April 19, 2014
When I sat down to write this column, I was going to write about the storylines for today's A-Day game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. I was going to write about newcomers like wide receiver D'haquille Williams and safety Derrick Moncrief, about who would replace Jay Prosch at fullback and who might be ahead at left tackle.
That's what I was going to do, but I changed my mind.
Spring games are what they are. Williams might make a spectacular catch or two today, and that would be great for the fans. Moncrief might level a wide receiver going across the middle, and that would be great for everybody but the wide receiver.
The thing is, what Williams or Moncrief does Nick Marshall or Cameron Artis-Payne does or any other individual does is not where the focus probably should be in this game, which really is a scrimmage. I mean, you'd better not blink or you won't see numerous Auburn starters. The field will be flooded with walk-ons by the fourth quarter, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.
So if the focus isn't on what individual players do, where should it be?
If I was Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn or one of his assistants, I'd want to see if players are pulling together in the same direction, if they are enjoying the journey, if they believe in each other and are willing to sacrifice for each other, if they know what they are doing and can do it at high speed. Those things aren't always easy to recognize. But the most successful coaches are perceptive enough to recognize them.
I thought about that tonight when Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams, the star running backs on the unbeaten 2004 team, were inducted into the Tiger Trail.
Williams, Brown, quarterback Jason Campbell and cornerback Carlos Rogers were all taken in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft. They all worked hard and did things the right way on and off the field. When your best players are also your hardest workers and best leaders, that's when you win championships.
I enjoyed visiting with former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who did a whole lot of really good things in his 10 seasons at Auburn. He seems to be enthusiastic as he heads toward his second season at Cincinnati, which is very close to his wife Suzanne's home town.
"It's a lot of fun," Tuberville said. "When I left here, I knew I was going to get back into coaching. I went to work for ESPN, and that really let me know I wanted to get back into coaching. I went to Texas Tech and had a great time there. I got an opportunity to work with (athletics director) Whit Babcock and, of course, take Suzanne home. We have a chance to win a lot of games."
Tuberville introduced Williams and Brown for induction into the Tiger Trail on Friday night. He won't attend today's A-Day game as a former coach but as the dad of walk-on quarterback Tucker Tuberville. He did the same for the Iron Bowl, bringing along a wealthy Cincinnati booster.
"He said `I've always wanted to see an SEC game,'" Tuberville said. "I said `This is not an SEC game. This is the Iron Bowl.' He still can't quit talking about that game. It made a lasting impression."
Former Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall, now a trucking executive in Albany, Ga., was also on hand for the festivities Friday night. Nall and the late Cleve Wester, who was inducted to the Tiger Trail, were close friends.
The NCAA decision that unlimited meals and snacks can be provided for athletes was a good one, but "unlimited" is a big word. You can be assured that, at the highest level, we're about to see food competition. That has to be a good thing if you're a player.
Until next time ...
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: