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AU searches prove productive

AUBURN - Since 1980, Auburn has been through five coaching searches, including the one in progress. All have yielded coaches who had perfect seasons or championship seasons.

Terry Bowden won his first 20 games as Auburn head coach

Pat Dye, hired in early 1981, won four SEC championships. Terry Bowden, hired in 1992, went 11-0 in 1993 and won his first 20 games. Tommy Tuberville, hired in November 1998, was 13-0 and won the Southeastern Conference championship in 2004. Gene Chizik, hired in December 2008, won the BCS national championship in 2010.

Here is a look at each of the searches:

1980-1981

Doug Barfield resigned under pressure after finishing a 5-6 season with a 34-18 loss to Alabama. The search for a new head coach began with a search committee headed by national Alumni Association president Bobby Lowder reaching out to Georgia head coach Vince Dooley, a former Auburn quarterback and coach, and Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden. Both expressed interest.

The committee decided Dooley was their man. After meeting with the committee, Dooley literally had pen in hand ready to sign. His lawyer told him they should first talk to the university president. The next day, Dooley decided he would remain at Georgia.

With Bowden no longer in the mix, the committee started over. There were talks with Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill and Auburn freshman coach Claude Saia, but the focus soon turned to Dye, who had finished his first season at Wyoming after a successful run at East Carolina.

Dye, one of the hotter candidates in the country, was named Auburn head coach in early January. Had Dooley left Georgia for Auburn, Dye would have been named head coach at Georgia, where he was an All-American lineman.

1992

After dominating the SEC for most of the 1980's, Dye's program had hit on hard times. Two non-winning season and coming NCAA sanctions led to his resignation the night before a 17-0 loss to eventual national champion Alabama in Birmingham.

Serious candidates were hard to come by. Interim athletics director Mike Lude liked Air Force head coach Fisher DeBerry, but another search committee settled on Terry Bowden, son of Bobby and the head coach at Division I-AA Samford.

Bowden was named head coach in December of that year.

1998

Bowden resigned after a 1-5 start and was replaced by interim head coach Bill "Brother" Oliver. Numerous candidates surfaced, including former Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan, Temple head coach Bobby Wallace, Miami head coach Butch Davis and others.

Many expected Oliver to get the job permanently, but he was gone shortly after the final game. But Tommy Tuberville, who had become one of the nation's hotter candidates by making an Ole Miss program crippled by severe sanctions a winner, was the target from the start. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Tuberville was named Auburn head coach. According to Tuberville, he also had a firm offer from Oklahoma and chose Auburn after consulting with his staff.

2008

Tuberville resigned days after a 36-0 loss to Alabama ended a 5-7 season. A search committee was formed. Among those interviewed were Ball State head coach Brady Hoke, Buffalo head coach Turner Gill, Louisiana Tech head coach Derek Dooley, Georgia assistants Rodney Garner and Stacey Searels and Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. There were also conversations with South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier and Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. Late in the process, the committee interviewed former Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik.

In December, despite a 5-19 record in two seasons at Iowa State and 10 consecutive losses, Chizik was named Auburn head coach.

The final chapter in the story of the coaching search of 2012 remains to be written.

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