Time for a fresh start at Auburn

NCAA Football: Georgia at Auburn

In the face of a current 2-8 record that no Auburn fan saw coming, head coach Gene Chizik’s fate seems all but sealed.  But fans are calling for more than just the coach’s job; they want heads to roll throughout the athletic department.  With rumblings of Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs possibly being retained, the natives are getting very, very restless.

SEC football fans take a lot of flak (mainly from other fans) for being delusional, hot-headed, misinformed, etc., but they also deserve much credit.  They love their teams, they study their teams, and they are usually more in touch with the pulse of their program than many think.  Fans see what’s happening. They’re perceptive, but maybe more importantly, they don’t forget.

They haven’t forgotten that Chizik was Jay Jacobs’ hire.  They haven’t forgotten Chizik was Jacobs’ man.  Jacobs hand-picked Chizik to replace Tommy Tuberville after a 5-7 2008 season when Auburn fans only thought things were bad.  Jacobs has been in his head coach’s corner from Day 1.  That is a commendable trait, but in this case, an irreparable fault.

The two men will be forever linked, as they brought a National Championship to a proud program that had not seen one in over 50 years.  Sure, there was a guy named Cam Newton driving the bus to the crystal trophy in Glendale, AZ., but it’s hard to argue that it would have happened had Jacobs not been the AD that hired Chizik.  Every championship team over the years has had a player or two that has separated himself from the pack.  In 2010, Auburn’s just happened to be a transcendent quarterback that could literally do everything.  You can’t fault Chizik or Jacobs for that.

However, outside the 2010 season when the Tigers went 14-0, Chizik’s record at Auburn is 18-18.  People can debate Auburn’s rightful place in the college football world all they want, but whether one considers it a top-tier program or one that places a Top-10 product on the field a couple of times decade, .500 football will never be accepted on the Plains.

It’s also a stretch to think Auburn fans are too happy about a .666 winning percentage under Jacobs’ watch.  Since the 2005 season, Jacobs’ first full year as AD (hired in December of 2004), Auburn has played exactly 100 games – winning 66 and losing 34 – with over half of those losses coming with Chizik (Jacobs’ man) at the helm.

The Auburn football program has not looked so inept, so emotionless, and so uncompetitive in years.

It has fans heading for the Jordan-Hare exits midway through the 1st quarter of SEC games, something that has become a recurring theme.  A half-full stadium that seats over 87,000 says much (see the above image).

Auburn University president Jay Gogue has a tough decision to make.  But should it be that difficult?  This is a bottom-line world, and empty seats, along with decreased donations and an ever-growing disgruntled fan base severely affect the bottom line.  Add the fact that Auburn’s basketball and baseball programs have been below average, at best, during Jacob’s tenure, and the decision seems pretty obvious.

Jacobs is the man in charge of running a department that has every possible asset and all the support needed to be successful.  Fans use the term “Auburn Man”, sometimes ad nauseum, and Jacobs certainly fits the profile.  He’s an Auburn graduate and has been in some sort of notable position in the athletic department for 20 years.  He is known for his business acumen (some could easily argue the revamped contract he gave Chizik after 2010 which leaves his buyout currently at $7.5 million was hardly shrewd) and is, by all accounts, a very good man.  Unfortunately, being a good man does not go very far when running one of the premier athletic departments in the nation.

This Auburn football program is in a downward spiral, and it has become increasingly obvious that wholesale changes must be made.  Will Auburn president Gogue make the necessary changes?  If he wants to have a viable product to place on the football field in the foreseeable future, bringing fan and monetary support back, he knows what must be done.

There should be a clean break. A fresh start.

Photo Credit: John Reed-US PRESSWIRE

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COMMENTS

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  • Gene Chizik had the advantage of the perfect player at the perfect time and the perfect season. Much like Urban Meyer at Florida and Tim Tebow. Take away either of those players and they both are probably .500 coaches at best.

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