Watching Auburn Coach Gene Chizik on stage at SEC Media Days last week brought back memories of Philosophy 101 at the Haley Center back in the 1980s. At times it was plain mind-numbing. Going from Tommy Tuberville to Chizik is like trading Jay Leno for Maury Povich. And let’s face it; Tuberville was no laugh a minute.
There was no need for a laugh track Friday morning on stage at the Wynfrey Hotel. That would come later when Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin took the stage. Just looking at Kiffin induces laughter these days.
Listening to the first year Auburn coach you would think he was an unpopular choice among fans; a man that’s inheriting a team with no proven quarterback or receivers who can catch the ball. What’s up with that?
Doesn’t he know that today’s new coaches go on the offensive immediately, guaranteeing victories over defending national champions who return 11 starters on defense and a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback? The talent level of your team is inconsequential.
If you are going to be heard in the SEC you must learn to quickly overload your backside while the cameras are rolling. In return, you get numerous mentions in national publications like Sports Illustrated and become feature stories on ESPN SportsCenter.
Come on Gene. It’s time to get with the program.
I was a guest on a radio show Friday night following the day’s SEC events and was asked how Auburn fans would react to a coach like Kiffin. Truthfully, I can’t imagine it. It’s just not Auburn. It’s not what Auburn people are about. Give Chizik credit. He’s handled this shotgun marriage far better than most of could under the circumstances.
Chizik gives the impression of a man who’d rather have dinner with Tuberville than crack a smile in public. He may not be your first choice to have beers and cigars with, but this quiet intensity of his is intriguing. Remember he was a pretty good defensive coach before he lost his mind and abilities in Ames, Iowa for two years.
On stage Friday he struck just the right tones and brushed back questions about his low key approach. “I’ve got three children and my wife,” said Chizik. “I get plenty of attention when I go home. What gets you attention is when you win. It’s that simple. I don’t have to go out and gather attention for myself. It’s not about me. It’s about Auburn.”
Terry Bowden he ain’t.
Thankfully, all the criticisms and kudos thrown Chizik’s way since his hire will soon be water under the bridge. Style points are about to be replaced by points on the scoreboard. Auburn’s new man will quickly learn that wins make you look better and sound smarter.
Thank goodness football season is almost here.