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Dump Him or Keep Him?

By on November 8th, 2012 in Football 25 Comments »

Happier times in Auburn.

     War Eagle, everybody. It’s Georgia week! Amen Corner is here with a brisk north wind, and carpets of red and gold leaves. And oh, how expectations have changed in the past ten weeks! Prior to Labor Day, folks were wondering whether Auburn would contend for the SEC West or a New Year’s Day bowl. I don’t think anyone was wondering if we’d out-duel Kentucky for the SEC basement. Historically, the Georgia game has been a chance for Auburn to lift itself from decent, to good.

    We’ll be here with the usual open thread, and play by play, cheering our Tigers on! What chance to win do the Tigers have this week against the SEC East-leading Bulldogs? Here’s what coach Chizik had to say:

    “We’re going to have to play with passion Saturday night. We’re going to have to play at a whole new level to be able to be in this game and have a chance to win it.”

It’s amazing how far, and how fast the Tigers have fallen. Our head coach is wondering aloud if we’ll even be in the game, much less win it! Folks, we’re in those hard times where our only chance is hoping the other team screws up. If I were to a big involved post on Auburn’s keys to victory, I’d have to mention not making stupid play calls on offense, and playing with more fire on both lines of scrimmage. But we pretty much know what we’ve got after nine games this season. If our team gets hit in the mouth early, they’ll mail it in. You’ll continue to see those mindless running plays into the boundary with no lead blockers, and a wealth of bizzarre formations designed to make certain we face plenty of 2nd and 10 downs. We’re basically praying for Georgia screw-ups.

     Gene Chizik is finishing up his fourth season at Auburn this year. Some folks think that he should have already been fired, and some believe he should get one more year, thanks to a national championship less than two years ago. Some hard decisions will be made in December, and the only thing that’s certain is that not everyone in the Auburn family will be pleased!

     So, with the possible firing of the coaching staff on the table, what IS a reasonable length of time to build a program?Many a fired coach has bemoaned a lack of time to “build a program.” How long should this take? Most pundits say 3-5 years. Perhaps a more pertinent question is, how long do SEC coaches typically have, to build a program?

     Today, we’re going to examine the past quarter century of head coaching tenures at SEC schools, and figure out the average. I’m not going to count interim coaches (unless they are later named permanent head coaches), since they aren’t generally considered part of “building a program.” Interim guys are stop-gap, “let’s get the season over with” measures. I’m also not going to count short-term coaches that didn’t even make it to a single game, such as Bama’s Mike Price, or Georgia’s coach for less than a week, Glen Mason. By arbitrary convention, I’m going to call a complete season as 1 year, and any games in a termination season as a fraction of a whole. In other words, a coach that gets fired after game one, in an 11 game season, gets credit for 0.09 years. I will figure up each eligible coach’s tenure, then average them.

     The results are somewhat surprising. The average tenure of an SEC coach, over the past 25 years, has been about 6.9 years. That’s PLENTY, by most folks’ standards, to establish a program. Numbers can be misleading, though. That old Lies, damned lies, and statistics adage can certainly be applied here! Successful programs have tended to have longer average terms. Those schools include Tennessee, Georgia, and Auburn. Schools struggling to make the SEC Championship game tend to toss out coaches every five years, or even sooner! The shortest tenure teams tend to be the ones who were once great, and aren’t happy with their current status. Teams like Alabama (shortest average tenure, EVEN with Mike Price out of the equation!), and Arkansas, have traded coaches frequently, trying to reclaim the glory days of old.

Details, after the jump!

SEC East

Vanderbilt (average tenure: 3.9 years)

Watson Brown, a quarterback alumnus of Vanderbilt, took charge in 1986, and plummeted the program head first into back to back 1-10 records, in 89 and 90. Watson was fired. Tenure: 5 years.

Gerry DiNardo put the toughness back in the Commodore program. While never posting a winning Commodore record, DiNardo posted at least 4 wins in each season. After the 1994 season, DiNardo jumped to LSU, prompting a Vandy lawsuit which was eventually settled out of court, Tenure: 4 years.

Rod Dowhower was a strange hire. Dowhower tried to install a pro-passing attack with I-bone players, and was fired after just two dismal seasons. Tenure: 2 years.

Woody Widenhoffer, Dowhower’s defensive coordinator, was tapped to run the program for the 1997 season. Despite several years of Woody promising a bowl appearance, the Commodores couldn’t get to .500. Woody resigned after the 2001 season. Tenure: 5 years.

Bobby Johnson moved up from Furman to Vanderbilt, and for a while, it looked like Vandy was sinking even farther. The fans stuck with Johnson, though, and were rewarded last December with a Hall of Fame Bowl victory, Vandy’s first bowl appearance since 1982, and the first bowl win since 1955. Johnson abruptly resigned in the summer of 2010. Tenure: 8 years.

Vanderbilt skipped the usual interim route, and elevated Robbie Caldwell from the assistant ranks to take over. It was a bad fit for the high-brow school, with Caldwell entertaining the folks at SEC Media Days with stories about turkey insemination. Caldwell was let go after a 2-10 campaign. Tenure: 1 year.

James Franklin is the current Vanderbilt coach. He managed to get Vanderbilt to a bowl in his first season, and is in position to repeat the feat this year for the first time in Commodore history. Tenure: 2 years and counting.

Kentucky (average tenure: 5.2 years)

Jerry Claiborne was hired to replace Fran Curci for the 1982 season, and proved to be the perennial 5-6, 6-5 coach. Kentucky decided that they could do better, and fired Claiborne after the 1989 season. Tenure: 8 years.

Bill Curry replaced Claiborne, and managed one bowl appearance, in the 1993 Peach. Curry was fired midway through the 1996 campaign. In typical Curry fashion, Kentucky won 3 of their last 4 with Curry as a lame duck coach. Tenure. 7 years.

Hal Mumme brought the wide open Airraid offense to the SEC in 1997, and in his second year took the Wildcats to the Outback bowl, their first New Year’s day appearance in 40 years. Two years later, the Mumme administration melted down under a strange quarterback decision, and of course the NCAA getting their hands on a Kentucky athletic department check written to a Memphis high school coach. Tenure: 4 years

Guy Morriss was initially the interim coach, for the 2001 season. The Wildcats liked him and his 2-9 season so much that Morriss was made the real head coach, for the 2002 season. Morriss repaid the Big Blue by jumping to Baylor after the 2002 season. Tenure: 2 years.

Rich Brooks came out of retirement to take over the Wildcats in 2003, and finished with three bowl wins in his last four years before retiring at the end of the 2009 season. Tenure: 7 years.

Joker Phillips took over for Brooks after serving as “head coach in waiting” for a couple of years. Under Phillips, Kentucky has become the SEC’s worst team. Phillips has already been fired, and is serving out his term in abeyance, lame duck style. Tenure: 3 years.

South Carolina (average tenure: 6.0 years)

Joe Morrison was hired in 1983, while South Carolina was still a I-a independent school. Morrison instituted the famous all-black Carolina jerseys, and Morrison’s “Black Magic” carried the team to three bowl games. Morrison’s promising career was cut short by a fatal heart attack in February of 1989. Tenure: 6 years.

Sparkey Woods was hired to continue building the program, but could not match Morrison’s success. Woods’ first two teams won 6 games apiece, but then the Gamecocks loaded up on SEC competition. Woods survived a player mutiny in 1992, and the team won 4 of its last 5 games. Woods was fired following another losing season in 1993. Tenure: 5 years.

Brad Scott came in from Florida State, and brought South Carolina their first EVER bowl win in the 1995 Carquest Bowl. Scott’s teams hovered around .500 for three years, then the bottom fell out in a 1-10 1998 campaign. Scott was fired. Tenure: 5 years.

Lou Holtz came out of retirement to play golf, I mean, coach football at South Carolina. Holtz was nearly run out of town his opening year, with an 0-11 record. The next two years ended in Outback Bowl wins, and Holtz was seriously being considered as a candidate for governor of South Carolina. The success didn’t last, though, and Holtz “retired” with the NCAA on the school’s heels, after the 2004 season. Tenure: 6 years.

In the coup of the decade, South Carolina hired Steve Spurrier to replace Holtz. While Spurrier has not won any SEC titles, he’s had the team at, or over .500 every year, and in contention for the division crown. Tenure: 8 years and counting.

Georgia (average tenure: 12.25 years)

Vince Dooley was entrenched as a national championship coach, 25 years ago. Dooley’s teams were tough as nails, and usually in contention for titles. Dooley took the job in 1964 and retired after the 1988 season. Tenure: 25 years.

Ray Goff was the hand-picked successor to Dooley, but could not maintain a high level of Bulldog play. At the end of a horribly injury-marred 1995 campaign, Goff was fired by athletic director Vince Dooley. Tenure: 7 years.

Jim Donnan took over after a brief Georgia flirtation with Kansas’ Glen Mason. Donnan’s first team stumbled out of the gate, turning the ball over constantly, and lost to Georgia Tech to finish a 5-6 opening season. Bulldog fans never forgave Donnan. Despite an overall 40-18 record, Donnan was fired at the end of the 2000 season. As a lame duck, Donnan won his 4th bowl game in a row, in the Hawaii Bowl. Tenure: 5 years.

Mark Richt took over for the 2001 season, and won 8 games with freshman quarterbacks. An SEC title followed the next year, and Richt has won consistently since. Tenure: 12 years and counting.

Tennessee (average tenure: 10.3 years)

Johnny Majors became the Tennessee head coach in 1977, the latest in a string of coaches that had failed to equal General Bob Neyland’s 82.8 percent career winning percentage. Following Bill Battle, Majors struggled in his early years, posting losing records in 3 of his first 4 years. The program gradually improved from those years, and the Vol faithful were rewarded with SEC championships in 1985, 1989, and 1990. Then, the Tennessee record started to slip, at least in the eyes of some influential Tennesseans. There were back to back losses to Florida and Alabama in 1991. Johnny Majors was reported to be having heart trouble. Majors missed the first three games of 1992, and Phillip Fulmer filled in as interim coach, and the Vols rolled out to a 5-0 start, including big wins over Florida and LSU. Then, with Majors back, there was a 3-game losing streak, to Arkansas, Alabama, then South Carolina. Tennessee struggled to beat Memphis and Vanderbilt, and the handwriting was on the wall. Majors had heart surgery, while Fulmer coached the team to a big Hall of Fame Bowl win over Boston College. When Majors got out of the hospital, he didn’t have a job. Tennessee fired him, and went with the interim coach Phillip Fulmer. Tenure: 15.67 years.

Phillip Fulmer took full control in 1993, and by 1995, had an 11-win season under his belt. In 1997, the Vols won the SEC, and 1998 brought another SEC title, and a consensus national championship. Fulmer spent the next ten years trying in vain to duplicate that 13-0 season. Tennessee managed 3 more trips to Atlanta as the SEC East Champions, but couldn’t win that trophy. Losing seasons in 2005 and 2008 finished Fulmer off. He and the University “reached an agreement,” and Fulmer was gone at the end of 2008. Tenure: 16.33 years.

Lane Kiffin was brought in to replace Fulmer, and he ruffled feathers and talked smack from the get-go. His first Vol. team finished 7-6, which evidently qualified him to leave to coach at Southern Cal. Tenure: 1 year.

Derek Dooley took over in 2010, and has an outside shot at getting Tennessee back to a minor bowl game this season. Dooley’s on the hot seat. Tenure: 3 years and counting.

Florida (average tenure: 5.6 years)

The late Bear Bryant once said, “if they ever get a coach down there at Florida, we’ll all be playing for second place.” Galen Hall took over for that coach, Charlie Pell, at first as an interim coach in 1984, then full time. Hall’s Gators were strong at first, producing such characters as Kerwin Bell and Emmitt Smith. Things declined, though, and Hall was scraping out 7-5 seasons. The NCAA kept nipping at Gator heels. When Hall was implicated in another scandal 5 games into the 1989 season, he was let go immediately. Tenure: 5.14 years.

Steve Spurrier followed interim coach Gary Darnell in 1990, and Florida was dominant again. Spurrier won 5 SEC titles in his first seven years, and a national championship in 1996. The last 5 years of Spurrier’s reign, the Gators were strong, but managed only one additional title. Dissatisfied, Spurrier left after the 2001 season, for an ill-fated head coaching job for the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Tenure: 12 years.

Ron Zook was an unpopular choice, and was a marked man before he ever coached his first practice. The Gators still had winning records, but there were upset losses that were hard to stomach. Midway through his 3rd season, Zook was fired. He finished out the rest of the season, but bolted for Illinois before the 2004 Peach Bowl. Tenure: 2.92 years.

Urban Meyer succeeded interim coach Charlie Strong, and won a pair of SEC and national titles in his first four seasons. Everyone else in the league was playing for second place, again. Meyer’s 2009 squad was barreling towards a 3rd national title in 4 years, but was derailed by Alabama. Meyer left a year later for supposed health reasons. Tenure: 6 years.

Will Muschamp took over the wreckage of the Florida program, and has made it a division contender in less than two seasons. Tenure: 2 years and counting.

SEC West

LSU (average tenure: 5.2 years)

Mike Archer replaced Bill Arnsparger who returned to the NFL after the 1986 season. Archer had a pair of good years, winning a share of the SEC crown in 1988. 4-7 and 5-6 seasons followed, and Archer was fired. Tenure: 4 years.

Curly Hallman was hired away from a successful stint as the Southern Mississippi head coach. If the Tiger fans thought Archer was bad, they hadn’t seen anything yet. Hallman posted a 2-9 stinker in his second season. LSU didn’t recover, as Hallman never posted a winning record with the Tigers. Tenure: 4 years.

LSU replaced a coach that didn’t win, with one from Vanderbilt that had not had a winning season in the SEC. Gerry DiNardo had initial success, taking LSU to three straight bowl wins, and two SEC West co-championships. Then, his defensive coordinator, Carl Reese, left. With Reese, went any semblance of defense, and LSU was losing again. DiNardo was fired, ten games into the 1999 season. Tenure: 4.91 years.

Following interim coach Hal Hunter, came Nick Saban, out of Michigan State. Saban whipped LSU back into shape quickly, rebounding from an 0-3 SEC start in 2001, to win the SEC. In 2003, LSU won the SEC title, and the BCS national championship. After a 9-3 campaign in 2004, Saban jumped to the NFL, for an abortive stint with the Miami Dolphins. Tenure: 5 years.

Les Miles replaced Saban. Miles won early and often, winning the SEC West in 2005, then winning the SEC and consensus nationally titles in 2007. A plunge to 8-5 in 2008 had some fans worried but LSU has steadily risen back up to title contender in the years since. Tenure: 8 years and counting.

Arkansas (average tenure: 5.4 years)

Ken Hatfield replaced the legendary Frank Broyles in 1984, and won Southwestern conference titles in 1988 and 1989. Hatfield had Arkansas in a bowl every year of his tenure. Evidently, Hatfield and the man he replaced did not get along. Broyles, then athletic director, made no real attempt to renew Hatfield’s contract, and Hatfield left for the Clemson job after the 1989 season. Tenure: 6 years.

Jack Crowe was Broyles’ choice to replace a successful coach like Hatfield. Crowe floundered through two lackluster seasons, then Arkansas lost the 1992 opener to the Citadel. Broyles fired Crowe on the spot, and interim coach Joe Kines ran the team the rest of the year. Tenure: 2.09 years.

Danny Ford brought national championship credentials to Fayetteville, but found tough going in the SEC West. With the help of a nasty Joe Lee Dunn-led defense, Ford won the SEC West in 1995. When Dunn bolted for Mississippi State, a pair of 4-7 seasons followed. Ford was fired at the end of 1997. Tenure: 5 years.

Houston Nutt was next brought home to Arkansas to coach the Razorbacks. Nutt enjoyed a modicum of success taking Arkansas to a SEC West titles in 2002, and again in 2006. Several scandals strained Nutt’s relationship with Razorback supporters, and at the end of the 2007 regular season, Nutt was gifted with an expensive buy-out. Nutt was announced as the Ole Miss head coach, the very next day. Tenure: 9.92 years.

Bobby Petrino was lured away from a short stint with the Atlanta Falcons, to replace interim coach Reggie Herring. Petrino finished 5-7 in his first year, and steadily improved each season to a top five finish in 2011. An ill-fated motorcycle ride ended his job, making way for interim coach John L. Smith. Tenure: 4 years.

Mississippi State (average tenure: 6.8 years)

Rocky Felker’s 1986 debut was 6-5. Felker slid down to 1-10 in 1988, then picked back up to 5-6 his last two seasons. While everyone seemed to think that the talent level in Starkville had improved, it wasn’t enough. Felker was fired. Tenure: 5 years.

Jackie Sherrill carried a lot of NCAA baggage into Mississippi, but he promised that he could have the Bulldogs winning immediately, and he was right. The Bulldogs went to bowl games in 3 of Sherrill’s first 4 seasons. Sherrill saw the writing on the wall, though, it seemed like a bowl loss was the best MSU was going to do. Sherrill lured wacky defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn away from Arkansas, and opted for a JUCO-heavy recruiting strategy. After a couple of transition years, Sherrill was winning again, producing the SEC West Champs in 1998, and MSU’s first 10-win season, EVER, in 1999. Other SEC coaches started poaching the JUCO ranks, and Sherrill’s career went into a retirement slide. Sherrill resigned at the end of the 2003 season, after 3 straight losing seasons. Tenure: 13 years.

Sylvester Croom’s hiring made SEC history, but ultimately he could not get the Bulldogs over the hump. Moribund offense has been the watchword in Starkville, and after only one winning season in five, Croom and the Bulldogs parted ways at the end of 2008. Tenure: 5 years.

Dan Mullen took over for Croom in 2009, and has Mississippi State headed to three straight bowls, a feat equaled in MSU history only by Jackie Sherrill. Tenure: 4 years and counting.

Mississippi (average tenure: 4.8 years)

Billy Brewer was hired in 1983, to end the decades of mediocrity since the days of legendary coach John Vaught. Brewer only took Ole Miss to 2 bowls in his first five years, but began to get it rolling by the late 1980s, going to bowls every two years or so. Brewer had a reputation as a solid coach, till a ton of NCAA allegations came to light in 1993. When the official letter of inquiry came before the season started in 1994, Brewer was fired for breach of contract, leaving interim coach Joe Lee Dunn to preside over the season. Tenure: 11 years.

Tommy Tuberville was the unlikely candidate to walk into a looming situation of a heavy probation, and less than 50 scholarship players. Somehow, Tuberville kept the program afloat, winning the Motor City Bowl in 1997. Tuberville and the Ole Miss brass had a bit of a falling out after Tuberville’s name surfaced in the Arkansas coaching search in 1998. At the end of the 1998 regular season, Tuberville bolted for the Auburn job. Tenure: 3.92 years.

David Cutcliffe took the Ole Miss job, and jumped into bowl preparations before Christmas, 1998. Cutcliffe maintained the Tuberville-level successes, and managed the coup of landing heralded quarterback prospect Eli Manning. Some Ole Miss followers feel that Manning’s tenure was wasted. Ole Miss went 7-4 with no bowl his sophomore year, and added a 7-6 junior campaign. In 2003, Cutcliffe, Manning and Co. managed a 9-3 record, 7-1 in the SEC, with a 44-42 Cotton Bowl victory over Les Miles, Mike Gundy, Trooper Taylor, and company’s Oklahoma State team. With Manning gone, 2004 was a year of rotating quarterbacks, and a 4-7 finish. The Ole Miss leadership demanded change, Cutcliffe refused, and was terminated. Tenure: 6.08 years.

Ed Orgeron was the next Ole Miss coach, a phenomenal recruiter, but only a position coach, with no Division I coordinator, let alone head coaching experience. The Rebels let Orgeron stock the cupboard for 3 years, and compile a 10-25 record. Then after a painful Egg Bowl loss, Orgeron was fired. Tenure: 3 years.

After Houston Nutt and Arkansas parted ways, Ole Miss grabbed him. Nutt started slow, then did well, with Orgeron’s players. With a veteran 9-4 team returning, many picked Ole Miss to win the SEC West in 2009, but another 9-4 season resulted. The wheels came off the Nutt teams after that, and he was fired after finishing the 2011 season. Tenure: 4 years.

Hugh Freeze took over for Nutt, and has Ole Miss possibly lined up for a bowl game, with a few more wins. Tenure: 1 year.

Alabama (average tenure: 4.3 years)

Bill Curry, by any rational standard, was a successful Alabama coach. The legacy of playing at Georgia Tech was too much to overcome, in the end. Curry finished with a 26-10 record, with a share of the SEC crown in his last season. Curry moved on, to Kentucky, where he felt he’d be more appreciated. Tenure: 3 years.

Gene Stallings was a curious hire, in 1990. Stallings had only ONE winning season in his college head-coaching resume, and six losing ones. “WOE AND THREE,” screamed the Birmingham News, 3 games into Stallings’ Bama tenure. Stallings regrouped to win seven that year, then won 11 in 1991, and went 13-0, SEC and consensus national champions in 1992. Stallings then decided to sweep the Antonio Langham situation under the rug, and deliberately play an ineligible player in 1993. The NCAA ultimately found Alabama guilty, and ordered the year forfeited. While Stallings holds the record as the most successful post-Bryant coach in Alabama history, he also bears a share of the responsibility for Alabama being on the NCAA’s “repeat offender” list. Stallings managed 3 more seasons, all good ones, culminating in another Western Division title in 1996. He retired from Alabama in 1996. Tenure: 7 years.

If Stallings was a strange hire, Mike Dubose was downright Twilight-Zone. A mere defensive line coach just two years prior, Dubose had one year of coordinator experience in Stallings’ last season. With NCAA sanctions depleting talent, and a hodge-podge of old and new position coaches, Bama crashed and burned in 1997, falling to 4-7. Dubose adjusted, and climbed back up. Bama reached the SEC Championship game in 1999, and DESTROYED Florida for the title. SEC coaches far and wide, though, were HOWLING about Bama recruiting tactics. Bama was a national title contender, starting the 2000 season. Instead, Dubose delivered a 3-5 start, with NCAA violation rumors swirling. Dubose was fired after a 42-38 homecoming loss to Central Florida, and completed a 3-8 season as a lame duck. Tenure: 4 years.

Bama looked beyond the Bryant lineage for their next coach, and selected Dennis Franchione, of TCU. Franchione inherited a mess, but his first team won their last 3 games, to finish 7-5. On probation for the second time in ten years, Franchione’s second team stomped over most of the SEC for a 9-2 start, before lackluster performances in the last two games: a 17-7 home loss to Auburn, and a 21-16 victory over Hawaii. Less than a week later, Franchione was gone, having taken the Texas A&M head coaching job. Tenure: 2 years.

After the Mike Price stripper fiasco hire in 2003, Mike Shula was brought in AFTER spring drills, to install his system. Predictably, the 2003 team had problems. Low on talent, and with systems newly installed during two-a-days, Bama struggled to a 4-9 finish. Shula’s second team managed 6-6 with a horribly injury-depleted squad, then Shula’s 3rd squad started the season 9-0. Again feeling the effects of NCAA-mandated scholarship reductions, Bama finished 10-2. Shula’s 4th regular season culminated in a 6-6 regular season finish, and he was fired at the end of it. Tenure: 3.92 years.

Nick Saban was quite the coach-hiring coup for Bama. Replacing interim coach Joe Kines, Saban started off strong his first year, but lost the last 4 regular season games to finish 6-6. An Independence Bowl win over Colorado lifted that to 7-6. In 2008, Saban’s squad bowled over their first 12 opponents, to win the SEC West, and they entered the SEC Championship game at 12-0. Humbling losses to Florida, and Utah in the Sugar Bowl followed. In 2009, Bama won ’em all, followed by a ten win season in 2010, and a wild card national championship in 2011. Alabama is once again number one in the nation, and has few serious obstacles in their path towards a 3rd crystal ball in 4 years. Tenure: 6 years and counting.

Auburn (average tenure: 7.9 years)

Pat Dye had already made himself an Auburn icon with an SEC title in 1983. After some struggles in 84 and 85, Dye’s teams won three straight SEC titles from 1987-89. The mortal blow was delivered by Steve Spurrier’s first Gator team, in 1990. Auburn went into Gainesville ranked 3rd in the nation, and the top two teams had already lost. That night, Spurrier’s troops destroyed Auburn, 48-7. It was a blow that would take 3 years to recover from. Insult followed injury at the beginning of the 1991 season, as the Eric Ramsey tapes started being made public, and Dye finished with 5-6 and 5-5-1 records in his last two seasons. On the eve of the 1992 Iron Bowl, Pat Dye resigned. Tenure: 12 years.

Terry Bowden was the youngest head coach hire in Auburn history, and saddled with NCAA probation, he won his first 20 games. Bowden proved not to be adept at keeping the larder stocked, nor at pleasing the powers that be, and he resigned in the middle of the 1998 season. Bowden’s name is still cursed at Auburn, despite him having the best modern day school winning percentages. Tenure: 5.55 seasons.

After interim coach Bill Oliver failed to win the support of the majority of Tiger boosters, Tommy Tuberville was hired. Tuberville appeared to be well on his way toward building a championship program, with an SEC title game appearance in just his second year. The following year, a 6-1 start disintegrated into a 7-5 finish. Particularly galling was a 31-7 home loss in the Iron Bowl, in which Auburn players seemed unprepared, and frankly, scared. Tuberville re-trenched with new coordinators, but two years later, another suspect season gone 6-5 seemed likely to be Tuberville’s doom. As a practical lame duck, Tuberville beat Alabama, and the Auburn administration was caught in some behind-the-back maneuvering towards Tuberville’s replacement. The Auburn faithful were outraged, and Tuberville was granted new life. With a third chance, Tuberville finished 13-0 in 2004, and narrowly missed out on an opportunity to play in the BCS Championship game. Tuberville failed to capitalize on the subsequent recruiting bonanza, though, and a steady decline followed. Desperate after a couple of years of sub-par offense, Tuberville elected to bring in offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. No one in the coaching staff, from Tuberville on down, was effectively able to lead this change, Franklin was fired mid-way, and Auburn had a bomb-out season, finishing 5-7. In post-season contract negotiations, Tuberville abruptly resigned, paving the way for the curious Gene Chizik hire. Tenure: 10 years.

Gene Chizik opened eyes with 8 wins and a New Year’s Day bowl win in 2009, then stormed to a national championship in just his second season. Since hoisting the crystal football, Chizik is 10-12, and is in jeopardy of losing his job in less than a month. Tenure: 4 years and counting.


  1. […] Dump Him or Keep Him? Posted on November 8, 2012 by admin Get Non-Surgical Facelift Info Dump Him or Keep Him? You'll continue to see those mindless running plays into the boundary with no lead blockers, and a wealth of bizzarre formations designed to make certain we face plenty of 2nd and 10 downs. We're basically praying for Georgia screw-ups. Gene Chizik is … Read more on Track Em Tigers […]

  2. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    Acid, you are the consummate football historian. I have often wondered if the legendary coaches like Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno ever had such seasons as we are experiencing. Your article drove me to Google.

    Bobby Bowden went 4-7 in 1974 at West Virginia and 5-6 in 1976, his first year at Florida State.

    Paterno’s worst year was 3-9 in 2003 during his down years, 2000-2004, at Penn State. That was the time calls for him to retire began to surface, many citing his age as a factor.

    According to your research, firing Chizik would be around the low side of the norm for tenures in the SEC.

  3. mvhcpa says:

    Now THAT’s some analysis!

    I am afraid that it is starting to look like 5 years is about the average any coach can stay anywhere. I am trying to figure out exactly what has changed (and I DO recognize things have changed) in the college football dynamic that doesn’t allow for Shug-, Bear-, and (V.) Dooley-like tenures to exist anymore. It has to be more than “fans want to win” because that sentiment has been around FOREVER.

    Michael Val
    (who will probably figure this out the same time his math friend from Auburn solves Fermat’s Last Theorem!)

  4. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Thanks for the research. It was very interesting to read.

  5. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Everything you say here Acid is factual.

    But so what.

    Looking at our nemesis up the road… I mean, we all know that Bear Bryant was there for over 20 years. I don’t need to remind everyone about what he did there. We all know what happened to bama after his death. They had a revolving door for coaches.

    AU is only slightly better because we had fewer coaches after the retirement of Shug Jordan. And the fact that Pat Dye and Tommy T. both stayed on longer than they should have considering what happened during their tenure.

    You could make the same case with UGA and UT. They had long term coaches as well.

    Personally, I think we are looking at this with the wrong perspective. We need to be looking at who we are asking Mean Gene to compete against….

    Let’s evaluate who is currently operating a successful program in the SEC:

    At bama you got Nick Saban. He has stated bama was his last stop. As much as I want him to retire next week, I think it is safe to say he will be there until the fat lady sings. Uh, soon to be 3 NCs.

    At LSU you got Les Miles. He has 1 NC and 2 SEC championships. And while I think he is luckier than a leprechaun… he is getting it done in Baton Rouge.

    At South Carolina…. Yeah, USC you got Steve Spurrier. As you point out he got his NC’s at UF back in the 1990s but it would be foolish for anyone here to argue how far he has brought USC into the modern era of competitive football.

    And last you got Mark Richt. I know! Ironic isn’t it. A couple of years ago we thought he would be hitting the bricks… but here he is bringing UGA back to compete for the SEC championship. Again!

    And then mind you, you got the new up and comers: Will Muschamp has got UF back on its feet… you got Sumerlin at Texas A&M that has them playing competitive ball. And let’s not forget the Mullen’s, Franklins, and Freezes. Folks… these teams used to be competing for the dregs of the conference. They are now better than we are.

    And we all know that UK, UT, and UA will be getting new coaches… so AU will be behind them too…

    But you make the case to keep Chizik…. Okay.

    He is a good man. I will not argue that. As long as we are all happy with a good man leading our team… fine by me. I will stay positive. In fact, I think we will see results really soon. Namely I think ticket prices at Jordan Hare are going to become reasonable again… and I like that! Additionally, Parking will be available. Hell, they might even bring back the old way of tailgating ANYWHERE!!!!

    But come on WDE1988, he can recruit!!!!! *my personal favorite argument to keep Chizik*
    Yes friend, yes he can. At least that is what the recruiting sources tell us. But let’s look at that just for a second. What has he done with the so called talent he has brought to AU?

    What has he done since the NC? By my recollection we have been on a downward spiral.

    Hey, I too was on the Chizik train. But at the first part of this season I started looking under the hood at the engine… all we got in there is a trusty squirrel running on a treadmill. And we are asking it to keep up with the big dogs???! That ain’t going to happen.

    But the talent WDE1988!!! Yeah the ‘talent’. Who on this team can freaking tackle or block again? Uh… we struggled with La Monroe and looked like the same team during the first quarter against New Mexico State. Yeah, okay, we got talent… but what have we done with it? In my opinion, not a damned thing.

    AU is currently 2-7. And we all know (well, I will only count myself), I know… that the record is going to be at best… 3-9. UGA and bama are going to hang about 20-40 points on this pathetic defense. And whoever is our QB… I hope he is fast… because their defenses are going to abusing him all day long. And I am being positive here… but let’s not forget this Alabama A&M team isn’t going to be a gimme… even though they should.

    Hey, I have heard the words used before by Bowden, Tuberville and even Chizik… “I can fix it”… no you can’t! If you could fix it then why did it get this bad? Explain that coach! The difference here about Chizik is that when he tries… his answers are to go back and look at the film. Well, I hate to sound so hateful here… but that damned film is going to be longer than “Gone with the wind” or the “ten commandments”. There is so much there… I think I would be like Chizik… I wouldn’t know where to start.

    Well, I realize I come off as a jerk in this discussion, but we aren’t paying these boys’s chump change. And if it were me, and my job was on the line, and I had an opportunity to keep that cash flow going… I would tell you whatever you wanted to hear too. I got a professional reputation I have to look after not to mention the welfare of my family.

    Still want to keep Chizik? Go ahead! I am fine with it, but get used to the position we are currently in… dead last.

    I have said it before – I will stay it again: We need a tried and true coach. We can no longer bank on trying to find the diamond in the ruff coach that is some how going to come into his own. In this environment?? We must be competitive and pay competitive pay to attract a top tier coach. Look at the talent that is in this conference. It isn’t right to bring in a guy like Chizik who is obviously so out of his comfort zone and expect him to compete with Saban, Miles, Spurrier, Richt, Muschamp, or Sumerlin. Hell, you can add every SEC coach besides the ones that are getting the axe… Chizik is way out of his element.

    Make no mistake… the guy we get if we get them…. will he lose too? Yes. In this environment – it’s absolutely possible. But as long as we see positive trends instead of negative ones… I think our program can endure.

    War Eagle!

    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      Last comment – and it has to do with time needed to build a program:

      bama’s Saban has been there how long again? Going for his #3 NC. And one of those years… he was the SEC West winner… and only lost one game wasn’t it?

      Les Miles won his NC with Saban’s kids… but he ain’t doing too shabby. How long has he been there again?

      Ok. These guys are not the norms… but don’t tell me it can’t be done.

      Folks – those that are talented will find a way. Those that aren’t… will only point out the issues facing them and give excuses how they couldn’t over come them.


      • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

        I couldn’t agree more! The SEC, particularly the SEC West is THE PINNACLE OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL for PLAYERS and COACHES. A coach that needs training wheels is going to have his a#s handed to him in league play. We need a staff that can hit the ground running…no not just running….sprinting like Usain Bolt.

  6. War Eagle Girl War Eagle Girl says:

    Excellent article!! It’s nice to read something about football besides who the next coach is going to be.

    Don’t plan on reading that other dissertation. It seems like a rehash of everything I have ever read on any other message board ad nauseum ~ as though that will change things.

  7. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I’m not necessarily arguing for keeping Chizik. Like Gogue, I’d like to see how the year finishes. True, it’s been awesomely bad thus far. Even if we finish with bad losses to UGA and Bama, I don’t think the decision is cut and dried. I don’t envy anyone involved in the process.

    …..My opinion is that Mr. Chizik deserves a year to get this mess straightened out. But that’s just my opinion, based on gut feeling. None of the main post I did above has anything to do with that decision, either. I just threw it up there for comparison.

    …..Obviously, there are questionable firings, firings totally justified, firings very late, and everything in between chronicled above. My personal vote for dumbest firing was Ole Miss getting rid of David Cutcliffe one year removed from winning a share of the SEC West. Getting rid of Danny Ford for Houston Nutt was a close second.

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      Well said Acid.

      Where’s my Rec’ button?

      Great article. Enjoyed the historical research very much.

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      Doubly rec’d!

      Excellent history lesson. Morale of the story: it’s always way easier to see what should have been done when looking backwards. In the moment, these decisions will always be a bit murky……

      We should get Nate Silver to run the numbers on the likelihood of Chiz being back next season….I’ve also got a Magic 8 ball….

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      My opinion is that Chizik has already had plenty of chances. He failed to replace Roof when it was clear that on field performance and coaching philosophies were not meshing. He completely whiffed on Malzahns replacement.

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      My sentiments exactly Acid.

      Great historical piece. Helps bring some perspective to the situation.

      And I Triple Rec’ on the comment.

  8. LSU Jonno says:

    I still say that the O-line is so young that next year the team will be MUCH improved just due to O-line improvement. A better O-line will make plays that didn’t work this year…work. That will lead to a better time of possession which will help the defense as well.

    I hate seeing coaches fired when you KNOW the team will be much improved the following year. I thought Ed Orgeron was fired a season too early at Ole Miss…Houston Nutt came in and rode Ed’s recruiting successes to two great seasons and then fizzled as Houston Nutt always does. I fear the same thing will happen at Auburn, especially if they hire notoriously poor recruiters but good gameday coaches (Petrino). The early returns will look great, but it won’t be a long term solution.

    Having said that, I have never believed that Chizik was a very good head coach. The Auburn AD will have a very tough decision to make, but I think Chizik deserves the chance to reap the benefits of his recruiting successes in 2013. There will be absolutely 0 excuses for Chizik not winning at least 9 games and competing for the West next year. Plus there will be no bad publicity for firing Chizik after yet another down year in 2013 if it came to that.

  9. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Unfortunately your statistics seem to match that of the business world…

    “The average tenure of a CEO declined to 8.4 years in 2011 from approximately 10 years in 2000, according to the 2012 edition of CEO Succession Practices, a new report by The Conference Board, the global business research and membership organization.”

    …because college football now worships at the alter of the almighty Benjamin; and that is just a sad commentary. Coaches have to win early and win often with no excuses – and Heaven forbid you run up on tough times. It’s no longer about educating young men and seeing them graduate to become gainfully employed and honorable law abiding citizens. And believe me, I know these young men see college football as a way to survive and possibly make it to the NFL, so I understand how they use the system as well.

    I know I sound like a Norman Rockwell painting but I miss the days when success was viewed through the lense of a telescope and not a microscope. When you experienced the sadness of saying goodbye to your beloved coach because it was time to retire. When administrators understood simple mathematical principles that not everyone can win 10 games each year. Heck, we’ve even rewarded mediocrity by created a plethora of bowl games just to squeeze more money out of the system…

    Auburn should go find a young energetic coach (queu God bless America music) with strong morals who is willing to pour himself into young men to see them succeed on and off the field. A flexible coach with a strong work ethic who is willing to change with the times and the ever-changing schemes of football. A coach who stands by the school and fights the good fight when the world throws lies and ridicule at his players and university…

    Oh, wait a minute…

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..And the smart new CEO goes in, cut off the taps, lays folks off, and the bottom line goes up. He looks great, and gets massive bonuses. Then he switches jobs, to another company who’s looking for someone to increase profits.

      …..Meanwhile, the company he left runs into a whole host of problems, because they stopped investing in continuous improvement. They cut costs under that great CEO, so that they are no longer investing in ferreting out new opportunities, or even maintaining the customers they already have adequately. Of course, he’s long gone, doing the same thing to another gullible company.

  10. TexasAUTiger TexasAUTiger says:

    Very good read, good job as always Acid!

    I vote to keep Chizik one more year. I agree that the offensive line should be much improved next season not to mention the studs we have coming in on defense that BVG should be able to work with. I am not a fan of Chizik considering he hasn’t shown the ability to develop all the talent he has recruited but I think the negatives of getting a new head coach outweigh retaining Chizik for one more year to see what he can do. I don’t want to lose all the recruits for 2013, start over with new coaches, go through a rebuilding process again, pay a huge buyout to Chizik, only to find out that the new head coach would still probably disappoint. Get rid of Loeffler and make a good offensive hire, then see what you can do.

  11. MyAuburn myauburn says:

    I want an offensive minded head coach that calls his own plays. There are plenty of them out there that do well running the game and calling the plays. Save the OC paycheck and use it to mitigate the buyout.

  12. audude audude says:


  13. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    I am on the fence about Chizik. We can all agree that this season has been painful. Chizik made a big mistake changing the offense and hiring an OC who had little experience calling plays. The next recruiting class looks good so I would fire OC and go back to the spread offense. Another season like this one cannot be tolerated.

    Let’s beat UGA!

  14. CapnVegetto says:

    Fire him now. Three years of absolute mediocrity coupled with zero player development and improvement equals absolute foolishness to even consider keeping him. One national championship on the backs of the greatest college football player ever and Gus Malzhan does not mean that Chizik can coach. It means he can get lucky and ride coattails.

    4 top 15 recruiting classes in a ROW, people.


    These are his players, his recruits, his coaching results. There is NO player development. NONE. Why in God’s name do you think that player development will magically show up next year? Why?????

    This is all a moot point, though, if we don’t fire Jacobs. If he stays, we’ll be having the same discussion in another 3 or 4 years.

  15. AUdacious_Dude says:

    Hire Petrino and be done with this mess already, ffs.