Published September 10, 2012 - 8:20am
NEW: Discuss this topic in the Google+ community for SEC fans.
Joker Phillips. Derek Dooley. And now, Gene Chizik.
Chizik lost ‘the game’ he couldn’t lose Saturday against Mississippi State, and the Tigers didn’t even pose a threat the entire game. The 28-10 final seemed more like 35-0, and it very well could have ended that way if not for some miscues on MSU’s end, namely giving up the 100-yard kickoff return to Onterio McCalebb.
Can an SEC and BCS national championship-winning coach really be on the hot seat?
Chizik is squarely on it.
Cam Newton delivered greatness in 2010, a 14-0 year with an SEC Championship and national championship.
But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Cam Newton transcended greatness with Gus Malzahn calling the plays. Both have left chasms behind in the Auburn program that are not even close to being filled.
Two coaching coordinator changes later, and the team is no better…and may be looking worse. Brian VanGorder’s defense can’t bust a grape, and Scot Loeffler’s offense is regressing at a rapid rate.
Outside of 2010, Chizik sits 16-12 as the Tigers’ head coach, including an 0-2 start this season. The Tigers have lost three straight regular games by 18 points. Chizik is 8-7 since the beginning of 2011. It was bad, but it’s getting ugly fast.
Auburn is not just losing games; they’re getting destroyed in remarkable fashion.
Clemson’s Andre Ellington ran for 228 yards the first week, and Clemson as a team ran for 320 yards. Auburn even knew going in that Clemson would pound the ball. What do the Tigers do for an encore? Try five turnovers and a drubbing against Mississippi State, a game in which they couldn’t get out of their own way. It was awful and bewildering for Auburn as a program.
Clemson is a top-ranked team in the country, and it looked like Auburn made mistakes against a better and more athletic CU team. AU can live with that. Auburn kept that game close and really had a chance to win if a couple plays went the right way late. That’s all you can ask for.
But this game? The young team excuse is getting old. This group returns 15 starters from last year, nine of 11 on defense. Auburn has notched three straight top recruiting classes, but the product on the field shows no development or progress. Auburn’s linebackers are completely invisible on the second level, and the quarterback position is atrocious. Kiehl Frazier, himself, was responsible for those five turnovers last weekend, and he finished the first half with -2 yards passing. I didn’t know that was possible.
The schedule is not getting any easier, either. With the program in its current state, the Tigers have three games you can pencil in as wins…three! ULM, New Mexico State and Alabama A&M all are likely wins. But what about swing games like Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Texas A&M? We know what will happen against Alabama, LSU and Georgia.
With Chizik and his team’s back against the wall, how will Auburn respond? All of the SEC will be watching.
If Auburn loses to ULM next Saturday, and…I just don’t want to go there.
Want more? Check out our June 2011 analysis of Gene Chizik’s contract when Auburn awarded him with a raise. Read that, then come back and chime in with your thoughts.