Marshall: New Arena Project on Front Burner

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about several Auburn athletic programs in his latest column for AUTigers.com.

Ramblin' around on Friday morning...

It's the hottest topic going in Auburn athletics. Will there be a new basketball arena or will there be a new practice facility and updates to aging Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum?

Athletic director Jay Jacobs and president Ed Richardson talk carefully when addressing the subject, as is prudent. But others close to the process, with the advantage of not having to put their names on record, are more outspoken.

The bottom line: Barring a change of direction, which is unlikely but still could happen, the decision will be made in the weeks ahead to build a new arena seating some 8-9,000 people and including significant premium seating.

Where it will be located, what form it will take, exactly how it will be financed, how long it will take to build and the future of Beard-Eaves are questions that still must be answered.

Jacobs and Richardson inherited a mess in terms of basketball facilities. While other Auburn sports were getting state-of-the-art facilities, basketball was left waiting like a beggar on the street.

At this juncture, a new arena is the best way to clean up that mess and give coach Jeff Lebo a real opportunity to build a consistent winner...

Has a Southeastern Conference basketball team ever been more impressive than Florida was in crushing UCLA to win the national championship? If one has, I haven't seen it.

The Gators, with four sophomores in the starting lineup, made it look easy. It was obvious five minutes into the game who was going to win.

Florida wasn't the best team in the SEC over the course of the regular season. It wasn't even the best team in the East. But when it counted most, on the biggest stage in the college game, the Gators were clearly the best...

Word from the West is that LSU baseball coach Smoke Laval could be in big trouble if the Bayou Bengals don't turn things around. They are 2-7 going into this weekend's series at Tennessee. Skip Bertman's five national championships are a tough act to follow...

If there is one position that worries Auburn coaches more than any other as the long wait for the beginning of two-a-days unfolds, it is offensive tackle. Marcus McNeill and Troy Reddick were starters there last season as seniors.

King Dunlap (77), who will be a redshirt junior this fall, will be counted on to be a starter this season.

Junior King Dunlap and senior Jonathan Palmer will be the players to beat, with junior Leon Hart lurking behind. Offensive line coach Hugh Nall says they all need to get tougher and more consistent...

It doesn't take a baseball expert to know that Auburn's baseball team is short-handed. The most talented players on the mound and in the field are freshmen, and that's not a good thing in any SEC sport.

There's not much good about being 14-18 overall and 3-6 in the SEC, but there is still plenty for which to play going into this weekend's series at Ole Miss.

After winning last weekend's series two games to one over Kentucky, the Tigers are tied for eighth overall in the SEC. Had they not lost two they should have won--Friday night games against South Carolina and Kentucky--they'd be 5-4.

It's not out of the question that they could finish in the top eight and squeeze into the SEC Tournament...

It appears former Alabama star Mike Davis, who resigned at Indiana just ahead of the ax, will be named to succeed Mike Anderson as UAB basketball coach. Word on the street is that former Auburn assistant Tracy Dildy, who resigned abruptly at Ole Miss, plans to join Davis.

That could make for some interesting recruiting battles...

Until next time...


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