Marshall: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about Auburn and SEC football as well as basketball.

Friday ramblings...

If you are looking for positive spin, call it passion. If you are looking for negative spin, call it obsession. Call it what you want, but college football's unique place in our state's culture has been on full display in recent days.

Since last Sunday, when Alabama fired football coach Mike Shula, the search for his replacement has been the biggest story going. By mid-day Thursday, word was spreading that Steve Spurrier had taken the job and would leave South Carolina for Alabama.

Normally reliable sources said the deal was done, that Spurrier had been given a godfather deal, an offer he couldn't refuse.

But later Thursday, Spurrier reportedly told his players he wasn't going anywhere. And the story continues this morning.

One name that won't go away, despite a statement in which he strongly denied any interest, is that of Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban. And don't discount it. The longer the search goes on, the more likely it is that Saban is at least in the mix.

Any coach who comes to work in this state--at Alabama or Auburn--must deal with a unique situation. He'll be paid well, far better than most coaches. He'll have all the resources he needs to win in a big way. And if he does, he'll be a hero.

For the moment.

Perhaps nowhere in college football are memories shorter. How short? Since 1989, four coaches--three at Alabama and one at Auburn--have been fired or essentially fired less than a year after having 10-win seasons.

In 1989, Bill Curry was 10-0 at Alabama before losing to Auburn for the fourth consecutive time and to Miami in the Sugar Bowl. He was soon gone to Kentucky, having resigned before the axe fell.

In 1997, Terry Bowden was 10-3 at Auburn and lost 30-29 to Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. He left in a huff halfway through the 1998 season, choosing to walk away from his players and his program when it became obvious he would be fired at season's end.

In 1999, Mike Dubose was 10-3 at Alabama and won the SEC championship. He beat Florida twice. Seven games into the 2000 season, he was told he would not be retained.

In 2005, Mike Shula was 10-2 at Alabama. In May of 2006, he received a contract extension and a large raise. We all know how that turned out.

And the beat goes on...

Auburn's young basketball team faces what could be its sternest test of the season Sunday when No. 2 Pittsburgh visits Memorial Coliseum. Not since South Carolina brought a No. 1 ranking to town in 1969 has a nonconference team so highly ranked played at Auburn.

But it's not just a test for Auburn's basketball team. It's also a test of how much interest there really is in Auburn basketball.

It'll be interesting to see how many people care enough to show up to watch...

Nothing is set in stone, but it appears the Cotton Bowl is by far the most likely destination for Auburn's football team.

If Arkansas beats Florida in Saturday's SEC Championship Game, the deal is done. Auburn will play the loser of the Big 12 Championship Game between Oklahoma and Nebraska in Dallas.

If Florida wins, the Outback and Capital One are possibilities, but even then, a trip to the Cotton Bowl would still be the most likely outcome...

Am I the only one that gets tired of hearing LSU coach Les Miles whine? His latest thing is that LSU, despite having two losses, is somehow more deserving of being in the championship game than Arkansas, which has one.

His rationale is that LSU beat Arkansas. Auburn, of course, beat LSU. And Florida. Auburn is the only team in college football with wins over two top five teams. Auburn isn't going for the same reason LSU isn't going. It didn't win when it had to win. Arkansas did.

The SEC has an unequal schedule. That's the way it is, the way it has always been and the way it will always be.

That's life...

Until next time...


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