The Worst of Times for Auburn Football?
Are these the worst of times for Auburn football? It’s a question lots of people are asking these days. Is Auburn really on the edge of a long downward spiral that could continue for years? It certainly feels like a program staring into the great abyss.
Auburn has a reputation for doing stupid things. The unsuccessful coup attempt against Tommy Tuberville in 2003 tops the list. There have been many others. But what we are witnessing today is unprecedented. Forget Alabama or Georgia taking Auburn down. It’s being destroyed from within, and that’s what hurts so badly.
All signs point to this football program heading into a deep slumber, not unlike we’ve seen at Tennessee over the last quarter century. While Auburn’s two biggest rivals are in lock step, determined to own college football, in-fighting at the trustee level and poor presidential leadership threaten to bring an SEC powerhouse to its knees.
Gus Malzahn is not the problem. He is the by-product of a series of poor choices at key leadership posts starting in the president’s office. Jay Gogue’s ineffectiveness caused Auburn to fall behind. Choosing not to dispose of former athletic director Jay Jacobs in a timely matter and subsequently not staying on the cutting edge with a football-only facility and doing enough gameday improvements pushed Auburn significantly behind its rivals.
Steven Leath (along with board support) has only sped up the process with the ill-fated contract negotiations with Malzahn last year. Instead of doing what’s right for the program, he’s instead decided to double down and attempt to keep his own job. It doesn’t take a Philadelphia lawyer to see that Leath is interested in one person—himself.
In the end, this all falls back on a weak board of trustees that has allowed this charade to go on by not having the guts to make a change. Forget what you hear about this being Leath’s decision. Anyone who believes that also thinks everyone lives like The Brady Bunch.
Name me anyone in business who makes a $49 million blunder and lives to tell about it? Exactly. Rather than admit a mistake, suck it up, and move on, these leaders have decided to inflict more harm on Auburn people by ensuring that Malzahn has no chance of success moving forward.
Auburn is burning. Numerous reports say there is serious disagreement among board members. New athletic director Allen Greene has been neutered by Leath, and reports say decisions are being made by board members loyal to Leath. Contrast this to the athletics fundraising being done in Tuscaloosa and Athens, and it will make you long for the days of Doug Barfield.
Did anyone really believe Kelly Bryant would come to Auburn? You would have to be a moron to jump on this sinking ship. He’d rather play at a basketball school where fans rarely show up for games on Saturday.
You know it’s bad when perhaps the most disgraced person in college football elects to take a small-school coaching job and half the money rather than jump into the frying fan with Malzahn. Hugh Freeze may have screwed up, but he’s not stupid.
Of course, it can always get worse, and it did. The biggest kick in the stomach was this weekend when high school coach turned South Carolina running backs coach Bobby Bentley chose to stay a position coach instead of becoming offensive coordinator on the Plains. The idea of tripling his salary and changing his family’s fortunes forever was not enough to hop into this inferno.
Now is not the time to sit idly by and watch Rome burn. It’s time to be heard. Auburn needs real change, and that starts with the president and board of trustees. Here’s to praying strong leadership emerges. Right now, it’s nowhere to be found.