Marshall: Coliseum Project Making Progress

Friday ramblings...It's happening quietly, away from the pubic eye, but Auburn's move toward building a new basketball arena is steadily continuing.

The most popular model for what Auburn officials would like remains the arena at Old Dominion. Much of the current focus is on where such an arena would be built. Among the places being considered are parking lots near current athletics facilities and open spaces further removed.

The benefit of building on an existing parking lot is that there would already be parking available around the arena. To build further out would necessitate building parking lots to service the arena, and parking lots are expensive.

It seems more likely with the passing of time that Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, home for Auburn basketball since 1968, is in its final years. No final decision has been made, but the current thinking is that, once a new arena is ready, Beard-Eaves will probably be torn down, especially if an existing parking lot is lost.

Why? There are two major reasons. First and foremost, whether it is used for basketball or not, the building will require millions of dollars worth of maintenance that should have been done routinely over the years and wasn't. Second, there is dire need for space for parking. Only those who go to school or work routinely on the Auburn campus understand just what an issue parking is.

Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum has a new floor that is almost ready for use.

No date has been set for an announcement, but it seems likely the arena issue will be close to resolution by the time the Board of Trustees next meets on June 30.

As we've said in this space for months, barring unexpected complications, it's going to happen...

Of the thousands of athletes whose paths I have crossed in 36-plus years in this business, Charles Barkley is one of my handful of favorites.

From the time he was at Auburn, Barkley has been a delight to be around. One of my favorite stories:

During Barkley's final season, after Auburn had won a game, I asked him in the dressing room if he planned to return for his senior season. He said, "Mr. Marshall, I came here to win a championship ring. I haven't done that yet, and I'm coming back to get one."

Moments later, as I was talking to another player, I heard someone else ask him the same question. His response? "I don't like the way they've treated Coach (Sonny) Smith. I'm gone after this season."

Why would he tell two different stories within moments of each other? Because he wanted to see it reported both ways. He was just having a good time with it. Charles never took things too seriously.

Charles has a way of making news and he made some more recently when he said he'd lost some $10 million gambling at casinos. It's his money and he has plenty of it, but I do wonder if Charles has ever stopped to think how many lives he could have impacted, how many children he could have given a chance they won't otherwise have, with that $10 million...

It was only a matter of time before sleaze started to show in Southern California's football program.

Surrounded by the glitz, glitter and money of Hollywood, coach Pete Carroll has welcomed entertainment types into his program. With no NFL franchise in Los Angeles, Southern Cal players have been treated like rock stars.

Now there are serious questions, the most prominent one being the dealings of Reggie Bush and his family.

Should USC have to forfeit games, its 2003 Associated Press national championship and 2004 BCS championship could be called into question. Could that have an impact on Auburn, left out of the BCS championship game at the end of the 2004 season?

Not likely.

Even if USC was stripped of the championship, it would probably be vacated. There would be no champion. If the championship was awarded to someone else, it would probably be Oklahoma because it was the Sooners who played opposite USC in the championship game.

The real question is whether the Pac-10 and the NCAA have enough guts to really go after USC.

My guess? Probably not...

Freshman pitcher Paul Burnside is having a remarkable season for Auburn's baseball team. In 22 innings in Southeastern Conference play, Burnside has yet to give up an earned run.

Two years ago, as a junior at Jeff Davis High School in Montgomery, Burnside was afraid his career was over. He's had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He returned a year later, but says only in recent months has he returned to pre-surgery form.

Fourth-year junior Chris Dennis, who missed last season after having Tommy John surgery, is still going through the same process.

"In the fall, he'd ask me questions and I'd ask him questions and we'd kind of compare," Burnside said. "I told him he might want to be 100 percent right now, but he's not going to be. Half the stuff is mental.Your mind is basically the hardest thing to overcome."...

Until next time...

Premium Subscription Signup

Subscribe to Magazine Only

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories