Phillip Marshall: Hall of Famers, bad breaks and more

May 19, 2014

I had a wonderful weekend in Houston, where my son Ben received his Ph.d from Rice University. Rice is a very impressive place with very impressive people. The only downer was I was not able to attend this year’s Alabama Sports Hall of Fame induction.

Two Auburn greats – former linebacker Bill Cody and former point guard Ruthie Bolton – were among the inductees. Two old friends – former Huntsville Times sports editor John Pruett and former Anniston Star sports editor George Smith – were named winners of the first Mel Allen Award for long-time service in sports journalism.

Cody was one of my childhood favorites. He was a brutally physical linebacker with speed and athleticism. He went on to a stellar career with the New Orleans Saints. Bolton was a star in the era when Joe Ciampi took Auburn to three straight women’s basketball national championship games. She was a scorer, a passer, a defender, a leader and most of all a winner. She went to an outstanding career in the WNBA.

Auburn’s softball and baseball teams suffered crippling injuries to pitchers at the worst possible times. And it proved costly to both.

With Marcy Harper out, Lexi Davis started all five of Auburn’s softball regional games, including two Saturday and two Sunday. She pitched the Tigers into a winner-take-all showdown with a gutsy performance in Sunday’s first game, but she was running on fumes when Minnesota rallied from a 6-3 deficit to win the big one.

With Keegan Thompson out, Dillon Ortman started Thursday’s game against LSU on four days’ rest and didn’t have his usual stuff. He came back with a gutsy performance of his own as the starter again Saturday. But the end result was that the Tigers were swept by LSU and did not make the 12-team field for the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The softball team’s near miss in Clint Myers’ first season as head coach put an exclamation point on what has been obvious almost from the start. It was no fluke that Myers took seven of eight Arizona teams to the College World Series, winning two national championships. And it is only a matter of time until he takes Auburn there, too.

First-year coach Sunny Golloway finished a puzzling and trying first season. A team he said had the talent to get to Omaha couldn’t get to Hoover, finishing 28-28 overall and 10-20 in the SEC. He said after Saturday’s game that the foundation was laid for better days ahead. He certainly has a track record as a winner.

Alabama coach Nick Saban probably wishes he’d used different words when he responded to a question about former West Virginia quarterback Pat White’s Twitter post implying he’d been offered illegal inducements to sign with Alabama.

Regardless, I don’t blame Saban for being irritated. Asking him about Alabama’s recruitment of White made no sense. It was more than a decade ago, and Saban was at LSU.

Auburn’s recruiting for the Class for 2015 is ranked No. 3 by all three major services. That is yet another example of the remarkable resurgence of Auburn football in the 16-plus months since Gus Malzahn was introduced as head coach.

Until next time …


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter:




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