May 4, 2014
Auburn's success on the field is paying off in a big way on the recruiting trail. The Tigers have climbed to No. 3 in the 247Composite recruiting rankings. They are rated No. 2 by ESPN and No. 3 by Scout. Rivals has them at No. 8.
Second-year head coach Gus Malzahn says it is no accident that recruits have renewed interest four months after the Tigers played Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game.
"You see the success on the field last year really paying off in recruiting," Malzahn said. "A lot of guys saw the vision we had that was just talk the year before. We were able to reinforce it on the field, and I think that gave us a lot of credibility."
With more than a dozen seniors expected to play key roles on next season's team and juniors who could potentially leave for the NFL draft, the face of Auburn's team will change after the 2014 season. And that, Malzahn says, is being addressed.
"Last year we had a very good recruiting class," Malzahn said. "We feel very strong about where we are right now. We have a lot of good things happening. If you want to stay at this level, you have to keep recruiting and get the right kinds of players. We have to do a good job of keeping our staff intact. I think that was huge for us, keeping everybody in place for the second year."
Malzahn was in Talladega on Sunday as the honorary pace car driver for the Aaron's 499.
Toomer's Corner is now free of the poison Harvey Updyke put there under cover of darkness in 2010. That's a good thing. But the famed oak trees that watched over generations of Auburn students are gone for good.
It's sad that one cowardly individual could so warp a football rivalry that should be a good and healthy thing.
Watching Auburn's baseball team, you can't help but shake your head and wonder. The Tigers, shut out Friday and Saturday by Mississippi State, have pitched well enough to be a championship contender. But, with many of the same players back that contributed to last season's team leading the league in hitting, this team has gone into numerous extended slumps. Why? Answering that is above my pay grade.
Time is running out. After today's game against Mississippi State, there are series remaining at Kentucky and at home against LSU. Five more wins are probably needed to make a regional field. That's a tall order.
I read comments from pro football Hall of Famer Jim Brown about players being "exploited" in college football. In his mind it seems it's all the NCAA's fault. I guess I'm not bright enough to understand, but this "exploitation" argument has always seemed a bit strange to me. Here's what many seem to believe:
* High school player gets a scholarship to a major university.
* Player gets top-level coaching in top-level facilities.
* Player, who might or might not have a strong academic background, has access to tutors and all manner of academic support.
* Player doesn't take advantage of that support and doesn't get a degree.
* Player was "exploited" by the system.
Really? Sorry, but I'm not buying it. Never have and never will. In the first place, not getting a degree doesn't mean he was not better off having been there. In the second place, the degree was there to be had if he wanted it badly enough.
Until next time ...
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: