Marshall: Top 20 AU Stories Of The Athletic Year

Columnist Phillip Marshall selects and comments on the most important stories involving the Auburn Tigers in the past athletic year.

Another Auburn athletic year is over. There were high times and low times, cheers and tears. And, as always, it was interesting.

Following is one man's view of the top 20 Auburn stories for the athletic year of 2004-2005:

1. Tommy Tuberville rises from the ashes. It was, in many ways, the most remarkable story I have covered. From barely avoiding being fired in December of 2003, Tuberville took the Tigers to the best season in school history, going 13-0 and winning the SEC championship and the Sugar Bowl. He won every major national Coach of the Year award. You could have won a lot of money if you had predicted that the day Tuberville tearfully announced he would remain as Auburn's coach.

2. The BCS. The only downer to Auburn's perfect season was a strange set of events that led to the Tigers being left out of the BCS championship game in the Orange Bowl. The Tigers had to watch as Southern California destroyed Oklahoma 55-19. Auburn finished No. 2 in all the polls. The controversy over Auburn's snub and over Texas passing California and going to the Rose Bowl was so intense that the BCS still hasn't recovered. The Associated Press said it no longer wanted its poll used in the BCS standings. A replacement still hasn't been found.

3. Auburn and the NFL draft. Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams and Carlos Rogers made Auburn the first Southeastern Conference team ever to have three players chosen in the first nine picks. Jason Campbell, written off by many before the season, was SEC Player of the Year and became the first Auburn quarterback ever to be chosen in the first round. Auburn became the first school ever to have its entire starting offensive backfield chosen in the first round.

Both Ronnie Brown and Jason Campbell were drafted in the first round in the NFL Draft.

4. Jay Jacobs named AD. After a search that went on for months longer than expected, former walk-on offensive lineman Jay Jacobs was named athletic director, officially taking over for David Housel the day after the Tigers beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

5. Tuberville and his contract. Just over a year after he was almost fired, Tuberville signed a seven-year contract that makes him virtually impossible to fire.

6. Marsh does it again. Auburn's men gave swimming coach David Marsh his ninth national championship. The women finished second, ending a three-year run as national champions. And Marsh is still not in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

7. The axe falls. Less than two months into his tenure as athletic director, Jacobs terminated the jobs of associate athletic director Stacy Danley, assistant athletic director Eugene Harris and assistant athletic director Marvin Julich. The decision to remove Danley and Harris, both African-Americans, created a short-lived firestorm. Harris later became a basketball assistant at Alabama.

8. Rogers wins a big one. Carlos Rogers was named winner of the Thorpe Award as the nation's top cornerback, joining Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, Tracy Rocker and Zeke Smith as Auburn winners of major national individual awards.

9 Toney Douglas leaves. This one is still unfolding. There's probably more to come from Harry Douglas, Toney's dad.

10. Lebo beats the odds. Basketball coach Jeff Lebo's first season won't go into the record books as one of Auburn's best, but he took a team devoid of height, short on SEC talent and with virtually no bench to 14 wins. It was a remarkable job.

11. Farewell to Baird. Hal Baird, the winningest baseball coach in Auburn history and a calming influence who helped Auburn through troubled times as athletics assistant to the president, retired. His wisdom, integrity and dedication to duty will be sorely missed.

12. Coordinator shuffle. Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik left days after the Sugar Bowl to become defensive coordinator at Texas. Tuberville hired former Broncos secondary coach David Gibbs to take his place. Good move by Chizik? Good hire by Tuberville? Those stories will be told only on the field.

13. Slater era begins. Tom Slater, an Auburn assistant for six seasons under Hal Baird, replaced Steve Renfroe as head baseball coach. The Tigers barely got into an NCAA regional, but went to the championship round before falling to Florida State.

14. Dye gets his due. Former football coach Pat Dye, who won four of Auburn's six SEC championships, finally got what he deserved and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He should have gone in earlier, but at least he got in.

15. A near miss. The Auburn women's golf team won the SEC championship and made a strong run at a national championship before finishing third.

16. Soccer makes history. The Auburn soccer team hosted an NCAA regional for the first time, beating Clemson in the first game before being eliminated 1-0 by Washington.

17. Softball makes history. The Auburn softball team broke a bushel of school records and hosted an NCAA regional for the first time. The Tigers also won a regional game for the first time, beating Florida A&M.

18. Fortner's first. Coach Nell Fortner took her first Auburn team to a 16-12 record, but the Tigers were left out of the NCAA Tournament field.

19. National champion. Auburn's Edis Elkasevic won the national championship in the shot put in the NCAA Track & Field Championships.

20. Hall of Famers. The late Jim Fyffe, Auburn's beloved play-by-play man; former defensive tackle Tracy Rocker; former fullback Billy Atkins and former basketball star Chuck Person were inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories