Marshall Answers Reader Questions

Columnist Phillip Marshall empties the mailbag to answer questions from readers.

Cleaning out the mailbox on a rainy Monday morning …

One of the good things about modern technology is that email has made it so quick and easy for readers to make their feelings known. Those feelings are often strong.

So here we go with another round:

Why do you do it? Why do you have to write every year at this time about how much you dislike recruiting? You've made your point. Give it a rest!

You have made your point as well, and it is a good one. Actually, I don't dislike recruiting. I recognize it is the engine that drives college athletics. What I do dislike is the celebrity status bestowed on teen-age kids who haven't set foot on a college field.

Hey, Phillip, I love reading your columns. Tell me, who do you think is the biggest recruiting bust you've seen at Auburn?

The biggest bust would probably have to be running back Alan Evans. He was a Parade All-American from Enterprise who signed in 1982, the same year as Bo Jackson. Most people said he was the top running back in the nation. He didn't get it done at Auburn, transferred to Chattanooga and didn't get it done there either. You just never know.

Phillip, who do you think will be favored in the SEC next season?

I wrote last week that I believe LSU will be favored in the West and Florida in the East. Personally, from what I see, I'd favor Auburn in the West and Florida in the East. I would also say to look out for Tennessee in the East. The Vols still have plenty of talent. The return of David Cutcliffe will help them.

Why do you act like who our pitiful performance in the bowl game doesn't matter? It sure matters to those of us who spent lots of money to go down there and be subjected to that performance.

Of course it matters. I never said it didn't. Every game matters, and pitiful is a pretty good word to describe Auburn's performance. It would have been a big thing to win 10 games for the second straight season and finish in the top five. What I said was that, in the big picture, it won't have a lot of impact, and it won't. It had no discernable impact on recruiting and it will have minimal impact on the preseason polls next summer.

I was shocked by the way our team played against Wisconsin. Do you have an inside information on what happened?

I have no inside information that would explain that. Maybe it was having too much fun. Maybe some guys were already thinking about the NFL. Maybe it was overconfidence. The preparation was no different than for other bowl games, and there were no indications such a performance was coming.

Coach Jeff Lebo's team is winless in the SEC this season.

Why do you like to criticize Auburn fans for not coming to basketball games? Maybe if the product on the floor was better more people would come.

In basketball, more than any other sport, the home crowd can have a direct impact on who wins. At places where basketball is big, the fans come to be part of the event and to help their team win, not just to be entertained. Personally, I have never been comfortable viewing college athletics as a "product."

Phillip, I am retired and live out of state. I don't get as much news on my Tigers as I would like. I worry when I read stories about Coach Tuberville maybe interviewing for other college jobs or NFL jobs. What do you think are the chances of him leaving sometime soon? Is he still mad about jetgate?

I don't think Tuberville has any intention of leaving Auburn. The contract he signed after the 2004 season makes him one of the most highly paid coaches in the game. I fully expect him to finish out his coaching career at Auburn. I can tell you for sure that he has no interest at all in coaching in the NFL. As for jetgate, he'll never forget it, but he's moved on. At least that's my impression.

Did we make a mistake with Jeff Lebo? I'm starting to wonder if this basketball team is going to win an SEC game.

No, Auburn did not make a mistake in hiring Jeff Lebo. He's a terrific coach, a terrific guy and he is going to win. First, the freshmen who are the bulk of the team have to grow up. Given time and commitment from the administration, Lebo will get it done in a big way.

Until next time …

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