By Shane from Centerpoint
Somebody call a doctor. Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville is going to need one soon. First he allows Alabama coach Nick Saban to whip him so badly on the recruiting trail that he has to invent nonsensical, idiotic reasons for not wanting to recruit the best of the best players (whatever floats your boat Tommy). Now, on the media front, he is about to lose his finest â€œhard-fightingâ€ soldier. With the imminent departure of Phillip Marshall from the â€œHuntsville Timesâ€, the Tubmeister stands to lose his right-hand propaganda man.
In the past, whenever Tuberville had a potentially negative situation develop, he could always depend on Phillip to put a positive spin on the issue. Marshall was Tommyâ€™s best and most effective apologist among a small, closed group of newspaper journalists willing to tow the Auburn party line.
Turberville canâ€™t be happy, while the â€œJet Gateâ€ power players â€“ who are always sharpening their knives for the kill â€“ must be licking their chops. In between Tommy and that vicious group stands the public perception of Tuberville as a beloved coach, revered by all who are Auburn. In charge of protecting that fragile buffer sits Marshall, who leads a group that includes Charles Goldberg and Justin Moon. It is clearly evident when you read their work that these three definitely get their marching orders from Tommy. They serve as extensions of Tuberville and usually transmit to the masses exactly what Tommy wants them to hear.
Is the top Tiger nervous? If heâ€™s not, maybe he should be. There is no way to paint a pretty picture when losing an ally with the clout Marshall carries with the general public. It could take years for a new writer to establish the same amount of public trust that Phillip Marshall commands.
Considering the fact that Moon and Goldberg are far less effective communicators, Tubby no longer has a heavy hitter in his â€œinner circleâ€ to help him with damage control. One thing is for sure â€“ two Mickey Mouses donâ€™t equal one King Kong.
The evidence of Marshallâ€™s departure will begin to show the first time something happens down on the Plains and Tuberville wants to control the overall perception of that incident. Without Phillip to rely upon Tommyâ€™s version of the event may not be taken as seriously as before, when Marshall practically served as his public relationâ€™s spokesman.
Who knows? Maybe Tubs has someone in mind to replace Marshall. If he does, will the new guy be willing to sell out and follow the party plan? Will Tubby and Phillipâ€™s replacement become joined at the hip? When all is said and done, the potentially negative aspects of the deal might far outweigh the positives.
It has been speculated that Mr. Marshall is going to take his talents to the Internet. He is set to write for an ESPN affiliation called Auburn Undercover. This move by Marshall indicates that he is aware of the ever-increasing popularity of the new sports medium. It also serves to permanently link Marshall to Auburn. Apparently ESPN hired him because they feel he is entirely pro-Auburn. It has been rumored for years that Phillip Marshall is an Aubie homer. This latest move should remove all doubt.
Will Marshall have the same impact in the electronic media as he enjoyed through traditional methods? Better yet, does his former and possible future commander, Tommy Tuberville, even own a computer?
Most coaches would admit that it pays to have a high-ranking friend in the press. This guy was Tubbyâ€™s red-necked version of a team spokesman.
From all indications this latest move by Marshall has to be making a conservative control freak like Tuberville nervous. The Internet is not structured or regulated like the print media, which could create all kinds of potential problems for Tommy when he tries to get his message to the masses.
You can reach Shane via email at firstname.lastname@example.org