Predicting Football Plus More NCAA Nonsense

Columnist Phillip Marshall covers a variety of topics in his opinion column that features Auburn football.

A little of this and a little of that...

OK, I'm swearing off setting any more lines on Auburn football games. I did the same thing last year and got the same response, a flood of emails questioning my "predictions."

The column that ran here Saturday seems to have been viewed by a lot of folks as my predictions of outcomes. It wasn't. The only thing I predicted was what the line would be on the games.

The fact is that virtually every Southeastern Conference team has a handful of games that could go either way. How those games go determines how the season goes. LSU had four last season that could have gone either way. It won three of them and won the national championship. A year earlier, Auburn had five that could have gone either way and won two. If the Tigers had won three of those, they'd have played in the SEC Championship Game.

Auburn would seem to have four of those kinds of games this season, though it could be more or less as the season goes on. Over time, most teams play about .500 in those kinds of games. Even Bear Bryant was only a little over .500 in games against nationally ranked teams. If I had to make a prediction, I would predict this Auburn team goes either 9-2 or 8-3. If this is one of those seasons in which the right people stay healthy, it could be even better than that. That prediction, of course, doesn't mean any more than anyone else's prediction. I don't think there is a game Auburn doesn't have a good chance to win, and what I wrote reflected that. At least, I thought it did.

NCAA strikes again: New recruiting regulations have, spawned by a scandal at the University of Colorado and the ramblings of Willie Williams, have unfairly targeted groups like Auburn's Tigerettes and Tiger Hosts. Sue Locklar, the fine lady who is in charge of the program, is chagrined, and with good reason.

She has been told that Tigerettes or Tiger Hosts can have no direct contact with football recruits on official or unofficial visits. It was already against the organization's own rules for Tigerettes to leave the campus with prospects, but now they can't even escort them on campus.

That's ridiculous enough, but just as ridiculous is that Tiger Hosts (all guys) are under the same restriction. Sue says she was told by NCAA officials that the perception might be that the Tiger Hosts were providing drugs or alcohol to the recruits.

It gets worse. Sue is free to hire other students, who will not have near the knowledge or the expertise of the Tigerettes and Tiger Hosts, to perform the same functions the Tigerettes and Tiger Hosts performed previously. I guess that makes sense to somebody.

About the book: Some have asked about exactly when my upcoming book, The Auburn Experience: The Traditions and Heroes of Auburn Athletics, will be available and where. It is going to the printer within a week and should be available around the first of October. It will be available through mail order or at J&M Bookstore in Auburn or Adams Drugs in Montgomery. An ad with an order form is available in the latest edition of Inside The Auburn Tigers magazine. It can also be ordered on the web at www.theauburnexperience.com. It is a coffee table book with more than 300 slick pages and large color photos depicting the traditions and the great athletes, coaches, administrators and the memorable voices in Auburn's history in all sports.

Don't look for 73: Auburn's 73-7 victory over Louisiana-Monroe last season has a lot of people expecting something similar in the season opener next Saturday.

Don't count on it.

The Indians came to town without their starting quarterback last season. Steven Jyles, a two-year starter and probably his team's best player, will lead a new offense installed by first-year offensive coordinator Todd Berry. Auburn coaches say safety Chris Harris could play for any SEC team.

None of that means that the Indians should make much of a game of it. They hung with LSU for most of the first half last season, keeping the game scoreless until the 6:37 mark of the second quarter. Of course, they eventually lost 49-7. I would look for a similar score Saturday.

Until next time...


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