Auburn University officials need to get their act together and move forward with long-planned upgrades for Plainsman Park, something that was originally supposed to happen two head coaches prior to the arrival of Butch Thompson, who just finished his fourth season in charge of the program.
A very good coach and a very good leader of young men, Thompson is someone I have major respect for because of the success he has had with the Auburn baseball program and how he is doing it. He treats players, fans and everyone he meets with respect and has made AU baseball enjoyable again.
Baseball coaches at Auburn are competing at a major disadvantage vs. many of their fellow Southeastern Conference opponents whose rosters are bolstered by players attending college on lottery-based state scholarships or other types of financial aid that allow programs like fellow College World Series participants Mississippi State and Vanderbilt to get around the NCAA-imposed limitation of 11.7 scholarships for an entire baseball roster.
Upgrades were supposed to be happening at Plainsman Park as soon as the Tigers finished the 2019 season, but there is no indication that is happening. Apparently, the bids for the upgrades came in over budget and once again renovations for the facility are on hold. That’s not good because only Missouri has worse facilities than Auburn in the SEC.
Inheriting a program in disarray when he arrived, Thompson fixed that situation in season one. In season two he put the Tigers into the NCAA playoffs after having his first full year to upgrade the roster with new recruits and implement his system.
The following year the Tigers won an NCAA regional for the first time since 1999. This past season they won a regional and super regional to advance the Tigers to the College World Series for the first time since 1997.
With Thompson running the show, the Tigers could be entering the most successful period in Auburn baseball history, but there should be concern from university administrators that that could go up in smoke if Thompson loses patience and says “yes” the next time another university with a strong commitment to baseball asks him to manage its program.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter