The Cycle Of Life And Sports Keeps Turning

Phillip Marshall reflects on his family and takes a look at Auburn's win over LSU in basketball and the hiring of Al Borges in football.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

The beautiful words from the Book of Ecclesiastes take just 15 lines, but they sum up what life and living really are all about. Truly, there is a time to every purpose under heaven.

For Ruth Marshall Jordan, the time to die came last Friday. I was in the air somewhere between Phoenix, Ariz., and Atlanta when, with my wife holding her hand, my mother took her last breath. She had suffered greatly for too long, and it was time for her to rest.

Like most of us, I will carry memories of family to my grave. The rest of them are gone now my two brothers, my sister, my father and now my mother. It is a strange feeling to be, at 54 years old, the only one left of six.

But on the day we told my mother goodbye in Birmingham, I looked at my children, all grown up now, and my grandchildren and thought of the amazing cycle of life God has given us all. Even as we mourned the passing of one who had grown old and sick, the eyes of the little ones shone with the promise of the future.

So it has always been.

Through the good times and the bad, through wars and famine, the cycle of life goes on uninterrupted. For kings and presidents, for beggars and paupers, it is all the same. Our time on this earth is short.

Those who are truly special among us are the ones who make a difference, the ones who touch other lives and leave this world better than they found it. Most of those people aren't famous or even well-known. They are just ordinary folks who offer a smile, a handshake, a hug, a kind word.

The last time I saw my mother, she was talking incoherently, seemingly in another place far away from the hospital room. For a fleeting moment, she turned her head and looked at me. "I love you," she said. I told her I loved her, too, and she returned to that faraway place. Those were the last words we ever spoke to each other.

When she was gone and the rituals were done, all of us who were there went back to our lives. That's as it should be and as it must be.

For me, that meant the trek to Baton Rouge, La., for what I thought surely would be a blowout of a basketball game. It was a blowout, but it was not the blowout I expected.

From the ashes of a seemingly lost season, Auburn rose up and, at least for a night, was the team many predicted it to be. The Tigers ran 24th-ranked LSU, the SEC's top defensive team, into submission. They dominated the boards against a team that had not been outrebounded since Jan. 10. A remarkable 28-2 run in the second half told the tale.

Was that a sign that this team has come of age headed down the stretch? I'll reserve judgment on that until I see Saturday's game against Kentucky at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum and the other games to come. LSU, for reasons only coach John Brady understands, didn't play the 2-3 zone that has given Auburn fits. The Bayou Bengals stuck with man-to-man for almost the entire game and gave up more points than they had in any game this season.

If Auburn can win four of its last five, there will be at least a chance of making into the NCAA Tournament. For a team that has won just four of its first 11 SEC games, that is probably too much to expect.

Back in Alabama, the debate continued about football coach Tommy Tuberville's decision to hire Al Borges as offensive coordinator.

Borges may make it and he may not, but his resume is certainly more impressive over a much longer period of time than those of the two most popular candidates Toledo's Rob Spence and Miami of Ohio's Shane Montgomery.

There has been consternation that Borges came from Indiana and that the Hoosiers were 98th nationally in total offense last season, but former UCLA coach Bob Toledo says he is as good as he's been around. A year earlier, the Hoosiers broke most of the school offensive records in his first season. No coordinator or head coach is good enough to overcome bad players, Once Tuberville and his staff talked football with Borges, there was little question what the final decision would be.

Whether it was a good decision or bad decision will play out on the field next season.

Until next time …

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