It's down to this for the Tigers: With games left against Florida and Arkansas at home and at Mississippi State, they must win two to be confident of an NCAA Tournament bid. Winning two would give them a 9-7 conference record, which in years past, has been an automatic ticket to the big show. If they win one, they might get in with a strong showing in the SEC Tournament, but there are no guarantees.
Auburn should beat Arkansas, though the Razorbacks showed signs of life in winning at Vanderbilt on Wednesday. The other win will be hard to come by. My guess is it will have to come Saturday against Florida if its going to come. The Gators aren't nearly as fearsome on the road as they are at home. Auburn, playing at the level it has at times this season, would have a chance to win. Playing at the level it has recently, it wouldn't have much of a chance.
Basketball is a funny game. Vanderbilt took Florida to overtime on Saturday and lost to Arkansas on Wednesday. Things often change dramatically from one game to the next. The Tigers have a chance. That's more than most of us would have expected.
I never meant to spark a political debate, but based on the responses I have received, Monday's column did just that. As a result, I feel compelled to revisit the subject one more time. I would point out that I never said Toni Smith, the Manhattanville basketball player who turns her back on the flag in protest against the government, should be in any way punished or barred from her protest. I do, however, believe she is wrong, and it has nothing to do with her politics.
I have views that many of you would consider liberal and I have views that many of you would consider conservative. I have voted for Democrats and I have voted for Republicans. Actually, I resent labels. I'm not a liberal and I'm not a conservative. I'm an American. In my heart, I believe most people are that way.
I suspect I would agree with some of Toni Smith's concerns. No one has convinced me we need spill American and innocent Iraqi blood in a war. Many things the government does concern me. I would applaud Toni Smith if she stepped forward and expressed her beliefs in a way that did not trample on the memories of so many who have given so much.
I will say again that I do not for a second question her right to turn her back on the flag if she chooses. Neither do I question my own right to say I think it's wrong. I would oppose any move to limit her right to do it. A lot of things are wrong that aren't illegal. That flag is not the symbol of the government. It is the symbol of my country and her country. Toni Smith will learn as she grows older that life is not all black and white. It is mostly gray. Tolerance, diversity and freedom to say what we want to say and be who what we want to be are what this country is all about. If that is who she wants to be, that is her right because she is an American.
I hope some day Toni Smith understands that when she turns her back on that flag, she turns her back on the heroes of history who gave her that right.