Phillip Marshall Column: Soaking In History

Phillip Marshall writes on the NFL Draft and other topics in his latest sports column for subscribers.

The names on the black wall seem endless. One after another, more than 58,000, the names represent someone's son, someone's husband, someone's father. For those of my generation, even more than 30 years after the end of the war, the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., is a powerful and sad symbol.

Spending a week's vacation seeing the sights in Washington, D.C., and New York City with my family, I visited the wall for the first time. I tried to explain to my 17-year-old son but realized there was no explaining.

Minutes earlier, I had visited the Iwo Jima Memorial, a huge, bronze sculpture of the famous photo depicting Marines raising the American flag in victory, and felt tears well up in my eyes. My father's brother, the uncle I never knew, was killed in the battle of Iwo Jima and was posthumously awarded a Silver Star.

Anyone who hasn't soaked in the history of our nation's capital should do it. I left with a new appreciation for so many who have given so much for me to be able to have a quality of life only dreamed of by most people in the world.

But I'm back in my world now. Having been absent from this spot for more than a week, there is some catching up to do.

It's going to be interesting next week to see what happens when swim coach David Marsh meets with athletic director Jay Jacobs. Marsh interviewed for the vacant women's head coaching position at Stanford. He wants improved facilities, particularly an outdoor pool. If he doesn't get it, he may well head west.

What should Jacobs do? The answer might not be as simple as it seems. What Marsh has done at Auburn--winning eight national championships and producing teams filled with outstanding citizens--is truly remarkable. No other coach in any sport in our state's history has done as much. As I have said on numerous occasions, it's a bad joke that he's not in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

But other sports, including those that pay the bills in the athletic department, also have needs. Is an outdoor pool more important than a practice facility for basketball, upgrading Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, a 100-yard indoor facility for football? Is there enough money to do all those things? That's a question Jacobs and interim president Ed Richardson must answer. I know, beyond any question, that Richardson is a big supporter of the swimming program.

Marsh and the athletes he coaches are great representatives of the university. It would be a great loss if he were to leave. On the other hand, he has to do what he believes is best for himself and for his family.

My guess is that he gets what he wants, or close enough to what he wants that he decides to stay at his alma mater.

Ronnie Brown could be the first of three to four Tigers picked in the first round of the NFL Draft.

*Next Saturday will be quite a day for Auburn football. Three players--running backs Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams and cornerback Carlos Rogers--will be chosen in the first round of the NFL draft. Quarterback Jason Campbell could go in the first but will certainly go in the second.

It won't likely be mentioned by the talking heads at ESPN, but one of the remarkable stories about that foursome is that Brown, Campbell and Rogers already have earned Auburn degrees. Campbell and Brown played last season as graduates. Williams is on the verge of earning his degree and making it four-for-four.

Brown will be Auburn's only representative in New York. He will be joined by running back Cedric Benson of Texas, quarterbacks Alex Smith of Utah and Aaron Rogers of California, cornerback Antrel Rolle of Miami and wide receiver Braylon Edwards of Michigan. No other players were invited.

*It's interesting to see that Phillip Fulmer and Steve Spurrier are taking shots at one another again. If I was Fulmer, I think I'd just keep quiet. It's hard to blame Spurrier for the run-ins South Carolina players he didn't recruit have had with the law. Fulmer has no such excuse.

Until next time...

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