AU Officials Shouldn't Make A Hasty Decision

Phillip Marshall writes wabout the possible effects of Hurricane Ivan on this weekends' game versus the LSU Tigers and takes a look at the first two weeks of the college football season.

It goes without saying, as Hurricane Ivan churns through the Gulf of Mexico that safety should come before anything else. Playing a football game is not worth putting even one person in danger.

But the Auburn administration needs to be patient. There is no reason to act hastily and call off Saturday's showdown against LSU before it is clear what to expect. Postponing the game would be nothing but bad for Auburn¹s football team.

By Monday night, head coach Tommy Tuberville was resigned to the fact that, should the game be postponed, it would have to be played on Nov. 6. For Auburn, that would mean a brutal closing stretch of games against LSU, Georgia and Alabama. What was a nine-game stretch without an open date to start the season would become a nine-game stretch to close the season.

Auburn might be good enough to beat LSU on Sept. 18 or Nov. 6. It might not be good enough to win on either date. But LSU would probably be a lot more vulnerable Saturday than it will be almost two months from now when an unsettled quarterback situation has stabilized.

I'm not certain why Auburn felt it necessary to issue a statement Monday when other schools that could be affected by the hurricane did not, but I am certain there should be no rush to a decision. By Wednesday, Thursday at the latest, it should be clear whether Ivan is likely to be so disruptive that the game must be postponed.

I was in College Station, Texas, in 1988 to cover the Alabama-Texas A&M game when I got a call from my office. Alabama, I was told, wasn't coming. It didn't even rain in College Station that weekend. At what would have been kickoff time, the field was bathed in sunshine.

Alabama coach Bill Curry acted hastily. Auburn officials should learn a lesson from that.

A LOOK BACK

Impressions after the second week of the college football season.

Apparently I'm a slow learner. I swallowed the Ole Miss hook during the summer and believed those close to the program who told me the 2004 Rebels could be even better than last season's 10-game winners. I said in this space last week that I had seen the light, then went and picked the Rebels to win in Tuscaloosa. Silly me.

After watching Alabama dismantle Ole Miss on television, I was convinced of two things: Alabama is certainly better than I thought it would be and Ole Miss is a bad team.

I'm still not ready to declare Alabama a championship contender, but the first 11 on each side of the ball are solid. I still look for five Crimson Tide losses, more than that if there is a run of injuries.

Ole Miss has serious quarterback problems. It has no threat at running back. The offensive line, supposedly the league's best, isn¹t blocking anybody. The receivers that looked so good catching passes from Eli Manning don't look so good now that he's gone. The defense is shaky at best.

Has Auburn been more dominant than in an SEC game on the road than it was in dismantling Mississippi State 43-14? The Tigers overpowered a team that came believing it could win.

And did someone really accuse Tuberville of showing a lack of class in the fourth quarter? He could have won that game by 70 points had he chosen to. One who understood that was Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom, who said after the game Tuberville kept the score down by putting third-teamers into the game in the fourth quarter.

Another team that is apparently better than I expected is Arkansas. The Razorbacks should have at least been kicking for a field goal to beat Texas on Saturday night in Fayetteville. Senior quarterback Matt Jones made a freshman mistake when he coughed up the ball within easy range of the game-winning field goal.

Georgia quarterback David Greene did it again, rallying the Bulldogs from a 16-0 deficit to win at South Carolina. But what makes the Bulldogs championship contenders is their defense. It is surely among the nation's best.

What a way to go for Clemson. The Tigers led Georgia Tech 24-21 within the final minute and faced second-and-one at their own 37. They tried once and didn't make it. They tried again and didn't make it. Punting with less than 30 seconds left, they got a bad snap. Georgia Tech recovered and Reggie Ball threw his fourth touchdown pass as the Yellow Jackets won 28-24. Just goes to show you what happens when you can't run for a measly yard when you need it.

Until next time...


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