Marshall: Football Coaches Ask For Sensible Change

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about football, baseball and other subjects,

Ramblin' around on a Friday morning …

Division I-A college football coaches are planning one last plea with NCAA presidents to do the sensible thing for the 2006 season.

It's old news now that NCAA presidents voted to allow a 12th game beginning in 2006. What they refused to do was allow a week to be added to the season. The result, if that refusal stands, will be 12 games packed into a 13-week season.

What the coaches want is to start the season a week earlier. They are even willing to leave the practice calendar unchanged, meaning an earlier start to the season won't mean an earlier start to preseason practice.

The earlier start would be good from two standpoints. First, players would not be asked to go through a three-month season with only one Saturday off from competition. Second, there would instantly be a common open date for all schools. That would lead to attractive games like we saw in 2002 and 2003. As it stands now, most of the power teams, limited only to schools that happen to have common open dates, are going to schedule cupcakes for a 12th game.

Auburn basketball coach Jeff Lebo is just one of the many coaches on hand for the Rane tournament.

The coaches' idea makes a lot of sense, which probably means it will be rejected out of hand …

The charity golf tournament hosted by Auburn trustee and Great Southern Wood founder and CEO Jimmy Rane was like a who's who of college athletics Thursday and today.

Seventeen high school seniors who were awarded college scholarships by the Jimmy Rane Foundation were honored at a banquet Thursday night at Grand National in Opelika.

Among those on hand in the crowd of more than 500 were Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, Alabama football coach Mike Shula, Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom, former Alabama football coach Gene Stallings, newly elected Hall of Famer Pat Dye, Auburn basketball coach Jeff Lebo, Georgia Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt, Georgia football coach Mark Richt, Auburn swim coach David Marsh, former Ohio State coach John Cooper, UAB offensive coordinator and former Auburn coach Sonny Smith and former Alabama coach Wimp Sanderson. ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso was the featured speaker.

The charity golf tournament was the fifth hosted by Rane and his foundation. The scholarship program is near and dear to Rane's heart.

"We have more people, more money and more children," Rane said. "I'm so excited to be able to help 17 more children. These are all deserving kids, great kids. All the people that help me, I do appreciate it.

"We had over 700 applications. Every one of those kids deserves help. We just keep growing it and keep growing it. We are going to give more and more every year …

Because I am writing a story on Corso for the Saturday Huntsville Times, I can't go into detail here, but a lot of Auburn folks will probably be interested to know that he insists that he never wavered in maintaining that it should have been Auburn instead of Oklahoma playing Southern California for the national championship in the Orange Bowl last season …

Some projections now have 11 Southeastern Conference baseball teams going to NCAA regionals. That would be truly a remarkable turn of events, but one that actually makes sense.

Every SEC team except Kentucky is in the top 33 in RPI, the rating that plays a major role in the selection committee's deliberations. Auburn, despite a 12-15 SEC record, is No. 16. That's because the Tigers have played a schedule that includes 29 games against top 25 teams. That number will jump to 32 after this weekend's series against Alabama.

My guess is that two wins over the Tide would put the Tigers into an NCAA regional, even though it might not be enough to get them to Hoover for the eight-team SEC Tournament. Even one win might be enough …

The Auburn athletic department is running a heck of a promotion this weekend. With school out and many student tickets for the Alabama baseball series unclaimed, spectators who purchase tickets to see Auburn in the NCAA softball regional today or Saturday at the Jane B. Moore Softball Complex can get a ticket to the Alabama game that day for $2.

The ticket package will be available at the softball complex beginning today at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m.

Single-game softball regional tickets are $7 for a reserved seat and $5 for a general admission ticket. That means it will actually be less expensive to buy tickets for both than for just the baseball game. Single-game baseball tickets are $10 each …

Until next time...

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