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Torches and Pitchforks

By on October 16th, 2012 in Football 34 Comments »

 The hay is in the barn?

The long knives are out for Gene Chizik this week. Last week it was limited to the head of OC Scott Loeffler on a platter. It just bumped a paygrade up. I understand the frustration. I see both sides of the argument. When something hurts so bad you just want to make it go away as quick as possible, but amputation isn’t necessarily the first step in most surgeries these days. I know the pain. This ain’t my first suck ass season rodeo. Back in the good old days, fan melt downs were done in private because you only got to commiserate with your close friends. In the internet age, you’ve got everybody joining in. It would be great if we could only talk about Auburn family matters amongst ourselves, but this site is wide open. I hate that rivals might use our misery against us but such is the reality in today’s information age.

I’m relieved that most of the criticism for this team and head coach have been constructive, even if being constructive does conclude with a host of people losing their very lucrative jobs. Loeffler, Chizik, and Jacobs are on the hit list, and likely the whole lot of coaches if Chizik is sacked. Does it need to be that way for all of them? Clean house? Or are we being too quick on the trigger? Maybe that’s the end result in today’s video game world–hit the reset button. In college football, you’re either reloading or rebuilding with the players. Reset or ressurect must be what you do with the coaches.

I think Loeffler’s job should be yanked, but at season’s end. I don’t want to see another Tony Franklin episode. What did firing Franklin mid season actually accomplish? It certainly did nothing to preserve Tubs’ job. It only embarassed the university and filled the player’s minds with more doubt. Loeffler’s offense should be tweaked by a second set of hands–or two–or force him to make wholesale changes. I really don’t think we can get worse so it’s only upside or the status quo. At the end of the year he should be let go with regrets. It simply didn’t click or work, but we don’t have to hate him for it.  Maybe he wasn’t quite ready for prime time, maybe we didn’t have the personnel that he needed. We’ll probably never know. We just need to stay classy and respectful when the time comes.

Jay Jacobs is a tough one, but the favorite of those of us who prefer the wrecking ball to knock it all down. Jacobs hired Chizik, so he must be held accountable, or so the logic goes. I have absolutely NO idea what sort of executive Jay Jacobs is, and I doubt most fans do either. Most of his work never makes the headlines. But even at a football factory his work doesn’t stop and end within the confines of Jordan-Hare. Jacobs works for a very small, selective contigent of people–the president of the university and the trustees. They are the ones who must give him a vote of confidence or not. The whims of fans like us shouldn’t be strong enough to blow down the chief executive of the athletic department barring something catastrophic. We do hire professionals now, rather than letting the head football coach also wear that hat. Progress has been made. We may have 87,451 coaches in the stands but we don’t have that many executives there. I’m not going to pretend I can make a case for Jay Jacobs to be fired. That decision is simply way above my pay grade.

Gene Chizik is a good man and I believe a good coach. He’s bought into the Auburn family and done everything we’ve asked him to do and we have accepted him as one of our own. He’s brought us to the pinnacle of college football success and done it with class and style. Now he needs something from us in return. He needs our patience and understanding. I do think it’s good that he sees the ramblins from the naysayers. I believe a little fear is healthy in every relationship and he must know that the product he’s produced this year is ABSOLUTELY unacceptable for a program of this caliber. The blow-out losses to the big rivals from last year were unacceptable. Compound it with the wheels coming off this year and you get a perfect storm that ends in a contract getting terminated in a lot of cases.

Firing a coach two years removed from a national championship would be unheard of and would certainly make us the laughing stock of college football. I’d be ashamed of my school if they did that. I think Gene Chizik deserves our support during this hour of need and should be allowed to right this ship through next year. We accepted him as part of our family and we cannot turn our back on him. Give him whatever tools he needs in his efforts. He already knows the clock is ticking. Pressure works wonders in this business of coaching college football. It generally does one of two things: produces results or opens up another spot on your coaching roster.

But if the decision has been made, let’s let him know when the time comes and not give conflicting signals. For pete’s sake, I don’t want to repeat the dysfunction of the on again, off again firings of Tommy Tuberville. We Auburn folk should be above jerking someone around like that. And we certainly don’t want to get the reputation of treating coaches like that because we’ll never get an established winner in here again.

Stay calm and War Eagle.


  1. kjl131313 says:

    If you fire Scot after one year where you didnt give him full control of the offense or let him bring in his people who is going to want to be your cordinator?

  2. CapnVegetto says:

    Wow. Just Wow.

    Gene Chizik is paid millions of dollars to produce at the head of a multi-million dollar football program, one of the most lucrative in the country. He is failing miserably, and refusing to do anything about it other than ‘stick with his plan.’

    His plan is an abysmal failure. Plain and simple, HE CAN’T COACH. PERIOD. We have a team LOADED with 4 and 5 star recruits, and we are in the cellar of the SEC. We are worse than VANDERBILT for God’s sakes.

    This is NOT about 1 year. This is about the TOTAL lack of development of all the talent that he has recruited over the last 4 years. We are NOT getting better. Without Cam Newton, we were mediocre at best. We have been blown out by ANYBODY worth a damn for his whole tenure, with the exception of 2010 and LSU 2 weeks ago. WE AREN’T EVEN COMPETITIVE.

    We won the national championship with the 60th ranked defense in the country. The pass defense that year was in the bottom 15 or so in the ENTIRE COUNTRY. Every year we get worse.


    Dan Mullen at Mississippi State is a fine example of the opposite. Were they winning tons of games? No, but they got better every year. They developed their players and gave the fanbase hope. Even though their win/loss record wasn’t the best, the team was visibly improving and changing their attitude.

    STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS YEAR. Yes, we suck, but THIS IS NOT ABOUT 1 YEAR. This is about the ENTIRE BODY OF WORK. For 4 years, we have gotten worse every year. 2010 could have very easily been a 7 or 8 win season with a few different bounces. Tell me you didn’t tense up and cringe that year every time the opposition dropped back to pass.

    At the end of this year, it is time to clean house. I’ll elaborate more when I write me weekly rant.

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      Weekly rant?
      What do you call these comments? Sharpening your pitch fork?

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      Dude, WEA IS looking at the bigger picture. While it is hard for me to fathom another year of Chizik-ball, the reality is if we want to make any measurable change for the *better*, the decisions need to be made methodically and meticulously. Unless there is serious justification (and some will argue that there already is a mountain of this available), you can’t fire a MNC winner so close to winning the title and expect anyone with measurable coaching ability to sign on with Auburn. I do not want a rotating door of coaches…that will set us back significantly.

  3. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……Thanks, WEA. Sage advice.

    ……Remember how silly Arkansas looked when they ran off Ken Hatfield after he won back to back southwest Titles, to hire Jack Crowe? Then he was gone in two years plus one game. Then it was Joe Kines. Then they brought in Danny Ford to “help” Kines. Then they hired Ford full time, and fired him two years after he won the division, to hire Houston Nutt.

    ……How ’bout Ole Miss, running off David Cutcliffe a year after he won a share of the West. To hire and fire Ed Orgeron in three years, then the latest Nutt debacle.

    …..Tennessee isn’t looking so good since they decided to run Phillip Fulmer off, either.

    ……How ’bout Bama, with the Dubose/Franchione/Price/Shula parade in a period of 6 years? I think the college football world was snickering.

    …..I think it’s important to remember that coaches don’t generally forget how to coach. For instance, Ole Tommy Tuberville is off to a 5-1 start this year at Texas Tech, and just kicked a serious board up Holgo’s you-know-what. And the natives in Lubbock were clamoring for his head after a losing season last year.

  4. AUwaterboy AUwaterboy says:

    Good read WEA and good advice

  5. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Great job WEA!

    This is the best thing I’ve read about the situation. As Acid said above, “sage” wisdom.

  6. sevenspurs says:

    I’ll tell you what’s unheard of: The mismanagement of the talent that Chizik has amassed over the past 4 years, losing the momentum of a National Championship in recruiting/coaching (in only two years at that!), and his overall record after winning a NC. I like Chizik and think what you have said is spot on. He is part of the Auburn family, I just hope he has the humility to realize that he isn’t head coach material. Don’t let that crystal football fool you Chizik, we had to come from behind in 7 games that year. That doesn’t sound like a strong head coach to me……….

  7. GreenvilleAUfan GreenvilleAUfan says:

    Good editorial WEA.
    I didn’t know you could be so fair and balanced.

  8. kjl131313 says:

    I mean come on Tubs has been doing good those five wins are against
    Northwestern State
    Texas State
    New Mexico
    Iowa State
    All football powerhouses.

  9. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    I love reason.

    I love sage advice.

    I especially love it when both are used together.

    But I got to take issue here: “Firing a coach two years removed from a national championship would be unheard of and would certainly make us the laughing stock of college football.”


    I mean, you don’t think being 1-5 over all or 0-4 conference play (which is only going to increase in losses) isn’t laughing stock material in and of itself?

    I guess we differ here.

    It would be one thing if I saw improvement. Any improvement I have not seen a shred… even though, like I am on record as saying, I wasn’t embarrased by the losses to Clemson or LSU. Heck, I thought we did better than last year. That was until we figured out that both teams were not as good as they were the year prior.

    How much money is Chizik getting? I say that because I can’t see what is happening behind the scenes and Coach Chizik hasn’t seemed too excited about anything. At all. On the football field, in a press conference… nothing.

    And for the record, it won’t matter a hill of beans – leave Chizik or fire him. Damage is already being done to the program. It was irrepairable when you ruled yourself out of bowl elgibility. I guess it really depends on WHEN you expect to be competitive again. Next year? With the staff that has screwed this season up… not likely. Then the next? That depends on Coach Chizik in terms of his staff and how well recruiting turns out this season. We sure as heck don’t have a QB.

    So make the case.

    Which one will it be.

    Logic to keep Chizik: He shows signs of life. He stabilizes the ship and gets things moving forward again. That means he wins. Against the rest of the schedule…. we get a top rated recruiting class. He gets a coordinator that knows what he is doing. Life moves on. Next year AU should expect to compete for the SEC championship. The year after that a national title. That isn’t unreasonable considering.

    Logic to fire Chizik: Limit the damage being done to the program – show recruits that everything is being done to fix the situation. Get a known quantity. Someone who has enough prestige to come in and deal with Nick Saban.

    In the end – the damage I refer to is going to start to reflect in ticket sales – especially next season. AU tickets will be like the cartoon depicting the kid who is trick or treating. And that is pretty sobering for a program two years removed from a National Championship. It’s hard not to see it but AU is falling behind by the day.


  10. Derrick Roberts Derrick Roberts says:

    I am so conflicted on this issue. Part of me badly wants to see the entire thing blown up and the slate wiped clean – the athletic department, coaches, everything. All of them out.

    Part of me also considers it mind-boggling to call for a coach’s head 2 years removed from winning it all.

    I understand the argument of not wanting to risk being the laughing-stock of CFB. I understand the argument of “think how it would make other coaches feel about coming here if we run Chizik off 2 years after winning the BCSNCG.”

    BUT (because there always is one)

    I certainly don’t want a coach leading our program that thinks he can/deserves to get away with fielding a team that is of the poor quality that I have seen thus far this year. That is not acceptable. 2010 NC or not, this team is inexplicably dreadful. No matter if we won it all 2 years ago or never.

    It isn’t often pretty and it is hardly ever fair, but the standards of being a coach at a program like Auburn are in place for certain reasons. Fair or unfair. Reasonable or not. Not one single coach is above or immune to failing to live up to those standards no matter who they are or how much they’ve won.

    • mgizmo2005 says:

      good post Derrick. I agree about being conflicted. One part of me screams this is unacceptable. Another part of me believes that he is a better coach than this and deserves a chance to prove it.

      I don’t think fans need to worry if they want coaches fired. It might not happen on their timetable, but it will most definitely happen. Anybody pay attention to Auburn football lately? Coaches get fired when the team doesn’t win. That’s what you want, you will get it. It is only a question of who and when. If Chizik is here next year, Loeffler won’t be. I don’t see anyone out there who is a “known quantity” who would be a suitable replacement for him right now. Maybe there is someone, but whoever pulls that trigger needs to have the right person to take over. That is critical. Don’t fire him and bring in John L Smith thats for damn sure.

  11. mack0079 says:

    In an attempt at full disclosure and to get the full hatred of all who have read this far, yes, i am an Alabama fan. I am also though an SEC fan and support, unlike many of my fellow like minded Bama fans, all of the SEC teams. Admittedly it is a little selfish as it serves to help Bama but overall it helps the conference which is the ultimate goal. I am extemely proud that we as a State have been able to keep the BCS Championship in State for the past three years and hopefully Bama will make it four and God willing AU can follow that again.

    All that being said I watched my team struggle for 17 years when our coaching went South and I wish that upon no one. Well perhaps USC, they deserve it. Anyway, Chizik appears to be an admirable coach I think he had a great year out the gate and expectations may have been placed to high. That by no means can excuse a crap season but understand that great head coaches find great assistant coaches and at times finding the right mix takes time(not more than two maybe three years or it is his fault). But be careful asking for his head before giving adequate time some notable screwups in the SEC Terry Bowden AU, Tommy Tuberville AU, Houston Nutt AR, Phillip Fulmer and there are more. These gentlemen were cast out in search of something better and well I think for the most part the teams that they departed would love to have a 10-2 or 9-3 record. 6-6 and bowl bound even sounds good look at Arkansas they got rid of Nutt because they wanted a high octane exciting offense so they got rid of him while they were winning and yes they had a high power offense for what two seasons. Now they are saying they would like to run the ball like the good old days. They killed their own good old days. Make sure that in your wishing for a change that you don’t get 17 years worth of the MIKE’s they are not worth it.

  12. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    If you can get a slam dunk, no doubt about it coach who can come in and assume repsonsibility for the whole football program….answerable only to the president…then by all means make the change. BUT who is that guy?
    Lets also remember that football is the ultimate team sport where failure by one can mean failure by all. Unfortunately the leaders on both sides of the ball are the weakest links on the team. Its hard for me to get that upset at Chizik when our only options at QB are first year starters Moseley/Frazier, going behind a line with Freshmen at tackle, a sophomore at center and only Freshmen as backups for the entire line. We also lost our workhorse tailback that would have taken the pressure off of the QB a little. I mean, Cam Newton would have a hard time being successful in our offense, especially the way Loeffler calls a game.
    On defense what do you do when your “leader” is Jake Holland? I hate to dump on a kid, but you might as well not even have him on the field for all the impact he makes in a game and he is at THE point of attack. Throw in the fact that we play a 4-3 defense and RARELY even have a 3rd linebacker in the game and you see why we can’t stop the run, which leaves you exposed to the pass. I wish I could say get Holland the heck out of there, and I think they are trying to, but we are limited to Freshmen as backups again.
    I know things suck and I can’t imagine keeping a coach that goes 3-9, but I see glimpses of where this team COULD be with a more experienced line and QB and a beast at LB named Reuben Foster. The lines biggest problem has been miscomunication in pass blocking and having to open holes against 8 or 9 defenders. Thats hard to accomplish….I don’t care how many stars you have behind your name.
    If we can get a slam dunk hire, by all means go for it, but I don’t think we will land one if we are willing to give up on a coach that is coming off a national championship season 2 years ago and has excelled at recruiting and has another top 10 class waiting to hit the Plains. Remember, Tubberville left the cupboard absoltely bare. Chizik had to scrounge up JUCO players in his 1st two classes just to field a competitive team. He struck gold with Newton, but now those JUCO’s are gone, as well as Dyer. We are really penalizing him for winning a MNC and the fact that Frazier and Holland have been overmatched at their positions. If those guys are just average, we probably beat Clemson, LSU and Ole Miss and the world looks a lot different.
    Getting rid of Chizik may be the endgame but it can’t be done just to make a change. I know it looks like we are soooo far from being respectable but we really aren’t. The pieces are there to make us successful, unfortunately it just needs a little more time to come together. If the line matures and beefs up and becomes the wall it should be, we will see a VERY different result come game day next year and the year after. If it doesn’t and the team still struggles and doesn’t improve Chizik will have had his chance to field a full four years worth of superior talent that had a chance to mature. At that point it is reasonable to make a change….any change. I just don’t think that time for change is now.

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Agree Colonel …

      And very well put!

      • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

        At this time in 2008, I was frothing at the mouth to get rid of Tubberville… but Tubs had been here nine years and was 4 years removed from going undefeated, the record got worse every year after ’04 and he was not recruiting. He also used every open job to hold up Auburn for more money. He had plateaued and it was clear he wasn’t giving the job his full effort. Saban just handed him his ass and it was CLEAR that the worm had turned.
        For some reason I don’t feel the same about Chizik. I know that the buck stops with him and he is responsible for the failures of Loeffler and Van Gorder (who surprisingly seems to be getting a pass on his performance despite the fact he hasn’t shown an ability to stop a spread based attack yet.) and all the other coaches. But based on what I’ve seen, I just have the feeling that, for one reason…..or twenty others, that the dominoes haven’t lined up in his favor but that he is just around the corner from getting the team where it needs to be. There is absolutely NOTHING factual I can point to bear that out, I just have that feeling after seeing this team play…..and after all the other distractions and heartaches that have hppened off the field…. that they are just around the corner from turning this around. But the confience and maturity have to come before that will happen and it probably won’t happen this year.

  13. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Great write up WEA, one of your best ever. I agree with your sentiment, not that I have ever been the off with their heads type person (excluding Lowder and Jacobs).

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