Questions Abound In The Sports World This Week

Phillip Marshall takes a look at many different subjects in his latest addition.

Oops!

Sadly, I was wrong about something reported here a couple of days ago. Dameyune Craig's supposed real shot at being the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins turned out to be no shot at all. He was released after the Redskins signed former Florida quarterback Shane Matthews.

Far be it from me to tell Steve Spurrier or any other coach what he should or shouldn't do. But someone, somewhere is making a mistake on Craig. I believe that with all my heart.

Craig is a terrific athlete, but more than that, he is a leader, a solid citizen and a winner. He has everything it takes to win in the NFL. But since he doesn't fit the physical profile of an NFL quarterback, it seems he may never get a real shot. I thought Spurrier was going to give it to him.

I hope Craig gets his chance one day. He's the kind of guy you pull for to succeed.

THERE'S STILL HOPE, BUT ...

All is not lost for Auburn's baseball team, not yet anyway.

The Tigers are reeling. There can be no doubt about that. They were so close to a breakthrough weekend at Alabama, but instead returned home having lost gut-wrenching games on Friday and Saturday and ultimately swept out of town on Sunday. They followed that with a truly awful performance in an 11-5 loss to Troy State in Montgomery.

But let's take a look at what's left:

Vanderbilt, which comes to town this weekend, has won just four Southeastern Conference games. While a sweep is never a given, it is certainly a possibility. A sweep would even the SEC record at 12-12 and give the Tigers a badly needed boost of confidence.

Georgia, which comes to town a week later, started its SEC season 8-1 against Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Since then, the Bulldogs have gone 4-8 in SEC play. A sweep would be unlikely, but winning two of three at home would seem likely.

The final regular-season series is at Arkansas, which has spent the entire season in last place in the West. Fayetteville is not the easiest place to play, but there's nothing intimidating about the Razorbacks.

Six wins will probably mean an SEC tournament berth. Seven or more wins will probably assure an NCAA tournament bid. Fewer than six wins will almost certainly mean sacking up the bats after the Arkansas series.

Auburn, with four freshmen position players in the everyday starting lineup, is easily the youngest team in the SEC. But the real question right now is the pitching staff, one many believed was the best in the league going into the season.

Levale Speigner has been solid, but not spectacular. Eric Brandon has been woefully inconsistent for all of the SEC season. Of the weekend starters, only Colby Paxton seems to have taken dramatic steps forward since last season.

The real problem of late has been the bullpen. Cory Dueitt has been up and down. Arnold Hughey has been effective in limited duty. Steven Register was brilliant on Friday against Mississippi State and has had problems since. Kenny Clayton has rarely been seen.

If Auburn is to make a real run, the starters need to pick it up a notch. The bullpen needs to pick it up several notches. Will it happen? We'll know soon enough.

LAST WORD ON TUCKER

Auburn's signing last week of Rodney Tucker from Tallahassee Community College continues to generate debate. Tucker, of course, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after having been charged with sexual assault of a physically helpless female.

It is amazing to me that so many seem to equate accused with guilty. You don't have to look real hard to find plenty of doubt in the woman's story. Obviously, the judge and prosecutor must not have thought much of it.

Believe me, Auburn coaches and administrators looked very closely into the situation. They had no trouble finding people to vouch for Tucker's character.

For Tucker to have been denied an opportunity to continue his basketball career would have been a travesty.

DUBOSE TO DOTHAN

I'll admit to being shocked when I read that former Alabama head coach Mike DuBose had taken the head coach's job at Northview High School. Who would have ever expected as Alabama celebrated the SEC championship in 1998 that, in less than four years, DuBose would be coaching in high school.

I've known DuBose since he was a player at Alabama. Regardless of his mistakes on and off the field, I think he's a good man with good intentions who truly cares about the young men who come his way.

It took some courage to be willing to return to the high school ranks after being the head coach at Alabama.

I wish him well.


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