Auburn should have let Nick Marshall speak

HOOVER, Ala. -- For all the good that has come Auburn's way in the past year, it dropped the ball this time.

The announcement that star quarterback Nick Marshall, who was cited Friday for possession of a small amount of marijuana, won't be attending this week's SEC media days was an error. This was an opportunity for the face of the program to stand up and confront his recent mistake. This was a chance for a potential Heisman Trophy candidate to own up to his transgression and be a leader.

This was a perfect time for Marshall, who now has two off-field strikes on his college résumé, to take responsibility and show some maturity with all eyes and tape recorders on him.

Instead, his coach and teammates are left to talk about him. They have to deal with the distraction that Marshall created, and that isn't fair to the players who will be in attendance. Tight end C.J. Uzomah, who is replacing Marshall, shouldn't have to spoil his media days experience by covering for his teammate. It's not the responsibility of Uzomah or any of his teammates, but now they will have to face questions their captain should face.

Malzahn met with members of the media earlier Monday and talked about Marshall being left home because of the honor and privilege it is to attend SEC media days. He made it clear that Marshall didn't deserve such an honor and that one of his punishments was that he would have to stay home and think about what he had done.

What that means is that the story will continue to linger until Marshall talks. Instead of putting Marshall, who is a senior, out there to discuss his situation and get it over with, Auburn will have to deal with what probably isn't a major legal issue.

A simple statement won't do when you're dealing with one of the most important figures on your team.

I understand that Marshall doesn't care about the limelight and is a quiet individual. But that doesn't matter. He is the quarterback and the face of Auburn's football team. This is where leaders stand up and shoulder the blame.

Marshall isn't getting that opportunity, and that's a mistake.