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A Big Name Coach Doesn’t Guarantee Success

By on December 4th, 2012 in Football 37 Comments »

Letdown. That’s the word trending across message boards and Twitter accounts in relation to the Auburn coaching search. With Jimbo Fisher, Bob Stoops, Jim Mora Jr. and other big name coaches seemingly bowing out of the Auburn search, fans are flooding social media sites expressing their disappointment in what they perceive as a lack of marquee coaching candidates.

In reality, only a handful of people have a clue what’s actually taking place behind closed doors. What we know continues to be limited. It’s believed that Arkansas St. coach Gus Malzahn, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris have interviewed.

It’s also widely assumed that Auburn is taking aim at TCU coach Gary Patterson and will at some point, interview former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. If there’s anyone else in the mix, they’ve escaped the spotlight.

Will Auburn people welcome a proven coordinator or a successful coach from a smaller program?

They should…

A big name may buy you headlines for a day, but it doesn’t guarantee you victories in the fall. History says lesser known candidates often succeed at the same rate as older, proven coaches.

Who was Bob Stoops when he left Florida for Oklahoma? See Kirby Smart. Who would have promoted Chip Kelly up at Oregon? What about Charlie Strong at Louisville? He couldn’t buy a head coaching job for years.

How about Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M? Houston was a nice story last season, but conventional wisdom said the SEC was a different ball game. Let’s not forget about the guy in Athens who came from FSU as an assistant. He came up four yards short of a national title appearance on Saturday.

Pat Dye came from Wyoming. Shug Jordan was an assistant coach before landing the Auburn gig.

The list is as long as you want it to be…

Will I be disappointed if it’s not a big name? No way. I’ll be upset if it’s not the right fit. That’s what matter most to Auburn. Fans can’t get caught up in competing with Saban, Richt and Miles. Auburn has its own issues to deal with first.

It needs a leader who can bring the family together, get control of a talented group of kids and focus on putting the program back together. Everything else is just noise.

Chances are good that we’ll know by sundown who’ll be walking the Auburn sidelines next fall. Let’s not get caught up in the headlines and what our rivals say; instead ask yourself if it’s the right choice for Auburn.

That’s all that matters.


  1. James James says:

    Sad to see Jimbo Fisher’s name falling off. I wasn’t too impressed with Bob Stoops or Jim Mora Jr. anyways. Bob Stoops has always had a knack for blowing big games. As we all know we play the biggest game in all of football (haha) every year!

    High profile assistant coaches have done really well in the recent past. I am still very very on the Kirby Smart train. Pleaseeeeeeeeee pull the trigger on Smart!!!!!!!!!!

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      We need a coach that undderstands Auburn, and understands our rivalries, and that can recruit. Despite his lack head coaching experience, Kirby Smart is percolating to the top of my list.

  2. wilderr wilderr says:

    ONE HUGE REASON why any coach would want to coach at Auburn or in the SEC
    Because if you are in the SEC, you can get to the title game with a loss and without a conference crown.

    Ex. Oregon(made it when they went undefeated; but blew it this year with a loss)
    Ex. Kansas State this year (had to go undefeated and didn’t)
    Ex. Oklahoma State last year(see Kansas State above)

    When was the last time some team other than the SEC made it to the championship game with one loss?

    • sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

      “What’s that? Championships? Don’t talk about — Championships?! You kidding me?! Championships?! I just hope we can win a game! Another game!”

      Sorry, I saw the name Jim Mora and overreacted.

  3. restless6 says:

    Get SMART.

  4. War Eagle 2000 says:

    “Playoffs….Playoffs….you think this team is going to the playoffs!” Jim Mora

    when a press conference is so memorable that it’s turned into a Coors Light commercial you know you’ve witnessed an epic meltdown.

    Smart + Bobo as OC – calling my shot

  5. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Jim Mora Jr. and Mike Gundy are the only ones that I know that have bowed out. Further, I am hearing that Fisher isn’t going anywhere and will remain at FSU (probably with a raise). The other Fisher (Jeff) has also pretty much been taken off the big board.

    As far as I know, everyone else is in play.

    The rumblings from the Petrino following is because he hasn’t been interviewed yet and someone gave him the impression that he was the front runner. I can only imagine that he put out feelers and had his own PR folks stoking the fires of discontent yesterday. Ultimately, I think he will get his interview. I just think he has too many liabilities.

    AU needs proven. I don’t care if it is a up and coming (but very experienced) coordinator or a known entity as a coach (even Petrino Capt V).

    As others have said… this committee had a daunting task. Chizik left Auburn in a pickle. I believe it will take some time to get it right guy. Consequently I am amazed at the numbers people give when thinking they can get a task accomplished by. It just proves they truly don’t know what they are talking about. I hope that once this is completed… that AU fires the coordinator and replaces him with someone that is experienced. Someone that this coach will want to work for and make AU an attractive place to be.

    I also hope the selection is someone that AU can grow with. I am growing tired of flash in the pans that go way too far in our resources before we realize that we got the wrong man.

    Don’t lose faith. AU will get it right!

    War Eagle!

    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      By the way… who says Bob Stoops is out of the picture?

      I’d say unless you have heard it from him directly… he is in play.

      1) He has never won the big game at OK (but he has gotten them there several times)
      2) This year he isn’t even the BCS game… at all. He got pushed out by NIU.
      3) He has been at OK for a while. I would imagine he is ready for a change…
      4) The primary conference is the SEC (going on year 7 in making a bid for the championship)
      5) Unlike Arkansas and Tennessee and Kentucky it would be hard to argue that AU can’t get to the big game since it did so in 2010. All you need is the right mix of players. BL: AU is relevant! But can he say the same at OK?


      • KoolBell KoolBell says:

        You guys do know that Bob Stoops has won a MNC title right? He has taken the Sooners to 3 of those games and won one of them.
        The other consideration is that AU and the entire SEC is very stable, something the Big 12 can’t say with honesty.

        • wde1988 wde1988 says:

          When was that KB? Obviously I have forgotten about when the last time OK was relevant.


          • KoolBell KoolBell says:

            Won it all in 2000 vs. FSU, and 04 and 05 was in the game. The 04 game was vs. LSU the 05 game vs. USC

          • Jumpn Jack Flash says:

            Oklahoma also lost to Florida in the ’08 championship game. So actually Stoops has been to the title game 4 times.

          • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

            Man I would love to see Stoops at Auburn. But I can’t see guys already successful in a big time program leaving their present gig.

    • msprink says:

      Man do I ever agree!!!!

  6. almightytmc1 says:

    Jay, this article is spot on. name alone wont do it. It has to be the personality and the toughness that make the next coach a winner or a loser.
    Willie Taggart.

  7. tigertracker says:

    Kirby probably knows where too many bodies are buried to be allowed to leave tuscaloosa. Wasn’t Pease (the OC at florida) an OC at boise for several years prior to taking the UF job? I believe this is his first year at florida but I’d say he might fall into the “experienced and winning record” category.

  8. almightytmc1 says:

    Guy has a great personality, He makes freinds quickly. And on that alone he should do well on the recruiting trail with the Auburn brand. . And his teams dont make a lot of fundamental mistakes.

  9. restless6 says:

    Willie Taggart. ROFLMAO.

  10. Malakai Malakai says:

    I seem to be the only one who doesn’t want Smart at Auburn. Saban you can keep your cast-offs thank you very much! Now stop playing around and go on and hire Petrino. I don’t care where he spends his nights or who he spends them with. I want a proven winner, and the only one left on the list is him.

  11. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Well – its obvious we are a divided and dysfunctional family.

    But here is some news of AU at work. I see it as positive.

    Hire the man!


  12. TexasAUTiger TexasAUTiger says:

    GARY PATTERSON! Make him an offer he can’t refuse. Also, it’s Sumlin, not Sumerlin.

  13. CapnVegetto says:

    Good God. Willie Taggert? I’m seeing why Auburn made such a bad hire in Chizik……because apparently the decision makers think like the people on this site.

    Bobby Petrino is still number 1. Patterson is number 2. Malzhan is 2a in my book.

    Smart is a VERY distant 4th. Clemson’s OC is behind him.

    I do know this. Watch where Auburn’s jets go. I know for a fact they have been to Tallassee, AL, Jonesboro, AR, Ft. Worth, TX, and get this……BOISE, ID. Don’t count Chris Petersen out, I KNOW the plane has been there, so they have at least talked to him.

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      According to WJOX, Petrino got his 30 minutes with the Committee…….seriously, let it go, man. Let it go.

  14. mokey says:

    …and on and on and on we go…will someone please tell me when this is going to stop !

  15. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    “The game doesn’t always go to the stronger or faster man,
    But sooner of later, the man who wins, is the on who thinks he can.” Author unknown

    Auburn needs a coach who can teach these talented kids how to win again. I hope The Committee can find that coach with God speed.

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

  16. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    I am ready for the announcement so that Auburn can begin to rebuild this team. The new coach will need to evaluate the current players and find out who can play in the SEC. I am already looking forward to the A Day game.

    I am hoping for Kirby Smart. He would bring in a good support staff and help Auburn keep this recruiting class.

  17. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Couldn’t agree more Jay.

    For those screaming for Petrino, I just don’t see him as a strong recruiter, and again, he would be tethered. Sure he’s a great coach when he’s able to do whatever he wants. But those days are gone. I don’t want a Tiger Woods as a head coach.

    Kirby Smart would be great. I would be slightly happier with Patterson. I don’t know much about Chad Morris. If Charlie Strong goes anywhere, it will likely be Tennessee…..

  18. mikeautiger says:

    Good article that states the facts. Any of these choices will be great for Auburn, except Patrino because of baggage. No need for disappointm

  19. jeffinbham jeffinbham says:

    Great article. I do not want to see Petrino at Auburn, because I just don’t believe that he is the right man for the job (character issues, not a good recruiter, soft on defense, etc.). However, I am expecting to be disappointed by whomever they hire because Jay Jacobs is still the AD. I was hoping that he would get fired as well, but that obviously is not going to happen. I will support whoever is hired, though. WDE

  20. restless6 says:

    Auburn Undercover is reporting no offer to Kirby and Gus likely.

    If its Gus, I’m done. I hate the spread. It’s tough on the defense for both teams

    The spread is a gimmick predicated on a stud QB. If this is the best Auburn can do, then they will become Ole Miss and irrelevant in the SEC.

  21. WarEagleBattleCry says:

    Great blog! First time commenter here. Ray Glier author of ‘How the SEC Became Goliath’ was interviewed this past Friday on Chuck and Chernoff of 680 the Fan. Didn’t catch the whole interview but the last question by Matt to Ray was about the coaching vacancies in the SEC and Ray’s thoughts. Ray said that the Auburn job is a great job. “All the he (Auburn coach) has to do is walk into the administration and say he needs to compete with Nick Saban and needs this, this and this to do so and he will get it.” Also, said, “Auburn has a great recruiting base, better than Tennessee, that’s why it is a better job.” His comments made me feel a lot better!!

    Also, I do not want Auburn to hire Petrino. We will become the laughing stock of college football if that happens!! Have several Dawg friends say that they feel sorry for Auburn and cannot believe we would even consider hiring Petrino. No need to feel sorry for us is what I say!! Auburn will be back!!

  22. mokey says:

    Totally agree with Restless6 on Gus…this is not a defense friendly offense…IMHO they do not compliment one another at all !!

    If Gus is the best we can do with our resources then our perception is worse than I ever thought and I do mean our internal functioning…very sad.