Circling the Drain

By Posted on: October 15th, 2012 in Football 39 Comments »
au-ole miss

Few will write it yet. I will. Gene Chizik will not return as Auburn head coach next season. Nothing prophetic in that statement. Barring a monumental turnaround that includes wins over Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama, this program will again be in the market for a new football coach.

It’s not a reach to say this is the most astonishing season in Auburn history. Many will debate whether it’s the worst ever, but there’s no arguing these coaches have done less with more than any in school history.

The reality today is that Auburn must win Saturday in Nashville to have any hope of winning a conference game this season. Such a win will do little to help Chizik’s cause. With six games left, the hay is in the barn, as Pat Dye likes to say.

WDE has been replaced with WTF.

On the surface, it sounds ridiculous to suggest that Auburn people would call for a coaching change. With a national championship and two eight win seasons, surely Chizik deserves another year?

Look just below the surface and you’ll see there’s no other option.

Outside of the narrow two-point loss to LSU on September 22nd, Auburn has lost its last five conference games by margins of 21, 17, 18, 28 and 40 points.

Auburn’s average margin of defeat to the two Mississippi schools: 19.5 points. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t get much worse than that number.

Last week, we saw the early stages of this team getting away from the coaching staff. Imagine a player on Nick Saban’s squad making comments to the media like Sammy Coates did last Tuesday. Say what you will, I can assure you that wouldn’t happen in Tuscaloosa.

We can speculate all day about why this season has come off the tracks. Is it lack of senior leadership? Is Scott Loeffler really that bad of an offensive coordinator? Are Auburn assistants more focused on recruiting than coaching? Would things be different if Kiehl Frazier had lived up to expectations?

Regardless of the answers, it all falls in the lap of one person: Eugene T. Chizik.

Not so long ago, coaches were given time to get things fixed. But with $3.5 million annual salaries, those days are gone. A family of four now pays more than $2,000 for season tickets in the upper deck. Cokes run $6 at the concession stand. Free parking areas around Jordan-Hare Stadium continue to shrink.

Auburn officials had no problem sticking it to fans after the 2010 national championship season. Now, rightfully so, fans are ready to stick it to this coaching staff and perhaps even Jay Jacobs.

With the colossal failure of the men’s basketball, baseball and now football program, it’s hard to justify kicking Chizik to the curb without sending Jacobs with him. As a friend of mine said Saturday afternoon, it’s time to burn the whole thing down and start over.

Rarely is starting over a good thing. In Auburn’s case, it may be the only solution. Never in my wildest dreams would have imagined writing that line two years ago.

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  1. hinkle.pilot hinkle.pilot says:

    I do agree that it is a redo. But what about the comments Pat Dye made that Chizik would not be fired? I appreciate mostly what Dye did for us, but he is part of the problem as well. My guess is that Dye does not want anyone that he can’t “control”.

  2. uglyjoe says:

    With this comment, I feel a little like Kevin Bacon’s character at the end of Animal House, when the parade went out-of-control…..”Stay Calm, Stay Calm”. Firing coaches in the middle of the year is a bad thing; we already figured that out, and it wouldn’t have the greatest effect on what’s left of our recruiting. Chizik is holding a bad hand after his second draw in five card draw, and while the hand sucks, he has a lot in the pot. Bad choice of comments this weekend, but he is probably trying to figure it out too. My suggestion would be to demote Loeffler to QB coach today, admit there was a mistake made, and either promote Luper to OC or figure out some way to run the offense by committee.

    No doubt there are changes in store after the end of the year. Who knows what they are, or what the rest of the season holds. I’m not smart enough to know if the AD is part of the equation. But win or lose, I think we have to play this hand, at least most of it, until the end of the year. After Alabama, if a house cleaning is in order, then so be it. Maybe there will be some better data between now and then. Until then, lets enjoy the season, or what’s left of it. At least every game will be exciting. At least we have a girl’s basketball tournement between Christmas and New Year’s to keep us busy. Check your local paper, something will be going on.

  3. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    If Jay Jacobs is allowed to remain and not just make the decision to fire Chizik or not but allowed to make the next hire then all is in vain. Show me one good hire that Jacobs has made. Show me one thing that makes you think that if a coaching change is made he is capable of finding a quality coach that can win championships in the SEC. Before anyone starts firing coaches a change must be made at AD. Many of us said Jacobs was the wrong person for the job when he was hired and many of us have said he was the wrong person for the job all through his tenure…… It’s time to realize this is true and change must start with removing Jacobs.

  4. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Two years ago, I said it would never happen. That the man had it together. That he had the right people with him to make the necessary adjustments. Unfortunately, that time has passed. The naysayers were right… he lasted just about as long as they said he would.

    I can tell you that I am hearing rumblings through friends that this is becoming a reality. I am not so sure about Jacobs. But the logic there is sound too.

    Again, I wonder who will AU get as AD? Auburn needs someone who can get things done. Who is a great judge of character. We need someone who can make AU competitive in every sport. I hate to say it but I am gonna… we need a young version of Mal Moore.

    Then, who will AU get to coach? Know of any BSC rated coaches searching for a job? Please don’t say Bobby Petrino. He is a total snake oil salesman. If he can’t get it done at Arkansas… what makes anyone think he can get it done at Auburn?

    Dark days ahead my friends.

    Say your prayers. We are going to need them.

    WDE (And Jay… it still means War Damn Eagle to me.)

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      Mal Moore clone? I’m not so sure. I remember when Bama had gone through a couple of head coaches that the cry was loud from the Ala nation to get rid of Mal Moore. Then Shula leaves and he hires Rich Rodriguez. But only after Richrod turns him down, he turned to Saban. Truth is, like in any business most of the time you don’t really know how a hire will turn out until they are given the job. You may have a good idea but you cannot read the future. Richrod later went to Michigan and failed. What if he had not turned Bama down, Mal Noore would not be the hero he is today after the fiasco of coaches that he hired: Mike Price, Mike Shula, and Rich Rodriguez.

      • AUwaterboy says:

        Add to that list Dennis Franchione who had one 10 win season and quit Moore and used Bama as a stepping stone (ha) to get the Texas A&M job. That really made Moore popular – (sarcasm font).

      • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

        Richie Rod was never going to make it at Michigan…they would never accept him. He is one hell of a coach…if he came to Auburn, I would be happy.

      • wde1988 wde1988 says:

        You can make that assertion for sure and you would be correct.

        But I ask you… how many National Championships has bama won were the man selected the coach?

        I am not a bama fan but I guess:

        2009

        2011

        2012 ??

        2013???

        2014????

        Two for sure! And how many more will they get??? PMT, your comment is noted. Sure, I guess you can say he got lucky and got Nick Saban…. but you can hide the fact that he got him. Right now he is the best coach in the conference and the Nation.

        Auburn is either going to have to commit to getting someone reputable or we might as well face some facts… we are going to be second or third tier in the SEC until we finally grow a pair. We don’t have to change our ethics…. but if we want to be “like” them in terms of winning, we got to get a coach that has credentials and is a proven entity.

        AU can win in the SEC. We know it. They know it. What we need is a coach who doesn’t get board or quits on the job or loses his way. Or all of the above.

        I hate to say this… but I agree with TOTM. Assuming nothing changes in our hiring philosophy I think he would be a damn fine hire.

        WDE

  5. poleaxAU says:

    This is spot on. Everyday Chiz is at the helm we fade deeper into college football obscurity. He is just not capable.

  6. Frank Drackman says:

    Don’t wanta sound like an old fart, but this is worse than 1980…
    even in 81′ with losses to Wake Forest(!) ,Miss State, and that future HOF QB Lee Hobby at least you knew
    thangs were changin.
    And I was a Chizik supporter from day 1, bla bla bla.
    Is Mahlzahn available? Or hate to say it, Tubs? Hell, how about PFD?(Pat Friggin Dye)
    And what was so wrong with the spread anyway? If we’re gonna go
    old school, just strap on some single bar facemasks and steal Tech’s
    wishbone playbook.
    And I know its crazy, but can you imagine Mason, McCalebb and Frazier in the bone’??
    Sink the Commodores!

    Frank

  7. CapnVegetto says:

    Well, it’s taken a blowout loss to Ole Miss and the snapping of their 16 game SEC losing streak at our expense to finally get the Chizik apologists to come around. I guess I’m happy about that, but I’m so sad that it has taken us falling this far to finally realize that changes need to be made.

    We finish the season first, then we fire Jacobs, Chizik, Loeffler, and evaluate the rest of the staff from there. I’m not convinced VanGorder should go, nor a lot of the assistants. Of course, a lot of that will be up to the new guy, but we have GOT to get rid of Jacobs, or he’ll just hire another loser because Pat Dye told him to.

    As far as who is out there, I don’t think that is an issue at all. We are not East Technical College for the Blind. We are Auburn. We’ve got Yella Fella, Bobby Lowder, and lots of $$$$$$. We can afford damn near anybody. Offer Bill Cowher tons of money, see if he bites. Jon Gruden? We could afford him. Either of those guys would make a Saban bound kid think twice and help recruiting a LOT. If that doesn’t work, we have enough money to lure anybody away from anywhere. What about Gary Patterson or Chris Petersen? Bobby Petrino is in the mix, too. Sure he’s a douche, but he’s a genius douche. My only concern is how much that would hurt recruiting.

    I’m sick of hearing about Chizik’s $7.5 million buyout. Who cares? Bobby Lowder uses $7.5 million to light his cigars with.

    There are several points that have to happen, though. We can recover from this, and I don’t think it’s going to take as long as many think. Remember, we have TONS of talent on this team, with the exception of QB. We just need some coaching. But it is time to fire Chizik for gross incompetence. I guess that 5-19 record at Iowa State that so many chose to ignore actually meant something.

    Like Jay said, it’s time to burn it down and start over. This year was Chizik’s last chance, in my view, to prove that he can coach. He has failed miserably.

    Like The Donald said……YOU’RE FIRED.

    • Todd92 Todd92 says:

      I think Lowders bankroll is a lot smaller than what you envision these days and he no longer wields the power he once did (thank god). And you got part of it right…… Fire Jacobs and hire a real AD qualified to lead AU and hire and fire coaches!

    • Frank Drackman says:

      Gruden, I like it.
      Or that USF coach who beat us in 07′

  8. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    I’m sure that I’m in the minority when I say that Chizik will be back next year. Yeah, somebody’s head will roll but not so sure it will be CGC… I think his biggest mistake was bringing in an offensive system that was so different than the one you recruited with Malzahn. Most defensive minded OC make similar mistakes. Get rid of Loeffler and hire a Malzahn disciple for pennies on the dollar and run the offense that we have personnel for… That or release Frazier to transfer to Ark St where he belongs. It’s not the poor kids fault.

    I know I will get chastised for this next comment but it needs to be said from a fan who lives in Georgia and couldn’t afford out of state taxes to attend college on the Plaines. I am a diehard fan who budgets our income to go to games each year so please don’t question my fan hood. Please remember that Auburn is basically Virginia, GT and/or Vanderbilt… We are not VT, UGA, bama or UT… We don’t carry the states fan base, never have, never will and to be honest, that is the reason I chose to follow Auburn when I was a lad. I like being the underdog. And we don’t have to worry about our fans poisoning UGA. So let’s quit acting like bama fans – overly passionate and illogical.

    We had lightning in a bottle with Malzahn, Cam, O line and our defense in 2010. That being said, we didn’t even dominate that year. Remember how many games we had to come from behind. We could have easily not been bowl eligible in the same year we won the NCG. So let’s calm down and play our role. Yes, Auburn should expect and mandate excellence from our coaches, players, cheerleaders, band members and fans – top to bottom. Yes, we should expect to lead the West and have the opportunity to win the SEC and play in BCS bowl games. And yes, some serious conversations need to be had and Chizik’s feet need to be held to the fire and he needs to either lead us out of mediocrity or step down.

    I know you will say, “Well if 2010 would have gone differently as was possible, then that would make 4 mediocre seasons”… But 2010 didn’t go that way and you can’t remove your head coach two years removed from an undefeated national title season. We even waited 4 years after Tommy’s undefeated non national title season… Just relax a little bit, that’s all I’m saying. We’ve been here before.

  9. LSU Jonno says:

    What I would do if I had absolute power over the situation:

    1) Fire Jay Jacobs and hire a new AD. Let the new AD approach the issues that the football program has with a fresh perspective.

    2) I’d keep Chizik for the 2013 football season. I think after the 2010 season he’s earned another year. The offensive line will be so much better next season that improvement on that side of the ball is immanent. Year two under BVG’s defense will likely be much better, and if the offense can hold time of possession better, the defense will see even further improvement.

    3) Let the new AD and Chizik decide what to do about the offensive coordinator. The AD will have to set a goal for W’s in 2013. Chizik and the AD collectively will need to decide if Loeffler gives them a real shot at attaining that goal. I think Chizik knows if the majority of the problems lie with the young personnel on the field or the OC.

    4) Let Chizik know that this plan isn’t written in stone and that all bets are off if ticket sales drop dramatically. Ticket sales are priority #1, and if the school starts losing money, they’ll be forced to go a different direction. This probably goes without saying, but there it is anyway.

    The reason I’d hang on to Chizik for another year, is simply that I wouldn’t want to be searching for a new coach right now. And there are several reasons for that.

    1) The competition is tight this year…Arkansas has a year head start on their coaching search, UK will likely be looking for a new coach as well, and possibly even Tennessee. That is a lot of coaching competition to sort through with some decently big name schools just in our own conference.

    2) If we are talking about making an AD change, is that really something you want the new AD to have to do after being in the job for less than a month? It seems like the new AD would need a chance to evaluate the program to get the right fit.

    3) If Auburn stays with Jacobs for another year, do we really want Jacobs in charge of another football hire?

    I think all of those things are working in Chizik’s favor to keep him on another year. The worst thing Auburn can do is to fire Chizik and not get an upgrade at the HC position. I think if Chizik get’s fired after this year, that it is likely that we won’t get an upgrade.

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      I actually agree. We might have to endure Chizik one more year to get a new AD in the door. Ultimately, I don’t think a head coach change will do any good, if JJ is still at the helm. The decisions that Auburn makes once those final seconds expire at the end of the Iron Bowl could seriously impact the next few years of Auburn Football. If we want to continue circling the drain, all we have to do is keep pulling the knee jerk trigger. These decisions need to be calculated…a new AD is prudent.

    • Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

      Good perspective from an outsider’s view…

    • Todd92 Todd92 says:

      Very well said and perfectly logical. This would be the ideal path for me, all things considered.

  10. MyAuburn myauburn says:

    I have been following AU football for 50+ years and I can’t remember when we were an underdog to Vandy, not to mention the early line is 8 points. 8 POINTS and it is Vandy for heavens sakes. My manager said he was going to hide my shoelaces and belt if we lose to Alabama A&M and actually it would not surprise me.

    I am on board with a whole new team at the helm starting with JJ. This season has already gone down the drain except waiting for the final flush.

    I am still an Auburn man and will always will be but sometimes you have to fire some people to turn things around.

    WDE

  11. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..It’s really an unprecedented situation. I don’t think even 1980 compares. We took that 42-0 beating from Tennessee, but the rest of our SEC losses were a lot closer. 21-17 to LSU in Baton Rouge (had the ball on their 10 late), 24-21 to Mississippi State in Jackson, 21-10 to Florida in Gainesville, 31-21 to Georgia at home, and 34-18 to Alabama in Birmingham. And UGA and Bama shared the SEC title that year.

    ……The 1980 squad won all five of their non-conference games. This year’s team is getting blown out by the likes of Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

  12. kjl131313 says:

    I think it is interesting that Philip Marshal is reporting that Chizik forced Malzahn to slow down his offense and change play calling basically and has been involved in play calling of Loeflers.

  13. aunotbama says:

    I was never in favor of Chizik but hey, no one at the university called me. I wanted Will Muschamp but probably never was an option. I actually played a little JV at auburn in ’75 and will tell you from experience in the locker room – it’s different from anything I have ever experienced. I came from a high school that lost only 2 regular season games in 4 years and I was not use to losing. I can’t speak about all the coaches but through my firends, their sons playing at au, alumni, etc. the intensity needed to produce consistant wins is rarely ever present. Auburn is a top tier Division 1 football program despite this years performance. They rank #17 with 718 wins out of 1163 (Bama is #10) for numbers of wins in Division 1. They have 110 wins just during the BCS era. They deserve and need a top tier head coach. This guy cannot coach. He was along for the ride in 2010. Consider this, AU won the NC with the 60th ranked defense in the country. That’s out of 120 guys. And he’s a defensive coach !! I’ve seen this process before at Auburn – Chizik will say “It’s youth, we will be better next year”; or “I need another DC or OC”; or “I’m seeing improvement”. The AD will but this, we will get 2 star recruits at best and away we go. Get rid of HC and AD.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..1975 was a tough year. We were picked in the top ten, as high as number one in some polls. Then we got beat by double digits by Memphis State in the opener. It was said that there were folks in the program pulling in different directions, that year.

  14. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Folks, I can tell you, when Rod Bramlet is upset (and you should have heard him on Saturday. Hell, I grew up listening to Jim Fyffe and I remember when Rod came on board. He was as big a homer as any. He never said anything negative. That has changed). Or read the paid sports sites where they are running articles insinuating change “might” be coming. Things are bad.

    I think this is a low water moment for the program. I don’t remember another season like this – EVER.

    Facts: a bowl game appearance is out of the question. Auburn is DEAD LAST in the conference.

    Did you get that last part? BEHIND KENTUCKY!

    The future is in queston. Even our recruiting is in question.

    I have said it before – and I will say it again: An evaluation needs to be completed by those “in charge” with the University. It needs to be done quickly and efficiently.

    The things the University needs to look at:

    An apple to apple comparision of what happens if you change the AD or Coaching staff – what would the impact be on the program be if you went out and got an equally priced coach and staff.

    Then look at the situation assuming no action was taken and CGC and his staff were allowed to stay. What would the impact be on the program be.

    This is how I think we have normally done business. And because that is our normal tactic when it comes to hiring and firing coachs, I suspect that LSU Junno is right IF there is no higher level intervention.

    That is why I think if things have changed in the behind the scenes leadership of our program, then maybe we will see something unprecedented here. Namely that the powers that be at Auburn finally come into the 21st century and fully embrace that the football program is a money generator (like our cousins up the road) and invests in a known quantity of a coach – maybe someone from the NFL.

    By doing nothing, we are assuming some pretty big risks. I say risks considering I am looking for future gains with some of the recruits we supposedly have on a string. But all it will take is one of the big name recruits to break ranks… and this class will be toast. 6 weeks ago, we all thought this class was going to be a top 3 class. Does anyone else remember that too? And now??? Regardless, the results of this season will be something that will negatively impact our program for years. Any gains we have had will be lost. AU might as well get used to this position for awhile unless we see some drastic measures that quickly demonstrate results.

    WDE

  15. uglyjoe says:

    I have been stewing on this all day, and I’m late to my daughter’s volleyball game so I don’t have much time to refine this argument, but here it goes anyway….

    About eight weeks ago, I was singing Chizik’s praises like you wouldn’t believe. As a matter of fact, I sent him an email to that effect. I was sure we had the right coach at the right time….I think I even said something to that effect in a comment to a post here on TET. I’m an emotional guy and I’m the kind of guy that very much appreciates the values that Coach Chizik brings to the table. I’M NOT CHANGING THAT….maybe we do need a new AD. We sure as heck screwed up with the choice of an OC, and why we aren’t doing any better is a mystery with a whole bunch of potential answers. But I’m standing behind Chizik. I am in his corner. I won’t argue it, everybody is entitled to their opinion, and I respect it. But he is my coach, and until something more radical than losing more games in 2012 comes to light, I want him back in 2013. Call me a homer and an idiot and anything else you want.

    War Eagle

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      People shouldn’t think ill of you Joe just because you don’t go along with what may seem a popular opinion.

      Besides we don’t really know how many people feel the same way you do because statistically folks who are most upset are more likely to express themselves in a public forum. You just happen to be man enough to say waht you think. For that, I applaud you.

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      Personally, I would never call you an idiot…feel like I’ve ‘known’ you too long….

  16. AUdacious_Dude says:

    Been an AU fan since the early 80′s. Here’s what I would do if I were magically promoted to president of AU tomorrow:

    1) Tell CGC thanks, but it’s time to move on. You can resign or be fired. Your choice. If you don’t resign, then call up your lawyers and let’s get this buy-out thing moving.

    2) Tell the same to JJ. Resign or be fired.

    3) Call Pat Dye and tell him to step back (though I don’t think Dye is as big an influence as people think).

    4) Promote BVG to interim HC. Tell him if he can pull out some wins, he will be guaranteed an interview spot at the end of the season. He is free to fire any current staff he chooses or rearrange responsibility as he sees fit. I have a lot of confidence in BVG — he has been around the block and has been in the most competitive league in football (NFL). He is used to coaching carousels.

    5) While the rest of the season is going on, be on the phone with potential AD prospects. Consult experts, consultants, etc. Basically get all the help with the search possible.

    6) Hopefully by December or early Jan. I would be close to naming the new AD.

    7) Let the AD evaluate the situation and tell him to get the coach that will produce the best results ON the field while keeping issues OFF the field to a bare minimum. That’s the only stipulation I have — I don’t care about their religion or any of that mess. I only want results on the field and someone who can control the kids. I want the coach to be a law abiding citizen, of course, but I don’t require him to be a choir boy.

    8) Give BVG a fair shot. If the AD doesn’t want to go that route, try and find a HC who is fine with BVG staying on as DC (shouldn’t be hard as BVG is a great coach, imo). Interestingly, Petrino has a history with BVG, so I don’t think Petrino would have a problem with him staying on.

    Names I would like to see have a shot at an interview:

    1) Petrino
    2) Strong
    3) BVG (if he holds his end of the bargain and improves the team)
    4) Malzahn

    People who I would like but I think will never come:

    1) Patterson
    2) Smart
    3) Del Rio
    4) Chip Kelly (he wont leave ND, get real)
    5) Gruden (Love to have him, he is an insane workaholic, but he is an NFL guy).

    People I have no interest in:

    1) Fisher
    2) Holgorsen (something about him doesn’t sit right with me).
    3) Spurrier (5 years ago, definitely, now, he’s too old).
    4) Mullen (Hell no. Can’t stand that hunchback).
    5) Cutcliffe (Good coach but too old and too much baggage).
    6) Freeze (Malzahn disciple, but he hasn’t done enough yet to prove himself, imo).

  17. SandMountainTiger SandMountainTiger says:

    I haven’t commented in a while, but here it goes.

    I first logged on to TET when Tubbs was fired, just to see if as many people were outraged as I was, then to follow the the coaching search. I found a lot of level-headed arguments and was drawn to the site like a moth to the flame. I didn’t know what to think about Chizik’s hire, but figured I’d just ride it out and see what happened.

    Growing up an AU fan has definitely had it’s high and low moments. I always laughed at Bammers that screamed for the coach’s head whenever they lost a game or two, knocking them out of the NC race that year. “Jeez,” I thought, “These guys actually think they’re supposed to win a NC every year. All I want is one!” Well, Coach Chizik got me what I wanted: one.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we are not bammers. I mean that both positively and negatively. I do not reasonably expect my team of choice to compete for a National Championship every single year. There have been years in the past when we have came within a few votes of the Holy Grail, only to have it snatched away at the last second. There have been years when we hung our heads after high expectations were not met. People called for Tubbs’ head in 2003. The 2004 team is still one of my favorites.

    I’m sure I’m not the only poster on this site that has met coach Chizik in person. I found him very approachable and accommodating. I told him that the memory of him holding up that crystal ball and shouting “War Eagle” was something that I would remember my entire life, and I thanked him for it. The only thing he said back was “Well, we couldn’t have done it without you.” He said “you,” not “you all” or “you fans.” If I didn’t support him now, I would feel like I let him down.

    Maybe I’m a schmuck. Maybe he says that to everybody. Maybe I should be swept into this idea that we should be in the top 5 every year. Well, allow me my delusions. I support our coach, and will until HE decides it’s time to move on. He got me my one, and even though he doesn’t drink, he’d never have to buy his own in my presence.