Phillip Marshall: Shooting Straight A Family Trait

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about Bart Eddins, the "circus" in Tuscaloosa and other football topics.

Rambling around on Monday morning…

Bart Eddins could have spent the next six months traveling around the country and being treated like a celebrity. All he had to do was give the slightest hint that he would be interested in a school other than Auburn. But that's not the Eddins way.

The Eddins way is shooting straight. The Eddins way is hard work, honesty and staying humble. The Eddins way is putting team goals before individual goals. That's the way Liston, a former All-Southeastern Conference defensive end at Auburn, and his wife, Nancy, raised their three sons.

That's why Bret was a respected and integral part of Auburn's drive to a 13-0 record last season, why he will be in training camp next week with the New York Giants. That's why Blake was one of the more beloved Arkansas basketball players in recent years.

And that's why Bart, one of the state's top prospects, passed up the glitz and glitter of the recruiting scene and ended it all with his commitment to Auburn on Saturday.

Liston and Nancy could give lessons in how to be an athlete's parents. They are there to support their sons, not to live vicariously through them. They leave the complaining and the boasting to others. They raised three sons who became SEC athletes, but more importantly, they raised three sons who work hard, care about others and do what is right...

It's been a blissful summer for Auburn fans. How long has it been since things have been so quiet on the Plains?

The football program, the most visible part of most SEC universities, is still basking in the glow of an unbeaten season. While the circus continues in a Tuscaloosa courtroom, there is not a hint of scandal at Auburn. Even the Board of Trustees, the favorite target of so many, seems to be operating in relative peace.

A word of caution: Enjoy the good times, but don't revel too much in the misery of others. There are no signs of trouble at Auburn now, but it wasn't long ago there was turmoil aplenty. You never know when your time is coming…

Tommy Gallion and others involved in the lawsuit filed by former Alabama assistants Ronnie Cottrell and Ivy Williams would have us believe they have exposed the dark side of the NCAA.

They are wrong.

No one outside the state of Alabama seems to be paying attention. The trial is getting virtually no national coverage, and I don't know anyone who is familiar with the NCAA enforcement division who didn't already know the slimy way it often does business.

The process has plenty of critics, and I count myself among those critics. But what we should all remember is that the member schools that make up the NCAA can change that process at any time with a simple vote. They obviously don't have any interest in doing that.

The only schools that get upset about NCAA enforcement policies are those that are in serious trouble. And they seldom get much sympathy…

Based on projections in preseason magazines and other places, Auburn won't be in the Top 10 in the preseason polls. I wonder when the last time a team that had a perfect record and finished No. 2 was not ranked in the Top 10 the next season.

The rationale is always the same, that four first-round draft choices will be too much to replace. If you ask me, four first-round draft choices is a sign of a very strong program.

"A lot of people are ranking us like No. 20," one Auburn coach said. "If there are 19 teams in the country better than we are, I want to see them." So do I…

An interesting statistic: Since Paul Bryant retired as Alabama's coach after the 1982 season, Auburn has had 12 seasons with nine wins or more and Alabama has had 10. Alabama's nine teams were 6-4 against Auburn. Auburn's nine-win teams were 10-2 against Alabama...

One man's prediction: Not only will Southern California not win the national championship in the coming season, it will lose 2-3 games. To hear the pundits talk, you'd thing the Trojans went through last season without breaking a sweat. In fact, they could have easily lost to California, Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA. Like all unbeaten teams, the ball bounced their way at crucial times.

The Pac-10 isn't exactly a beast of a conference, but losing five assistant coaches, including legendary offensive coordinator Norm Chow, will be difficult to overcome.

Until next time…

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