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What Would Shug Think?

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By Jay Coulter
jccoulter@gmail.com

Auburn people have always prided themselves on being different than that other school in the state. Auburn people carry themselves with dignity and class. In recent years, most of us shook our heads in disbelief as Alabama fans booed their players off the field after tough losses. We said Auburn people would never do something like that.

Legendary Auburn coach Shug Jordan was known as the "gentleman coach." He demanded that his players play with class, dignity and respect. When asked once about a team’s fans booing its players, Jordan replied that Auburn people would never do that.

What would Shug think now?

I’ve been going to Auburn games for more than 35 years. What I witnessed in the first quarter of Saturday’s game with Miss State was the most despicable display of sportsmanship I’ve ever seen in my life – and it didn’t involve the players on the field.

As quarterback Brandon Cox threw his second interception of the game, a chorus of boos rang down from the stands. Fat white guys who never graced a college football field screamed at kids who have more discipline and work ethic at age 22 than they’ll ever have in their lives.

That’s what has become of the sport we love.

We’ve grown accustom to this in recent years. When it happened Saturday, I thought it was classless, but still dismissed it. But things would get far worse.

As expected Kodi Burns was welcomed with deafening applause. That’s perfectly OK. But when Cox returned to the field a few plays later, the boos became even louder. At that point I was embarrassed for Auburn and felt for the young man who has brought so much good to Auburn.

For me the experience was unique. I was seated directly in front of Brandon Cox’s grandparents. The look of sadness and disappointment is something that I’ll remember the rest of my life. Those fine people didn’t deserve to witness that. They were the kindest people you will ever meet.

Did Cox need to be benched? Sure he did. Auburn needed a change and they needed it fast. Was it OK to cheer loudly for Burns? You bet it was. But boo the quarterback that has lead you to two straight wins over Alabama and an 11 win season?

I can honestly say that I never thought I would see that in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

And for those of you who did boo Cox, consider this: we’ll probably need that young man down the road – perhaps even Saturday night. What has your actions done to his self confidence? What effect has it had on the team?

What did Burns think about it?

"When they booed Brandon, I was down because that’s the leader of the team, and I don’t like that at all."

Enough said. You stay classy Auburn.