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Phillip's blog: 5 tough days

It’s been an interesting five days Auburn athletics. That might be putting it kindly.

Senior Editor Phillip Marshall

Dominating the news, of course, were the allegations made on HBO by four former players that they were paid either while at Auburn or before they arrived at Auburn. And along came the weekend and a second consecutive meltdown by a baseball team that should be playing far better.

So let’s start with the big news:

Just what do the allegations by Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray mean to Auburn’s future? It all depends on whether they can be substantiated and whether McClover and Reddick’s allegations, which if true happened beyond the statute of limitations, can even be considered at all.

Allegations alone aren’t enough to set off a full-blown NCAA investigation. There has to be evidence to show the allegations are likely to be true.

McClover was quoted as saying the talked to an NCAA investigator but wouldn’t give her details or names involved in the alleged payments. Ramsey’s father said he didn’t know if his son would talk to NCAA investigators or not.

My gut feeling is that nothing is going to come of this because I don’t see how any of it can be substantiated. But then again, you never know what might happen as Auburn and the NCAA try to find the truth. Only when that process is complete will we have an idea where this headed, and that’s going to take a while.

On to baseball:

Coming off a West Division championship last season, there was every reason to believe this Auburn baseball team, John Pawlowski’s third, would be a contender again. For the past two weekends, it has certainly not looked the part.

The starting pitching has been average at best, probably below average. The bullpen has been all but helpless. The ever-changing lineup has struggled to find consistency on offense. Seniors have fumed when lifted for pinch hitters or left in the dugout from the start.

Add it all together and the most experienced team in the SEC is in last place in the West Division. Sunday, Vanderbilt completed its first-ever sweep at Plainsman Park. The previous weekend, a weak Mississippi State team swept the Tigers in Starkville.

In being outscored 28-10 by No. 1 Vanderbilt, the Tigers seemed to have little confidence and little chemistry. They were in all three games midway through, only to be overwhelmed. They made mistakes that an SEC team can’t make.

With 21 SEC games left, all is certainly not lost. But if things don’t turn around soon, the hole is going to be too deep.

The crowds were impressive over the weekend at Plainsman Park, but that won’t last if things don’t change on the field.

Moving on:

It’s kind of hard to figure why we don’t see the same feeding frenzy about reports that street agent Willie Lyles shopped Pat Peterson, who became an All-American at LSU, for $80,000. A similar story sure did dominate football coverage for months, leading to attacks on Cam Newton’s character and on Auburn’s program. Strange. …

A little more about the HBO special: I am told that, before conducting interviews, HBO indicated to the Auburn players who later made allegations that they would have an opportunity to help future players be paid legally. What a joke. …

If HBO is convinced it had the story right, why was it intimidated by threats of lawsuits if coaches were named? …

Alabama lost 12 players from last season’s team – eight seniors, three juniors who left early and a transfer. With the addition of wide receiver Duron Carter, there are 23 new signees. Two others grayshirted last season, making a total of 25. Looks like lots of Alabama players are going to get hurt and have to go on medical hardship scholarships. …

Until next time …

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