Marshall: Irons Brothers in the Spotlight

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about David Irons and Kenny Irons and who the top teams should be in the 2006 Southeastern Conference football divisional races. He also touches on several other topics concerning AU sports.

Friday morning ramblings...

Auburn tailback Kenny Irons and cornerback David Irons have an opportunity to do something very special this football season. I haven't researched it closely, but I can't remember a time when two brothers made first-team All-Southeastern Conference in the same football season.

Kenny is clearly the top returning running back in the SEC, having led the league in rushing last season. David might well be the top returning cornerback. Both have been chosen on preseason All-SEC teams. Both could have lucrative futures in the NFL.

Even better, both will leave Auburn with degrees. David is set to graduate this August with a degree in sociology. Kenny could have graduated in August but chose to concentrate on getting ready for the season and will graduate in December with a degree in business economics...

Kenny Irons rushed for 1,293 yards as a junior.

Is Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron the first ever in the SEC to proclaim a quarterback his starter before that quarterback even arrives on campus? I believe he might be.

After Brent Schaeffer signed with the Rebels out of junior college, Orgeron said he would be the starter in 2006.

Schaeffer, of course, was the starter as a freshman for three games of the 2004 season at Tennessee, though he actually never played close to as much as Erik Ainge. He was transferred to the College of the Sequoias, a junior college in Visalia, Calif., after getting into trouble in the offseason after his freshman year.

Now, there is apparently some question about whether he'll even wear an Ole Miss uniform. His mother was quoted as saying he must pass two correspondence courses to graduate from junior college and gain his eligibility. She said he had to do two years worth of work in one year.

That raises a question. What happened to the credit hours he should have gotten as a freshman at Tennessee?...

Former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix, in his fifth season at Georgia Tech and third as offensive coordinator, will call plays for the first time this season, taking over those duties from head coach Chan Gailey.

He won't get a grace period. The Yellow Jackets open their season at home on Sept. 2 against Notre Dame.

"The funny thing about it, the spotlight is not on me," Nix said. "The spotlight is going to be on them and on our defense. We have the chance to go in and sort of be the sleeper."

Nix could take a big step toward reaching his goal of becoming a head coach if he can make the Yellow Jackets productive on offense. He has never made a secret of his ultimate goal. He wants to be the head coach at Auburn. It wouldn't surprise me if that happens one day...

Almost every preseason prediction has Auburn, LSU, Florida and Georgia, in some order, as the SEC's top four teams.

Who would be the most likely candidates to join that foursome as contenders? I would say Tennessee, which still has ample talent; Arkansas, which returns 20 starters; and South Carolina, which has Steve Spurrier.

Tennessee will be one of the more intriguing stories in the league. The Vols massively underachieved last season, staggering to a 5-6 record. They will, no doubt, be a hungry bunch this season. David Cutcliffe is back in his old job as offensive coordinator.

Coach Phil Fulmer

Another bad season would, at least, turn the heat up on head coach Phillip Fulmer. It could even cost him his job. A good season would bring some calm to Big Orange country.

Tennessee still has championship-level athletes, if Fulmer can convince them to stay out of trouble. But it would be a really big surprise if one of the four favorites isn't celebrating in Atlanta in December...

Though it wasn't to be officially discussed at today's Auburn Board of Trustees meeting, the process of preparing to build a new basketball arena is moving right along.

It would take an unexpected turn of events for it not to happen. The biggest question remains where to build it. An announcement should come sometime early in the fall...

Until next time...

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