Taking A Look At Auburn's Coaching Search And More

Phillip Marshall takes a look at Auburn's search for a new men's basketball coach and other things in his Friday column.

By this time next week, Auburn will probably have a new basketball coach. In the meantime, there is no telling how many crazy stories will take wings and fly.

All indications are that UAB's Mike Anderson, Virginia Commonwealth's Jeff Capel and UT-Chattanooga's Jeff Lebo are the top candidates.

Hal Baird, Auburn's athletic assistant to the president, and search consultant John Mengelt are in San Antonio for the Final Four, where they will talk with those candidates and perhaps others. Baird met with Anderson on Thursday.

All three of those candidates have indicated serious interest in the job. All three are expected to be invited for formal interviews.

Beyond that, it's difficult to get a grasp on just what is happening. It is not difficult, however, to get a grasp on some things that are not happening.

Auburn has not offered Anderson an eight-year contract for more than a million dollars a year as reported Thursday. The next Auburn coach will probably make in the neighborhood of $850,000. The job may well be offered to Anderson, but that hasn't happened yet.

Former Auburn star Chuck Person did not turn down the job. Baird couldn't have offered him the job if he'd wanted to. Person was a fine student during his days at Auburn, but he left short of getting his degree and has never returned to get it. In Alabama, a head coach is required to have a college degree.

Though there is no question he wanted the job, Indiana coach Mike Davis was never high on the list of candidates. You have to ask yourself why one would leave what is arguably one of the top five college basketball jobs in the country for a rebuilding situation. The fact that he played at Alabama obviously did not work in his favor.

So who will it be in the end? Who will take on the challenge of making Auburn basketball a consistent winner?

I was asked the other day if I had to bet a soft drink, who I would bet it on. I said I'd bet it on Anderson, but I wouldn't bet much more than a soft drink. That's still the way I see it.

NEEDLESS TROUBLE

What was Mike Shula thinking? Shula, Alabama's second-year football coach, took Sylvester Croom's name off one of Alabama's spring awards and replaced it with Bart Starr. Did he really think no one would notice or that it wouldn't be controversial?

In the first place, it's difficult to understand what Croom's being the head coach at Mississippi State has to do with anything. Croom, who is black, interviewed for the Alabama job and was passed over for Shula. A lot of people, including former Alabama players, had serious questions about that. That alone should have been enough to set off alarm bells for Shula when he started thinking about changing the name of the award.

To top it off, he named the award for Starr. Starr was one of the NFL's all-time great quarterbacks at Green Bay. He has been a generous and productive alumnus and citizen. He deserves accolades. But the truth is that, at Alabama, Starr was mostly a reserve.

This controversy will blow over in a few days, but it never should have happened. Shula may yet become a great coach, but he has lessons to learn. One of those lessons is to not needlessly cause trouble for yourself

. THIS AND THAT

Slugging Auburn first baseman Karl Amonite has now been counted out for the season but has said he plans to return for a fifth year next season . Pitcher Colby Paxton, an SEC starter last season, and his coaches are mystified by the loss of velocity that has rendered him ineffective this season.

Word from up north is that former Auburn star Gabe Gross could be a big-leaguer with the Toronto Blue Jays before season's end.

Look for Auburn's next basketball coach to have a buyout provision similar to Tommy Tuberville's, one that makes it expensive for Auburn to fire him and expensive for him to leave.

Until next time .


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