Circling the Drain
Few will write it yet. I will. Gene Chizik will not return as Auburn head coach next season. Nothing prophetic in that statement. Barring a monumental turnaround that includes wins over Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama, this program will again be in the market for a new football coach.
It’s not a reach to say this is the most astonishing season in Auburn history. Many will debate whether it’s the worst ever, but there’s no arguing these coaches have done less with more than any in school history.
The reality today is that Auburn must win Saturday in Nashville to have any hope of winning a conference game this season. Such a win will do little to help Chizik’s cause. With six games left, the hay is in the barn, as Pat Dye likes to say.
WDE has been replaced with WTF.
On the surface, it sounds ridiculous to suggest that Auburn people would call for a coaching change. With a national championship and two eight win seasons, surely Chizik deserves another year?
Look just below the surface and you’ll see there’s no other option.
Outside of the narrow two-point loss to LSU on September 22nd, Auburn has lost its last five conference games by margins of 21, 17, 18, 28 and 40 points.
Auburn’s average margin of defeat to the two Mississippi schools: 19.5 points. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t get much worse than that number.
Last week, we saw the early stages of this team getting away from the coaching staff. Imagine a player on Nick Saban’s squad making comments to the media like Sammy Coates did last Tuesday. Say what you will, I can assure you that wouldn’t happen in Tuscaloosa.
We can speculate all day about why this season has come off the tracks. Is it lack of senior leadership? Is Scott Loeffler really that bad of an offensive coordinator? Are Auburn assistants more focused on recruiting than coaching? Would things be different if Kiehl Frazier had lived up to expectations?
Regardless of the answers, it all falls in the lap of one person: Eugene T. Chizik.
Not so long ago, coaches were given time to get things fixed. But with $3.5 million annual salaries, those days are gone. A family of four now pays more than $2,000 for season tickets in the upper deck. Cokes run $6 at the concession stand. Free parking areas around Jordan-Hare Stadium continue to shrink.
Auburn officials had no problem sticking it to fans after the 2010 national championship season. Now, rightfully so, fans are ready to stick it to this coaching staff and perhaps even Jay Jacobs.
With the colossal failure of the men’s basketball, baseball and now football program, it’s hard to justify kicking Chizik to the curb without sending Jacobs with him. As a friend of mine said Saturday afternoon, it’s time to burn the whole thing down and start over.
Rarely is starting over a good thing. In Auburn’s case, it may be the only solution. Never in my wildest dreams would have imagined writing that line two years ago.