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Where Would Auburn Turn?

By on October 16th, 2012 in Football 32 Comments »

Should Auburn decide to make a coaching change at the end of the season, they’ll need to move fast. The SEC is likely to have its highest turnover at the top in years. It’s widely expected that Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn will be in the market for new leaders.

Throw in Texas and the speculation that Mack Brown is heading out, and you quickly see it’s going to be competitive out there in the coaching market.

Should Gene Chizik depart, where would Auburn turn? Who’s out there? Here are some of the big names that will likely hear their phones ring in the off-season…

Charlie Strong – The last time Auburn tried to lure away a Louisville coach, things didn’t work out so well. Strong has deep SEC roots and has the Cardinals undefeated this season.

Kirby Smart – Would Auburn dare hire away Nick Saban’s top assistant? You bet they would, if they thought he could crack the Saban code. Smart will land a high profile job at season’s end. Auburn could be the place.

Bobby Petrino – In light of his recent motorcycle ride and the ill-fated JetGate incident back in 2003, it seems highly unlikely Auburn would look Petrino’s way. There’s no arguing his success, but there’s no reason to sell your soul to the Devil.

Dana Holgorsen – He’s arguably the hottest name in the country among young coaches. However, after his Saturday beat down at the hands of Tommy Tuberville, the jury remains out on his long-term coaching abilities. It will be interesting to watch how West Virginia does in the Big 12 this year.

James Franklin – It’s not easy being Vanderbilt. James Franklin has done the near impossible, making them competitive in the SEC. This week’s opening line of eight-point favorite over Auburn tells you all you need to know about his success. His enthusiasm would be a welcome shot in the arm at Auburn.

Gary Patterson – Interviewed by Jay Jacobs back in 2008, Patterson has made TCU a consistent winner. Not necessarily a dynamite personality, he does get the most out of his talent.

Jon Gruden –  Forget about it. If Gruden does return to college football, it will likely be at Tennessee where he once served as a grad assistant and continues to have ties there today.

Art Briles – Who would have dreamed Baylor would ever be competitive in the Big 12? Was it really Briles who turned Baylor around or was it Robert Griffin III? Does that question sound familiar?

Willie Taggert – Who you ask? He’s the 35 year-old coach of Western Kentucky, who’s caught the eye of more than one program this season. Ask Nick Saban. He’s quietly built one of the top mid-major programs in the country.

Tommy Tuberville – I had to throw this one in there. Remember when the knock on Tuberville was that he didn’t recruit well enough at Auburn? I miss those days when our two and three-star players knocked off some of the top teams in the country each week. It’s funny how perception changes with time.


  1. MyAuburn myauburn says:

    What about Peterson. I really like the fact that he takes every ones recruiting leftovers and wins lots of games with them.

  2. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Tommy Tuberville?

    You can’t be serious. He already stole $5M from Auburn. Your suggesting he get another shot ?????

    HELL NO!

    Besides… he knocks off a top team occasionally. It’s not a given like you make it out to be. And you have notice he hadn’t had a top team since 2004? Add to that the statement that he somehow got folks to play, insinuating that he “knew” how to develop talent. Really? Did he??? Or did his coordinators.

    That is what I despised about Tubs. He was a CEO… if anything he is medoicre coach on his best days. Sorry. No redo’s.

    About the folks you listed:

    I think I could handle Kirby Smart. But I would also like to state that AU could actually spend some coin to bring in a known talent. While you mention John Gruden – I’d offer there might be some “younger” NFL coaches somewhere that would want to get an opportunity at the college level. Proven skills. Pedigree. Competence that appeals to recruits and current players (not to mention assistant coaches that are trying to make their marks).

    I am tired of knee jerk reactions. And I am tired of “stealing” another teams problems thinking we got a bargain basement deal.

    Someone needs to establish the priorities of Auburn and the vision we have for the future…. and go out and find someone that can reasonably fit inside them. Yet has the management skills to make the vision a reality.

    It’s not rocket science. Saying it like that… we probably need a new AD before we can hire a new coach.


  3. meanbass123 says:

    I say if Chizik is gone by the end of the season and James Franklin is available, then take him. He would be a great fit at Auburn. WAR EAGLE!!

  4. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    Is it just me? I’m not excited about any of these guys.

    Charlie Strong? Even as an Interim HC at Florida they did not hang onto him. He may be 6-0 at Louisville right now, but 7-6 the past two seasons is what I see. It would be another ‘gamble hire.’

    Kirby Smart? If you want Nick Saban, then you should have got him while he was available. NO Way Auburn hires this guy and tries (yet again) to keep up with Saban. What are we doing here? Can we maybe step back and do something that counteracts what T-town is doing? If Kirby had ‘the code cracked’ then he’d be the head coach in T-Town. We might as well email Saban and kindly ask him how to win. Do we really need to be second fiddle to Bama in every single aspect of the game?

    Petrino? Maybe in another three/four years if our Chizik successor does not pan out. We don’t want to be ‘those guys.’

    The rest of that list is kind of sad. Holgorsen has a QB that is crazy athletic. Just the ‘Franklin’ name gives me chills. Patterson – already relative to the Jay Jacobs eye, I’ll pass. Gruden, Great! But will Never happen. Briles, another coach with a successful run related to a crazy athletic QB. Taggert? exactly, Taggert? A ‘gamble hire’ again. I’ll just pass on the Tubberville notion – he deserves his success at T.Tech and we should feel slighted by the guys in charge for letting him go.

    After all that being said, it’ll surely take a lot to make me feel happy about our new hire. I just might be alone on that thought. Maybe it’s the bad taste in my mouth from all that has happened since Tubbs’ release (sans Cam Newton).

  5. LSU Jonno says:


    In that order. All should be very strong candidates.

    Franklin has taken a team worse off than Auburn and developed a team that is now better than Auburn. Strong has done great things at a Louisville team that was in shambles and has SEC experience. And Smart is probably the top coordinator in the country.

    To me those are the 3 top candidates.

  6. Autgr91 says:

    Do you think we can all just let this season play out before we cut our boys and our coaches loose for the losses suffered to date? I know I’m an eternal Homer, but give me a break!

    The fact is, there will be a very long sour month for us to make a hire while others are preparing for a bowl game if it is indeed determined that our beloved CGC must go. Look, I’m not happy with the losses, the play calling, the execution, or the management of the losses by the program either. But, this is Auburn. It’s my Auburn, it’s your Auburn, it’s the player’s Auburn. Last I checked, it was CGC’s Auburn too. He has never showed me that he had anything other than the best interest of my Auburn in mind during his previous or current tenure.

    CGC has not forgotten how to coach. We have young players and new assistants (jury still out on one for sure). How successful would Cam have been with last year or this year’s offensive linemen? I think we have recruited good linemen, but they need time to develop. Does anyone remember going nuts watching Ziemba jump offsides, miss blocks, hold, etc., etc., etc. for two long years before it finally “clicked”?!? I sure as heck do. I remember watching Jason Campbell fumble and flounder around for two years before he finally became another of Auburn’s famous alumni. I remember two gentlemen sitting next to me in JHS in 2009 talking about what a wasted roster spot Nick Fairley was, but they didn’t seem to remember that conversation one short year later.

    The point is, we have A LOT of young talent on the team on both sides of the ball, and unfortunately a few older guys whose senior year is going to be a bad memory as they watch the younger guys learn, lose, grow and develop. These players will develop and we will win again on The Plains.

    It’s football. It’s life. Change is inevitable, tough, and sometimes necessary. If it is within the best interest for CGC and staff to go, and that is what is determined by Auburn, then I will support it. Until then, I respectfully ask that the Auburn Family stay behind our coaches and our players, win OR lose, and see this season through. We’ll have plenty of time to ponder the what if’s and grieve over all of the losses and this season that is not at all that we waited for. I promise you that if you give our boys a chance and support them, they will not forget this ache in their heart and gut, and that they will work harder than anyone else to avoid this feeling in the future. Because like us, they believe in Auburn and love it.

    • audude audude says:

      Could not have said ot better!

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:


    • KoolBell KoolBell says:

      And the winner is…..
      That was the best remark I have read on this subject to date.
      War Eagle!

    • guvnahwallace says:

      here, here

  7. freddy007 freddy007 says:

    Some of you people are just really sad. Please don’t stand next to me, average is contagious. If Auburn has an opening to hire another coach before seasons end, minimize the damage caused by Chizik , and save this recruiting class. By all means, go for it. This is a business, not a pity party. Chizik will be fine, he has 7.5 million reasons for early retirement.

  8. bigswamptiger says:

    IF we have to let Chizik go and bring in a new coach. My choice would be MALZAHN. Have him come in and keep the defensive staff intact. This would be the smoothest transition and we could be assured of keeping almost all the defensive recruits since we have concentrated so hard on that side of the ball this year. He coould run the offense (lord knows I would give my right arm for some offensive production right about now.)
    Virtually he would be the only coach we need to hire. AND FIRE JAY JACOBS FOR PETE SAKE!!!

  9. kjl131313 says:

    When I hear James Franklins name come up and his record is 8-11 about to be 9-11 still not winning record i thought we want a leader not a loser

  10. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    This year appears to be a rerun of Tuberville’s last season. It will take some time to repair the damage.

  11. Auburn1125 Auburn1125 says:

    I don’t know why everyone is on board with this Jon Gruden thing. In all honesty I don’t think he would be a good recruiter. If we are gonna throw out big names like that let’s go after Bill Cowher! All the guys in the NFL loved to play for him so I’m sure high school athletes would too. With this being said, I’m fed up with Chizick I’m just not sure I want to pull the plug yet. However, some moves need to be mad. I believe we need to send out Loeffler, Pelton, Trooper, and Jacobs.

  12. DBAU81 says:

    Jacobs needs to go before we hire a new coach. That being said, my first choice would be Kirby Smart. We don’t need to get hung up on the Saban-Bama connection. Remember, two of Coach Dye’s strongest attributes when he was hired were his coaching experience at Alabama and his playing experience at Georgia. This gave him valuable insight into how our two biggest rivals operated. Smart has the same experience. My second choice would be Charlie Strong. Petrino should be out of the question.

  13. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Top take aways frm Chizik’s latest press conference:

    1) Eliminate the outside distractions. (*- i.e. shut down TET and the blogosphere)

    2) See’s his job to help young guys that really, really want to win, and that really, really want to be good and wants to be the best at their trade and when their struggles are going wrong – in how to deal with that. (See #1)

    3) He doesn’t have time for anyone other than his boss. (This comment is paraphrased because the original question dealt with Pat Dye… but he made sure he included former alumni from 1968 in that group too. I think his intent is to refer to #1 again)

    4) Because if he worried with and dealt with #3 he wouldn’t have time for anything else. It would consume him

    Whew. I am glad we got that straight. I personally love it when a 1-5 coach flicks his nose up in the air and says “don’t bother me… I’m busy”.


    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      Looking past my sarcasm, do you get the impression that Chizik is goading the fan base?

      That maybe he wants to be fired? Seriously! A $7.5 M severance is a nice retirement.

      And for those that are on the perpetual ‘keep Chizik’ campaign, I offer this write up found on NTY foundation. I found it profoundly striking. This is an excerpt:

      “We trust that those who make the decisions will make them in the best interests of Auburn, its students, its athletes, its alumni and its fans. Even if the decision is difficult and even if the decision means letting something you love go.”

      I interpret snippet as license to do whatever is needed to be quick about it. Decisiveness. After six weeks of watching an inept football team is exactly the reason why I think we will do nothing.

      Prepare for mediocrity.


  14. WarEagleEngr says:

    Tommy Tuberville will be the next head coach at Arkansas. You watch.

    As for Auburn, I firmly believe Jay Jacobs has already done two things: Set the department accountants to figuring out how to pay Chizik’s buyout, and extracted Gary Patterson’s cell number from his ’08 call history.

    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      Yeah, about that…

      From SI:

      “Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long wants a football coach with “discipline and accountability.” Someone with “honesty and integrity on and off the field.”

      And he would like that coach in place within two weeks of the end of the regular season, which wraps up Nov. 23 when No. 6 LSU visits Fayetteville. Will that person be John L. Smith, the interim coach whose team is 3-4 and is getting headlines for his $40.7 million personal bankruptcy?

      Long reiterated Monday that Smith, despite his 10-month contract, is a candidate for the job but said it would be apparent at the end of the season whether Smith is his choice for the future. And he said the program is in better shape than it might have been after the firing of coach Bobby Petrino in April and a 1-4 start that ruined any hopes for a run at an SEC or even national title.”

      You think it will be Tommy T? Possible. But I think the hogs will look at his age and pass.

      The key take away – as others have eloquently pointed out – hiring a coach is an ardous process. What makes that even worse when you are not the game in town.


      Read more:

  15. CapnVegetto says:

    who cares about arky?

    they want tubs, they can have him.

    how about us? what are we going to do about the current incompetence?

    seems as if a lot of people here would rather just sit around and remain incompetent.

  16. Frank Drackman says:

    Petrino would have been OK before he lost his Moe-Joe…who cares if he’s a jerk, just win baby.
    Jim Leavitt, how come no body talks about him, he did a good job at USF
    Mahlzahn’s the obvious choice DUH, what, we can’t float Arkansas States buyout?
    8 point underdog to Vanderbilt? And we’re gonna kick some Commodore Butt(All Night Long) Saturday, cause even with this Challenger-Space-Shuttle dissaster, they are just VANDERBILT.


  17. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    1. Franklin
    2. Strong
    3. Patterson
    4. Cutcliffe
    5. Smart

  18. guvnahwallace says:

    None of these names bears the integrity and class that the name “Gene Chizik” earned with leadership and calm confidence in 2010. We are winning in recruiting and that WILL transfer to the field by next year. I’m not liking what I see from the offense going too many directions. Run from the I and score, or at least give the defense a break and flip the field. We’ve got two or three capable wideouts at most, two fine tight ends, a good mix at tailback, and a brut of a fullback. RUN IT. The offensive line will be thankful for a simpler and more straightforward attack. Otherwise… blow it all up and get a coach who will run the spread exclusively. The I-formation, if AU will STICK WITH IT, will win more than 2 games before this year is out.

  19. tylerj19 says:

    I’d prefer Taggert myself. I do know that I don’t want Patterson; the off-field troubles TCU has had lately dwarf anything in the SEC. It’s like he honestly has no control over his players.

  20. AUdacious_Dude says:

    Just hire Bobby Petrino and be done with it. Seriously. The media may complain for a week or two, but after he starts winning, all the fluff will calm down and everyone will forget about it.

    If we don’t hire him, then UT most definitely will (UT being Texas OR Tennessee). Arkansas will pick up either Tubs or Malzahn.

    So we can either hire him or add him to the list of elite coaches we face each year.

    And no to Franklin. Being a HC at Vandy doesn’t prove anything to me. Sure he has done OK by Vandy standards, but this doesn’t guarantee success. BP has won everywhere he has went. Not only won, but mostly dominated.

  21. atlau says:

    I would take Tubby back in a heartbeat. I don’t understand why AU fans don’t like him. He developed (or knew how to hire assistants who developed) players. Look at his coaching record at AU:

    – Out of the 10 seasons he was there, he had 6 seasons with at least 9 wins. He was 5-3 in his bowl games. And he should have gotten the chance to play for a national championship.
    – He beat Alabama 6 games in a row. His record against Bama: 7-3. Sorry, but any coach who beats Bama 6 in a row should retain his job.

    I always thought it was BS the way AU (ie, Lowder, Housel, Dye) treated him.

    Franklin would be an excellent coach for AU. He took a 2-10 team and coached them to a 6-6 team. Vandy should have at least 6 wins this season with a realistic chance to have as many as 8. Look at his recruiting class is for 2013. He knows how to recruit AND develop players, and this is what we need. I don’t buy the “but look at his head coaching record” argument. AU needs someone with his energy. The players like it and the fans like it, and it’s going to take someone with his energy to keep the recruits we have.

    AU needs to stay away from Petrino. That is the last thing we need. It is a band aid for a problem that needs a tourniquet. Let’s just forget for one moment how Petrino agreed to a secret meeting with AU while at Louisville, how he left Louisville in shambles, how he left the Falcons, and his more recent problems at Arkansas. He is a great offensive mind, but he doesn’t recruit defensive players. It’s also come out that he doesn’t care about his players off the field and he uses fear as a motivator instead of love/respect. This is completely opposite Chizik and the current staff’s philosophy. This is just another element in a possible transition the players don’t need to deal with.

    Strong and Patterson are very good candidates and I will leave it at that.

    Not sure how I feel about Smart. For the AU fans who say he was at Bama, I say, so what. So was Pat Dye. But there is a reason he hasn’t left Bama. Could be the coach in waiting or might realize once he doesn’t have Saban he will be exposed. Who knows.