I have a strong family and I know they are going to be there for me. My main worry is my mom sitting in the stands. She has to hear those things. People shouldn't do that. If it was your child out there playing, would you like somebody saying those things?"

Campbell is looking to go 3-0 this Saturday in games vs. the Ole Miss Rebels.

Certainly, such behavior is not unique to Auburn. It happens on college campuses across the country every Saturday. In fact, Campbell humorously remembered his own experiences sitting in the stands. "When my brother played at Mississippi State, we'd go to the games and hear what people would say about the quarterbacks," Campbell said. "My mom would say, ‘I hope you don't end up somewhere people do you like that. I don't think I could stand it.' I tell her not to worry about. I tell her you just have to block those people out and not let them get to you. That's not just in football, but in life. Sometimes people don't like you just from looking at you."

Campbell had a message, too, for those who would blame bad games on lack of motivation or lack of effort. "Sometimes we get beat and people say we act like we didn't want to play," Campbell said. "We go out there and practice hard every day and sweat and bleed. We go through the offseason program and the spring and the summer. You think we don't want to play? You think we don't want to win? Everybody else is working the same way you are working. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way." Campbell, by the way, will almost certainly leave Auburn as the most accurate passer in school history. He is 11-3 as a starter in Southeastern Conference games. Is that a record to be proud of? Sure looks that way to me.


No matter how hard some try to turn the unfortunate firing of Eldon Hawley into a sign of racial problems in the Auburn football program, it isn't going to work. It isn't going to work because there's nothing there.

Auburn players were unanimous and enthusiastic in their support of Coach Tommy Tuberville's handling of the situation. I'm not sure how he could have handled it any better.


Auburn and Ole Miss might never have played each other in a bigger game than the one coming Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn must win to keep its SEC West Division championship hopes alive. If Ole Miss can win, it will have an opportunity to clinch the championship two weeks later at LSU.

There is little question the Tigers will face the best team Ole Miss has fielded in many years, maybe since winning the SEC championship 40 years ago. Eli Manning might be the best quarterback in the country. He has terrific receivers and, for the first time in his career, a decent running game. It should be a heck of a football game. Like most close games, it will probably be decided by who makes the fewest mistakes. My guess is that will be Auburn in a game that won't be as high scoring as many expect. My prediction: Auburn 24, Ole Miss 19.


Anyone who doubted Bobby Petrino's ability as an offensive coach should have been convinced by Louisville's game at unbeaten Texas Christian on Thursday night. The Cardinals lost 31-28 because of three missed field goals, but Petrino carved up one of the nation's better defenses with his play-calling. My guess is he won't be long for Louisville. He'll be moving on to even bigger and better things. Until next time…

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