Is This The End For Jay Jacobs?
Those are the immortal words of Jim Morrison from one of the more haunting songs every performed, “The End.” Critics have tried to decipher the meanings of Morrison’s fascination with the end for decades, especially this particular song and this particular verse.
The verse was featured in the opening scene to the movie, “Apocalypse Now,” and it is regarded as one of the best ever melds of music and cinema. In the movie, Captain Willard, portrayed by Martin Sheen, goes on a secret mission into Cambodia during the Vietnam War. In every step of his journey, he believes he is facing the end as things degrade from bad to worse. Only at the true destination does he realize what the end really means and how bad it really is, and he calmly accepts it. Many speculate the opening of the movie, which depicts an intense napalming attack superimposed over Martin Sheen’s face as he mentally struggles, is actually the end of the movie, a fitting use of The Door’s classic.
That brings us to today’s news.
The last month has been a rough one for Auburn Athletics Director, Jay Jacobs. He has been a polarizing figure among Auburn sports fans for several years. His tenure has seen wild peaks and valleys, from the 2010 National Championship to the 2012 (3–9) season that got Gene Chizik, his first major hire, fired. It made Chizik the fastest national championship coach hire-to-fire. His hire of Gus Malzahn also sparked controversy, but it was quickly forgotten with the 2013 turnaround. Since that season, the football team’s inability to become anything more than a flame out has caused Auburn fans to question his ability to run a premier program.
The hire of Sonny Golloway for the Auburn baseball program was lauded as a home-run hire by most fans. Golloway did wonders at Oklahoma but was unable to do anything at Auburn. Jacobs brought him on board even though there were warnings from former Oklahoma players. Eventually, Golloway’s team turned on him due to his abrupt manner of dealing with people and his demands in practice, many of which were questionable NCAA no-no’s. Golloway was fired but didn’t go quietly. He sued Auburn, and the situation got messy but was overlooked because baseball doesn’t draw Auburn eyes, frankly, because it hadn’t been good for some time.
Hiring Clint Myers to coach softball was another home-run hire and it paid immediate dividends. Auburn won back-to-back SEC Championships and went to two straight Women’s College World Series. The success of the Myers’ era created a softball fan base from nothing. So, the fiasco centering around Corey Myers’ departure and, eventually, allegations of a sexual nature sent Clint into retirement and got folks attention. The nature of these allegations coupled with the recent outcry against programs such as Baylor, caused speculation that this issue, along with a struggling Auburn football program, might just be the end for Jacobs. Even The Plainsman (the student newspaper) called for him to step down after the softball scandal.
Just like Captain Willard in the film, every step deeper into the jungle looked to be the last. However, it ended up leading to something worse, making the previous step seem tame. This aptly describes the life of the Auburn faithful over the past month. Ironically, the fiasco centers on Auburn’s basketball program, whose home court is nicknamed The Jungle.
Bruce Pearl is Jacobs’ other major hire. Pearl brought excitement to a languishing program that hadn’t been relevant since Chuck and Wesley Person played basketball with a guy named Charles Barkley. Considering how things have gone with major sports at Auburn, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when news broke this morning that Chuck Person had been arrested under serious allegations. Person is the recently elevated head assistant coach and right-hand man to Pearl.
These allegations aren’t from the NCAA, which would be bad enough, but from the FBI. They allege that Person is a party in a corruption scheme where he took bribes to steer players toward potential agents. According to sources, this happened in late 2016 and involves at least one current Auburn basketball player. According to TMZ.com:
“As for the case against Chuck Person, the FBI says he collected about $91,500 in bribes in exchange for funneling Auburn players to a particular financial advisor and a high-end suit maker, Rashan Michel.
The FBI says Person would use a portion of the bribes to pay off the families of high-priority recruits.
In one part of the documents, the FBI says Chuck met with a player and counseled him about how players secretly get away with NCAA violations.
He allegedly told one player, “The most important part is that you … don’t say nothing to anybody … don’t share with your sisters, don’t share with any of the teammates, that’s very important ’cause this is a violation … of rules. But this is how the NBA players get it done.”
“They get early relationships, and they form partnerships, they form trust, you get to know [financial advisor], you get to know Rashan a lot and like Rashan can get you suits and stuff … you’ll start looking like an NBA ball player, that’s what you are.”
To sum up, several hires made by Jay Jacobs has either produced less than satisfactory on-field results, led to a scandal, or both. But, up until now, the problems could be handled internally. This is a situation that is more than just a black eye for Auburn sports. It’s one that could carry significant repercussions extending beyond wins and losses and likely into an NCAA investigation.
Along the way, fans have been outraged over specific moves made by Jacobs. There was outcry during some of his hires and as programs struggled. There is still anger over the involvement of Jacobs with his business buddies receiving ticket allotments. As of today, theInternet may be as hot as a napalm attack, and many have calmly accepted that this is likely the end for Jay Jacobs. And, just as the last line of the first verse of Morrison’s ballad says:
“No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes, again.”