If you learned anything in world politics this year, it’s that wholesale change in a nation’s foundation can come in as quickly as the seasons. On Track Em Tigers, we’ll never be accused of talking about deep subjects like world leadership changes or anything else that’s life or death–no, our discussions have far deeper ramifications for most of us. I think for the Auburn family now, the winds of change are about to blow in at full gale force.
I think often times coaching staffs can be victims of their own success. Bring a group in some place and win where they seldom do and eventually the pressure is on to win more conference championships or to win a national one. And when those don’t materialize, before you know it, they’re shuffled out the door for a new crew who goes on to face-plant in comparison to the previous administration. Sometimes the new guys do get over the hump, but then there’s the ever-present incessant demand and desire to win even more.
With last year’s national championship, I think few Auburn fans thought that we would be building a dynasty starting in 2011 that would rival any seen in SEC history. Look at the neighborhood we live in. With four different teams from the conference and three from our own division winning four out of the last five national titles, we knew the landscape that we faced and that continued success would be hard-won. To quote EDSBS’s Spencer Hall, you can’t walk out on your back deck in the SEC west and not get into a freaking fistfight.
With LSU and Alabama cued up to make a BCS run in 2011 and with Arkansas on the rise, we knew everything would be a struggle this year, especially with a young team and no Cam Newton. Preseason, I thought to myself we’d be 8-4 or 9-3 at best. No rational Auburn fan thought a trip to the BCS CG or even to Atlanta was in the cards for us this year, but that we’d merely contend in the west and compete in our rivalry games. None of that was to be true.
Losing five regular season games ordinarily isn’t a big deal, but getting blown out in four (FIVE by my standards) games against your biggest rivals is something that most bottom-dweller teams seldom do, much less the defending national champions. That phrase, defending national champions, it can’t expire soon enough. It’s almost a sad joke now. Never in CFB history have any champs so thoroughly failed to compete the next year.
And that’s all we fans ask them to do–not win it all every year, but merely compete, and this team sadly did not–especially in the rivalry games that count the most. Who’s at fault? There’s plenty of blame to go around. I’m certain that this team quit on us around the first quarter of the Georgia game and we’re not going to see them the rest of this season. There are many reasons why they probably quit, but the net effect is the same. Playing a bowl game at this point is basically worthless and an effort in futility–save for the paycheck. We’ll probably just phone in our appearance anyway. Maybe they can direct deposit the check.
Then come the coaches. It’s house-cleaning time. Chizik deserves a chance to right his ship but make no mistake, major surgery is warranted. Ted Roof should be gone by week’s end. I bear Roof no ill will but his system just didn’t work out. We believe in defense at Auburn and having his unit consistently ranked in the bottom of the NCAA in every major category is not acceptable. Don’t tell me it’s the talent. I’m tired of the excuses. It’s time for us to move on–immediately. Write the check and let’s poach someone else’s DC for a change. We should have some clout and a little money left. I would hope.
Gus Malzahn, I’m not sure where you’ve been this year but I think I want our money back. Maybe your head was still in Nashville, dreaming of three mil a year, or more likely, thinking about boot-strapping to your next gig. Either way, your mind obviously wasn’t on your tutelage of Auburn’s offense, who have regressed back to a mediochre high school level. One of two things has happened to you: you’ve lost your edge to compete with the big boys or everyone’s figured out your stuff. Either way, it’s no good for us anymore. It’s time for you to move on. Your big-mouthed wife can begin her shopping adventures in the outlet mills of the North Carolina foothills just in time for Christmas. Again, Jay Jacobs, get the checkbook out. Get us someone that wants to be here.
In the results-driven world that is college football, we were no longer getting the results we wanted out of our two biggest assistants. While some Auburn fans may think it disloyal to want to fire such highly ranked coaches they can’t say that we have haven’t given them every benefit of the doubt and every ounce of patience we could muster. It’s time. Gene Chizik must now man up and make the tough decision to fire his boys. It won’t be easy but that’s why we pay him the big bucks–for the results.
Chizik can decide which of the other assistants to keep and which should go. He knows which guys will fit in under him or not. There’s plenty of good coaches out there looking for a new gig–many fresh off head coaching jobs. Just this week, Turner Gill, Auburn’s ‘almost’ coach got fired after two seasons at Kansas. Ron Zook is out after seven seasons at Illinois. Dennis Erickson is out at Arizona State and probably out to pasture. I’m not saying grab the biggest name you can, just grab the best you can. In the ever-rising stakes of college football, there’s always good guys that are looking for a fresh start.
And I’ll be looking forward to our fresh start next year–at the Auburn Spring practice. But first we’ll need to do a little spring cleaning.