Photo by Julie Bennett/al.com
Who would have dreamed that the most prominent coach ever hired by Auburn University would be its basketball coach? In a span of little more than a year, the athletic department has gone from employing Gene Chizik and Tony Barbee to Gus Malzahn and Bruce Pearl as its two marquee coaches.
George Jefferson would be proud.
It’s a shame Jay Jacobs won’t allow himself a few stiff drinks because if anyone has earned it, it’s the reinvigorated athletic director. Hell, I’d be running around tonight in my boxers with my tie around my head. Mike Tyson wouldn’t be able to knock the smile off my face.
Has anyone grown into a job better than Jacobs? Less than 18 months ago, Las Vegas wouldn’t have given you a line on his job security. Now you have to wonder whether there’s another one better.
One thing is certain. If Bruce Pearl can’t succeed at Auburn with a still new arena and an energized fan base, then it can’t be done. We’ll know soon enough. Past success never guarantees the future, but it’s hard to imagine this program not competing for championships soon.
When the wheels of Auburn’s plane touched down today, Tiger basketball became relevant again. There couldn’t be more of a contrast in Tuscaloosa. It’s hard to explain how an athletic department with its recent football national championships now suddenly looks worn and tired.
Trophies have been replaced by a whining football coach who suddenly looks and acts old; and its basketball program has officially been tossed out as just another athletic department expense that sucks away profits.
While Alabama fans spent early Tuesday talking about how cool it was that Vince Vaughn bought Lane Kiffin’s home in California, Jacobs punched Tide boss Bill Battle in the nose with the Pearl hire. Once Battle was on the ground, it was Bama fans that were kicking him while he was down.
Paul Finebaum said Pearl’s hiring was Battle’s worst nightmare. I may argue that Kiffin is, but why split hairs?
And who said Auburn basketball couldn’t upstage football on the first day of spring practice?
With March Madness barely underway, the most asked question in these parts is when does basketball season start? Something tells me a seat at Auburn Arena may be a tougher buy than one in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Who would have guessed it?