Auburn's biggest win was off the field

By Staff
Bob Ingram, Alabama Scene
MONTGOMERY–Some of my War Eagle buddies will never buy this, but Auburn's greatest victory in recent weeks was not winning the SEC championship but getting off of the probation imposed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
In this football-mad state this may be hard to accept, but if SACS had taken the next step and Auburn had lost its accreditation it would have been a disaster. The university would have lost millions of dollars in federal grants and student aid and the degrees awarded AU grads would have been all but meaningless.
SACS had put Auburn on probation for a variety of reasons but the most serious charge was that the Board of Trustees was much too deeply involved in the day to day management of the University, and especially the athletic program.
There were also serious questions about the financial links that existed between trustees, most especially between Bobby Lowder of Montgomery and Jack Miller of Mobile. In fact, only days before the SACS decision a faculty group had called on both of them to resign.
Neither resigned and probation has been lifted. But there is a persistent rumor that Miller may indeed step down in the near future.
And if you are looking for someone to thank for bailing AU out of a lot of trouble, look no further than acting President Ed Richardson, who from the day he took office made his No. 1 goal the re-accreditation of the institution. You might give a similar pat on the back to Gov. Bob Riley.
It is a worthy goal but a hard look at the numbers suggest that it is not likely to happen in the next election.
Certainly the overwhelming Republican victories in the recent General Election were encouraging, but that was due almost entirely to the fact that the name of George W. Bush was at the top of the ballot. The Bush coattails won't be available in 2006.
Alabama voters are a strange breed. They vote solidly Republican in presidential elections and as often as not in statewide races. But in many counties…in most counties…Democrats nearly always win the local offices.
Not all of the publicity, however, has been favorable. He has been pounded editorially by the Alabama press by what some call a "book burning", and he received something less than kind treatment on the Fox Network, which is viewed by many as the voice of conservatives.
The odds on Allen's bill passing the Legislature–Slim and none, and as you surely know, Slim is out of town.
William Essex, who at 44 years of age should have known better, apparently won the race over his buddy, James Turner, 33.
I say that because when the two men were stopped by law enforcement officers Essex was charged with driving 167 miles per hour while Turner was clocked at only 165 mph.
That is not a misprint: 167 miles per hour and 165 miles per hour.
For Essex to be arrested for speeding is old hat.
He had been ticketed five times for speeding or reckless driving since 1990.
For almost breaking the sound barrier on his cycle Essex was sentenced to 90 days in jail last week and fined $500.
Turner's case will be heard in January.

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