Time For a Decision, Time For Some Praise

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about baseball, football, track, SEC politics and other subjects.

Random thoughts on Monday morning…

*What is Ed Richardson waiting for?

While Richardson, Auburn's interim president, is mysteriously quiet, baseball coach Steve Renfroe and his program twist in the wind. Will Renfroe be back next season? Will he not? Fans want to know. Recruits need to know. Most of all, Renfroe and his family need to know.

Steve Renfroe

The lines between those who want Renfroe to stay and those who want him to go are firmly drawn. Hal Baird, the athletics assistant to the president, has made his recommendation. It's time for a decision.

Richardson has every right to make a change if that's what he believes is best, but to leave Renfroe wondering and waiting is dead wrong. It smacks of the way disgraced former president William Walker went about his business.

*Has any Auburn coach done more with less recognition than track coach Ralph Spry? The Tiger men finished second in the nation last year, and would have won the national championship had it not been for a mysterious collapse by Gabor Mate in the discus. They are ranked No. 2 going into this week's NCAA Championships and are one of four teams considered to be serious contenders for the championship.

Ralph Spry

*Meaningless predictions: LSU will be a major disappointment this season. Mississippi State will be the story of the year, winning more games than anyone expects and maybe even enough to get to a bowl game. The winner of the Florida-Georgia game will win the SEC championship. Auburn will be 9-2 or 8-3, maybe making it to Atlanta and maybe not. Alabama will finish 6-5.

*Arkansas beat Wichita State twice on Sunday to make it to a super regional, but Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn should hang his head in shame. Pitcher Charley Boyce pitched the final 7 2/3 innings and threw 104 pitches in Sunday's second game, a 4-3 victory, one day after throwing 99 pitches in a 4-3 loss to Wichita State. In a league in which the likes of Alabama coach Jim Wells, LSU coach Smoke Laval and Ole Miss coach Rob Bianco have made pitcher abuse commonplace, Van Horn took it to a new level.

To allow a pitcher to throw 203 pitches is two days is extremely dangerous. In the minor leagues, pitchers are rarely allowed to throw 100 pitches in a game. Even in the major leagues, no pitcher would be allowed to throw 203 pitches in two days, regardless of the situation. To risk a player's future to win a game, a regional or a championship is unconscionable.

*On the bright side, the baseball selection committee's decision to take nine SEC teams certainly has been vindicated. Six SEC teams will play in super regionals. We could see a repeat of 1997, when four SEC teams played in the College World Series. Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee are the only three who didn't make it. The Rebels were the big disappointment. As host for a regional for the first time, they went two-and-out. They were the only SEC team that failed to win a game. The Vols didn't do a lot better. They lost twice to North Carolina-Wilmington and beat Stony Brook 1-0.

*It came as no surprise that SEC presidents voted down a proposal Friday to even the playing field in sports that give partial scholarships. The lottery scholarship issue is a hot one in the SEC these days, but schools in the states that have it aren't going to vote to give up the advantage it creates. If anything happens, it's going to happen at the NCAA level. That's not likely, because it's not an issue in other parts of the country like it is in the South.

*It has become obvious--as it should have always been--that Marco Killingsworth will not be chosen in the NBA draft. That does not necessarily mean he will return to Auburn next season. Killingsworth could make a good living playing overseas. He's a good student on track to get his degree, but word is that Killingsworth is still considering his options.

Until next time…

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