Marshall Column: Coaches on the Move

Phillip Marshall writes about Auburn football and basketball in this report as well as other happenings around the SEC.

Monday morning ramblings...

Jimbo Fisher, LSU offensive coordinator and a former Auburn quarterbacks coach, might yet end up at Florida State.

The deal seemed done early Saturday, but it fell apart over issues that had nothing to do with money. Fisher could make more money by staying at LSU and could have made more by going to Alabama than he can make by going to Florida State.

Anyway, Fisher talked again with Florida State officials on Sunday. The offer is back on the table. Whether he will take it remains to be seen.

As it stands now, Fisher might go to Florida State, might stay at LSU or might talk to at least two NFL teams that have indicated interest.

What is certain is that he is not going to Alabama, where new coach Nick Saban offered to make him the highest paid assistant coach in college football history.

At Alabama, it seems that veteran offensive line coach Steve Marshall and Rice offensive coordinator Major Applewhite are likely to be offered an opportunity to share the offensive coordinator title on Saban's staff.

I guess such an arrangement has worked some places, but most of the time, it seems hard to pull off. At some point, someone has to be empowered to make the tough decisions...

The coaching carousel took another spin Sunday when Louisville's Bobby Petrino agreed to become Atlanta Falcons head coach. If Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich is as smart as I think he is, he'll be putting in a call to Fisher at the first opportunity...

Auburn's 68-65 basketball victory over Vanderbilt in its Southeastern Conference opener was big for a lot of reasons.

After a disappointing loss at Southern Mississippi, Jeff Lebo's team needed a shot of confidence and got it. Not since 2003 had the Tigers opened their SEC season with a victory.

The SEC schedule-makers did Auburn no favors in what is ahead now. Without Saturday's win, Auburn would have stood a very real chance of being winless through the first half of the SEC season.

In the next three weeks, the Tigers play at Kentucky, at LSU, Tennessee at home, at Mississippi State, Alabama at home, Florida at home and at South Carolina. If they can get even a win or two in running that gauntlet they might be able to make a little more noise in the second half of the season.

Lebo has said it, and it's obvious, that this team is better than his first two. His freshman class is a good bit more talented than the so-called recruiting experts said it was. But the Tigers are still a year or two away, it would appear, from squeezing into the first division in the dog-eat-dog SEC...

Auburn's next football season should be one of the more interesting in recent years.

The Tigers will, without any question, put more talent on the field in 2007 than they did in 2006. That's a good thing. They will also put much less experience on the field. That's not a good thing.

But the biggest challenge facing the 2007 Auburn football team will be the schedule. The Tigers play at Florida, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia. It'll take a heck of a team to split those four games...

Looking back on the Auburn season that ended in the Cotton Bowl, an 11-2 record is truly remarkable. The offense was No. 10 in the SEC in total yards. The defense was good but not great.

Anyone who ever questioned the value of a dominant kicking game need only look at Auburn's 2006 season...

The $32 million package Alabama gave Saban to leave the Miami Dolphins has gotten the attention of NCAA president Myles Brand.

At the opening of the NCAA's annual convention in Orlando, Brand pointed out that, over the past decade, only six institutions have had consistent budget surpluses. A large part of the problem, he said, is escalating salaries for football coaches.

"We have to start asking some hard questions at this point," Brand said. "Is it appropriate for institutions of higher learning to invest this much in a football coach?"

Regardless of how strongly Brand feels about the issue, there is really little he can do. The NCAA has no power and can't legally give itself power to regulate what a university pays a football coach or anyone else...

Until next time...

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