Well, it’s official. Auburn is now coachless once again. Most know that I have been very vocal on here all of last year and this year of my extreme dislike of Gene Chizik. Make no mistake about it, his firing is a good thing. The program had been sliding backwards ever since he showed up, with the exception of 2010, despite all the highly touted recruiting classes. Once Malzhan and Cam Newton left, it was indeed proven that the guy at the airport was right, as was his 5-19 head coaching record at Iowa State. Chizik is just a straight up bad football coach.
That being said, that does not mean he does not deserve some praise. First and foremost, despite the fact that Chizik is a lousy football coach, he is a good man. There is no doubt about this. There was a reason that so many highly touted kids came to Auburn. It was Chizik’s ability to make them and their parents feel like they could trust him. He was good at that. I also honestly believe that, despite the results on the field and the numerous discipline problems in the offseason, Chizik never stopped trying to do the right thing. Of course, he had some really bad ideas, (such as the no-matter-what-4-year-scholarship thing), and was very wrong in not giving these kids a bit more structure and discipline, but he honestly believed he was doing the right thing and was honestly trying to do well for the kids. For that I commend him.
It is pretty much a consensus among the Auburn faithful that Gene Chizik is a good man, and in that respect he did the university proud. For that, I thank him, and wish him the very best in the future.
But, as most everyone agreed, it was time for him to go. Despite the fact that he was a man of the highest character, he really sucked at his job as a football coach and was absolutely not suited to head a major college football program. So, he’s been sacked, and now the questions of who is going to replace him begin. There are quite a few names out there, some far more likely than others. I’ve got them divided up and will give my opinion on each, as well as what I’ve been hearing from my sources both in real life and in the blogosphere.
1. BOBBY PETRINO
In my opinion, this is the guy we are most likely going to get, for a multitude of reasons. First, he’s the biggest name we’re going to be able to get right now. Auburn needs a proven, tested winner to compete with Satan and the turds, and Petrino would definitely fit that bill. It’s also been rumored that the Auburn job is the job that Petrino covets most, and there has been a contingent of bigwig boo$ters that have wanted Petrino ever since Jetgate. There will never be a better chance to get him. Also, despite whatever questions there are about his character, there is no doubt whatsoever that he is not only the best playcaller in college football, he is quite simply one of the best offensive minds out there. Auburn needs a good offensive coach, in my opinion. Our greatest success offensively was with Gus Malzhan running the show, and Petrino is arguably even a better mind than Malzhan. Petrino’s lack of character and troubles in the past give rise to the final reason that I think he’ll most likely be our next coach: we can get him cheap. His contract will have a modest salary compared to what he had been making, little to no buyout, and will be rife with good behavior clauses. We’ll be getting a top tier coach for a relatively low salary, thanks to his past troubles. That’ll help absorb the $11 million plus it is costing the university to fire the current staff. For all these reasons, Petrino makes the most sense. I know a lot of people won’t like it, but I’d bet he’s going to be it.
2. GUS MALZHAN
Malzhan is number 2 behind Petrino simply because of money. He’s going to cost more to get, can demand more in salary, and will cost more to get rid of. Coaching wise, though, I would be quite happy with Gus. He has SEC experience, ties to Auburn, and we all know his offensive coaching prowess, (when he doesn’t have a head coach like Chizik all up in his business). He’s winning and looking good at Arkansas State right now, and has proven that he can, in fact, be a successful head coach. It remains to be seen how well he would do in the SEC, but he’s been there before, and his offensive coaching and playcalling led Auburn to the highest numbers in its history. The only potential problems with Malzhan are financial, as I said earlier. We can get Petrino cheaper, and sign him to a contract that is much more favorable to the university, whereas Malzhan will not only cost more, we might have to compete with Arkansas for his services. All that being said, though, I would be quite happy with him as a hire.
3. JIMBO FISHER (outside chance)
I don’t think Fisher is going to leave FSU, even though there is a vocal group in the good ol’ boys club that wants him. Fisher is not a bad coach, but I think he’d be Tuberville 2.o. The biggest problem I had with Tubs is that his teams would come out some weeks looking like world beaters, and then come out some weeks looking like Troy. Jimbo is the same way. Just like Tubs, it seems like there are always 1 or 2 games a year where his teams just look like complete crap, no matter how good they are. Tubs always seemed to lose 1 or 2 games he never should have lost every year, despite getting some big wins against teams that were clearly better than Auburn, and Jimbo looks the same way. FSU was a much better team than Florida this weekend, but for some reason, FSU’s offense decided not to show up. That is purely the fault of the coaches, namely Jimbo. He’d be an upgrade from Chizik, no doubt, but I’d much rather have Petrino or Malzhan than him.
UNLIKELY CANDIDATES AND LONGSHOTS
1. CHARLIE STRONG
He wouldn’t be that bad, but we won’t get him. His name is popping up in our search lists, and Louisville has already publicly stated that they are going to do whatever it takes to keep him. They have the money to do it, too. I don’t think we are going to get into a bidding war with anybody after spending $11 million bucks firing the last guys. Of the unlikely guys, Strong would be my first choice. I’d rather have him than Jimbo Fisher, but I wouldn’t take him over Malzhan or Petrino.
2. KIRBY SMART
The fact that this is Pat Dye’s choice is reason enough to say hell no, but there are more. Kirby Smart is unproven as a head coach, and even with all the turds’ talent, I question his ability. I’d also say this to you: Name ONE Nick Saban assistant that has gone on to be a successful head coach. Jimbo Fisher comes to mind, but his career success remains to be seen, plus Jimbo was an assistant at Auburn before he went to LSU to be with Satan. Once again, Pat Dye needs to shut the hell up and go away. His idiocy has cost this program so much since his retirement. I sure hope history doesn’t repeat itself yet again.
3. JEFF FISHER
Keep dreaming kids, this ain’t gonna happen. There is no way in hell that he would leave an NFL job to become the head coach of the embattled Auburn program. He’s cost upwards of 8 to 9 million a year, with a super favorable to him contract, and I’d imagine the good ol’ boys club knows they would have ZERO control over him, and they won’t like that. This rumor is surfacing because his son is a sophomore on the team, and his daughter also attends the university, and he spends a lot of time around Auburn when it’s not football season, but I’m telling you, this ain’t gonna happen. I’d give it a 1 in 1000 chance.
I’m sure there are other names that people have been throwing around, but these are the main ones. However, judging from Chizik’s demeanor, I think he’s known he was getting the boot for weeks now. If that is the case, I’m also willing to bet that the university already knows exactly who they want. Oh sure, they’ll put on the dog and pony show of interviewing, searching, and saying the right things, but I think they already have their guy picked out, and I’d bet my next paycheck it’s Bobby Petrino, for all the reasons I listed above.
From what I’m reading and hearing, this is gonna happen fast, possibly within the week. I’m also hearing that Jay Jacobs’ days are numbered as well, and that he will have very little say on the hire. Gogue is making the ultimate decision, with input from both the ‘committee’ they are putting together, as well as various other bigwigs behind the scenes. The only reason Jacobs still has a job is the fact that they are not going to fire a state employee just a few months before he is eligible for his 25 year retirement. I hope that is true, because he needs to go even more than Chizik did.
It’s refreshing also that Tim Jackson has been ‘reassigned’ in his duties, and will no longer have ANYTHING to do with the football program. Depending on how much of this is rumor and how much is fact, so far things are looking good.
It’s going to be an interesting week or two coming up. I’m on the edge of my seat, and am hopeful that the right decisions will be made. Chzik’s firing was a good start, but we still have a long way to go. Let the house cleaning begin, and let’s hope that we don’t find any roaches.