On Friday morning, Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs announced that head football coach Gene Chizik had agreed to a contract worth $3.5 million per year through 2015.
Senior Editor Phillip Marshall
On Friday afternoon, Ricky Parks, the nation’s top tight end, announced he’d chosen Auburn over Georgia and Alabama, continuing a torrid run on the recruiting trail that started in 2010 and shows no sign of slowing.
Two days earlier, the 2010 football team was at the White House being honored by President Obama.
The Tigers are the BCS national champions. They have won their last 15 games. They have become a recruiting force with a long reach, one that turns the heads of the nation’s top prospects.
All this has happened in the 30 months since Chizik was named head coach in 2008, a move that one national columnist labeled “the worst hire in college football history.” Another said of Chizik that Alabama coach Nick Saban would “eat him for breakfast.”
Chizik didn’t know, couldn’t have known, the day he was introduced that he would hoist the crystal football in Glendale, Ariz., at the end of his second season. But he believed it was coming one day.
“When you get into this profession, you have to believe that’s what you can accomplish,” Chizik said. “I knew it was going to be a journey. I didn’t know how long. I knew it was going to be a huge undertaking from when we came and where it was at this point. I never doubted we would get that done at some point.”
In two years?
“That’s always your goal,” Chizik said, “but I can’t say I expected that.”
Even as conspiracy theories and tales of doom continue to swirl around the Internet, Chizik and his coaches and his players are plotting their path to another championship. Will it happen this season? Probably not.
For whatever reason, Auburn recruiting took a serious dip in Tommy Tuberville’s final two years. Chizik has sent a number of players packing. The result is that the 2011 Tigers will be very talented and very inexperienced.
That means there’ll probably be some unhappy Saturdays. With losses come complaining fans. That’s life in the fast lane of college football. There’s not much to complain about these days.
In an interview a couple of weeks ago, this was Chizik’s response when asked if Auburn football would go again where it was on Jan. 10.
“No question,” Chizik said. “Not one question about it. I feel great about where this program is headed. This ship is sailing.”
The waters in the SEC are treacherous. But on a happy June Friday, Auburn football stood tall and proud.