Is it true? Are Auburn fans beginning to warm to Gene Chizik? Blame it on holiday cheer if you want, but since the hire of Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator, Auburn fans seem to be smiling a lot more these days.
Give Chizik credit. Unlike Jay Jacobs during the coaching search, Chizik has made all the right moves since being named coach on December 13th. He seems to understand the circumstances under which he was hired – something the Auburn administration has yet to grasp. He’s made few public comments and smartly allowed his actions to speak louder than his words.
Give him passing grades for his first few weeks on the job. In a town where every book store and T-shirt shop is selling “We love Tubs” shirts, Chizik is quietly going about the business of making this team better. Auburn people are starting to notice.
The next week should bring a lot more assistant coaching hires. The recruiting dead period ends this weekend and Auburn will need to be full force on the trail come Monday. Complicating the situation is that many of the coaches under consideration are just now finishing up bowl games. Needless to say, Chizik will be working this weekend.
A lot of fingers are pointing to South Carolina Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson as Auburn’s top target to run its defense. Ellis didn’t look too hot yesterday with Iowa rolling over his South Carolina unit 31-10.
Still, Ellis is highly regarded in coaching circles and Chizik has mentioned his name more than once to those close to the program. Prior to this season in Columbia, Ellis spent four years as coordinator at Miss State. It’s believed that Ellis has a buyout in his contract that Auburn would have to pay should they hire him. So far money has not been a factor for the program. Who says there’s a recession in the state of Alabama?
I send sympathies this morning to our Auburn friends in the Florence,Alabama area. It’s now official: Terry Bowden is back coaching in Alabama. He was officially named yesterday as North Alabama’s eighth head coach.
He inherits a team that’s no slouch.
The Lions have won no fewer than 10 games a year over the past four seasons. Bowden should be fine while still coaching with someone else’s players. No word on whether big brother Tommy will follow as offensive coordinator. Bowden says his goal is to win a national championship. “Here there’s only one level to go to and that’s a national championship,” said Bowden. “I’m excited about it. I’m thriving on it.”
Bowden said he was approached by the school while doing a North Alabama playoff radio broadcast for Westwood One. “Somebody handed me a note during the broadcast and said, ‘Would you be interested?’” Bowden said. “I wrote a note back on the piece of paper saying, ‘Call me if you want to talk to me.’”