A Saturday To Remember--Not Exactly

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about Auburn football and basketball.

How many times have I heard it? "Man, you have a great job. You go to games and get paid for it."

There's a lot of truth to that statement. I do have a great job and I do get paid for it, though not enough that Mr. Newhouse, who owns The Huntsville Times, Birmingham News and Mobile Register, is going to miss it.

But there are some things you have to get accustomed to doing without in my business. One of those things is weekends. Outside of vacation, I think I had a Saturday off about 10 years ago.

On this particular Saturday, my wife and youngest son were gone to Huntsville for my grandson's birthday party, leaving my oldest son and me on our own. So here's how it was, a day in the life of your loyal columnist:

6:30 a.m.: The alarm goes off on the clock radio. I knock it in the floor trying to turn it off. I get up to get it, get my feet tangled in the covers and fall on my rear end. My oldest son, getting ready to be at work at 7, hears the noise and looks in the door. He laughs. Loudly. My aging joints crackle and pop as I pick myself up. A wonderful start to the day.

7 a.m.: I go to the kitchen and get a Diet Coke out of the fridge (I hate coffee). I go sit on the deck and smoke a cigar (yes, I need to stop that). It's cold, but hey, you have to be able to take a little pain. I'm just glad I don't live in North Dakota or somewhere.

7:30 a.m.: I go back in the house to cook my Atkins Diet breakfast of bacon and eggs. I notice the kitchen. Oldest son seems perfectly capable of fixing own breakfast, not so capable of cleaning up after he does it. I wash out the skillet and fix my breakfast, putting the dishes on top of the supper dishes from Friday night.

8:30 a.m.: I get on the Internet to see if any of my very resourceful competitors beat me on any stories. They didn't, at least not today. I finish writing a story about Auburn's NCAA basketball investigation that I'd started the night before. At least, I think, this will be over in less than a week. Actually, though, it won't be. It'll be a couple of months before Auburn hears the verdict. If that news is bad, an appeal is almost certain. The final chapter of that story has yet to be written.

10 a.m.: I'm heading out the door to go to the gym, but I have a vision. What if wife and son decide to come home early and wife sees the kitchen. Visions of mayhem come to my mind. I go back in and put all the dishes in the dishwasher.

10:45 a.m.: I get in the car and drive to the gym. I go in and suffer for an hour on the treadmill. I swim 10 laps in the pool. As usual, there is an older man swimming in the lane next to me. He's already swimming when I start and still going when I leave. I'm gasping for air. He doesn't even seem tired. I gratefully get in the shower. Some people say they enjoy working out. I enjoy being finished with my workout.

12:15 p.m.: I get back home. I make some telephone calls trying to find out if anybody knows if Tommy Tuberville is leaning one way or another in his search for an offensive coordinator. If he is, nobody seems to know. I have a feeling it's going to be Rob Spence, the Toledo offensive coordinator who interviewed Thursday and Friday. But that's just a feeling and not based on a shred of solid information.

1:30 p.m.: I arrive at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum an hour and a half before Auburn's basketball game against Georgia. I eat free chicken wings in the media room. As is often the case at Auburn basketball games, the talk isn't about Auburn basketball. It's about Tuberville's search for an offensive coordinator. On television, Kentucky hangs on to beat South Carolina by one point.

2 p.m.: I go to a press conference with Steve Renfroe and several Auburn baseball players. Renfroe says this team, his fourth, is his most talented yet. I talk to Tug Hulett and Cory Dueitt and they agree. It reminds me of last August when football expectations were soaring. It also reminds me of last fall, when basketball expectations were soaring.

3 p.m.: The game begins. Auburn plays a decent first half and leads 36-29. Not long after the start of the second half, the players realize that Georgia is in a 2-3 zone. They remember that means they are supposed to take bad shots and turn the ball over. Fortunately for them, Georgia isn't very good and they play good defense and hang on to win 57-54. I didn't see anything to convince me there is a lot of hope for a strong finish. About five minutes after the game, my cell phone rings. Oldest son wants to know what's for supper.

5:30 p.m.: After talking to players and coaches, I go to a reception for former basketball coach Sonny Smith, one of my favorite people. I am still amazed after all these years that he and Wimp Sanderson were able to maintain their close friendship while coaching against each other at Auburn and Alabama. I don't know of any other two who have done that. It's good to see Sonny getting the recognition he deserves. Auburn had never been to an NCAA Tournament when he arrived and he went to five straight. He came very close to winning it all in 1986, losing to eventual national champion Louisville in the final seconds in the Elite Eight.

6 p.m.: I go back to the media room to write my story on the basketball game. Cell phone rings again. Oldest son says he is on the verge of starvation. I tell him he'll probably survive.

7:30 p.m.: I get home and oldest son is waiting. He says he wants to go get Mexican food. I love Mexican food. Mexican food is not on the Atkins diet. For the first time in six weeks, I am weak. We go eat Mexican food.

9 p.m.: We get home. I transcribe the tape from the baseball press conference for a Monday story. It's 30 degrees outside and Auburn baseball season is less than a week away. I start to write the baseball story, but I'm too sleepy. I answer a half dozen emails. Four of them are asking about Auburn's offensive coordinator situation. One is from an old friend. Another is from a fan of a school I don't cover. He wants me to understand that I am a totally worthless piece of you know what and wonders how I ever become a sports writer. I write him back and tell him I wonder the same thing sometimes.

10 p.m.: Lights out.


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