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Stan White

LAST SUMMER, AUBURN QUARTERBACK Stan White was musing about the
decline of the Tigers since his arrival in 1989. ''We have gone
downhill,'' he admitted. ''But I feel something good might happen. If
we win eight, nine, 10 games, that would be a successful season for
The words sounded suspiciously like whistling past the graveyard,
as if they were coming from White's lips and not his heart. Then the
glorious 11-0 fall of 1993 erupted, and Auburn wound up undefeated,
untied, unbowed, unmatched. Relaxing the other day at his home in
Hoover, a Birmingham suburb, White smiled his
bigger-than-the-outdoors smile and said, ''I was honored to go
through a year like we had.''
Yeah, but get this straight: Auburn was honored to have Stan White
as its quarterback. The Tigers simply wouldn't be hovering where they
are these days, at the top of the college football heap, if the
senior hadn't been in residence for the past five years.
Of course, the fans and sometimes the coaches have often been
blind to that. White simply started off too well. In 1990, during his
first game as Auburn quarterback, he passed for 324 yards and four
TDs against Cal State-Fullerton. He ended the season with a total of
2,242 yards and 14 touchdowns. He had started to make Auburn's
legendary quarterback, Pat Sullivan, look like a mud hen in
comparison. But then everything went up in feathers. In '91 White had
only eight touchdown throws along with 14 interceptions. The booing
commenced. In '92 White had just five TD passes and 16 interceptions.
The booing intensified. The team went 10-11-1 over the '91 and '92
seasons. Booooo. Says White about the adversity, ''It only makes you
stronger. But I remember once thinking as I heard the boos, I'm doing
the best I can. Man, don't people realize that?''
Pat Dye did. The former coach has jumped to White's defense,
saying, ''White had to bear the burden of quarterbacking a mediocre
football team. The big problems were around him.'' Still, even after
this season's performance, White gets no respect. He set 14 school
records, but naysayers point out that Sullivan threw 53 TD passes in
three years while White had only 40 in four. One of White's records,
they will add, was for most career interceptions (53). Auburn pushed
eight of its players for all-star recognition this year, but White
wasn't one of them. White threw 13 TD passes this fall, but
Tennessee's Heath Shuler had 25 and Georgia's Eric Zeier had 24. In
total offense White ranked an unimpressive fourth in the SEC.
All White did was accept the slings and arrows with class and
dignity. All he did was win. ''Sometimes,'' he says, ''people are too
quick to judge, and the innocent suffer.'' His father, Don, says
mildly, ''Justice usually works its way out.''