No one can say with certainty what’s going to happen with Auburn’s coaching staff after the season comes to an end in two weeks.
Johnson said he will decommit if Chizik is fired.
As I write this column Monday, neither Auburn coach Gene Chizik or anyone on his staff has been informed they won’t be retained for next season. Therefore, they trudge ahead doing what they’re paid millions of dollars to do -- their jobs.
And a big part of their job is recruiting.
They have a contractual and a professional duty to continue to recruit very hard for Auburn. To do otherwise would be tantamount to quitting. And there’s no quitters on Auburn’s staff. You don’t rise to the level of a coach at a top SEC school without a very strong work ethic.
I find it frankly amazing how the staff has been able to hold this highly rated recruiting class together, even adding a commitment, while the on-the-field product continues to slip.
It may seem a little surreal or disingenuous when Auburn coaches tell recruits they’re expecting to return next season. But that’s really their only choice.
When it comes to recruiting, the most important factor other than distance from home has been and always will be personal relationships. Auburn’s staff has excelled in this area and it’s allowed them to sign back-to-back-to-back Top 10 recruiting classes.
The vast majority of top prospects committed to Auburn and every other school in the country did so based on their relationship with the coaching staff. They’re not necessarily committed to the school.
There’s no reason to run a kid through the mud when he says he would decommit from Auburn if Chizik and his staff is fired. That’s what most would say if asked -- Auburn commits and those committed to other schools.
That’s the reality of the situation and it’s not going to change.
But that doesn’t mean Auburn’s entire class will implode if a change occurs. New coaches and new staffs create a lot of excitement. And a new staff that’s in-place by early December would have two months to build those relationships. Depending on the coach or coaches, they may already have relationships with some of Auburn’s current commits and plenty of other top targets.
It could be quite a roller coaster ride...
All six of Auburn’s in-state commits won their playoff games Friday night to advance to the second round of the playoffs, which sets up some big matchups.
Auburn High School, with a bevy of prospects including linebacker Reuben Foster, will play at McGill-Toolen, which is led by quarterback/athlete Jason Smith. In 5A, Pinson Valley and wide receiver Earnest Robinson will play at No. 1 Muscle Shoals, which is led by defensive lineman Dee Liner.
Toney and his teammates, including Alabama offensive line commit Grant Hill, deserve a lot of credit for how they finished the season. Just to make the playoffs, they had to win tough road games at Clay-Chalkville and Gadsden City. They took care of Florence in the first round and face another tough challenge against Vestavia Friday.
The playoffs in Georgia and Florida start this week...
There’s good reason for optimism going into Tony Barbee’s third season. This year’s team is his most talented and his recruiting appears to be on the upswing.
Auburn picked up a big commitment Sunday from 7-foot center Ronald Delph. Delph is a prospect Auburn scouted at a tournament earlier this fall and thinks can be a real difference-maker. They like his toughness and athleticism and feel like they got a steal.
They already have a commitment from their top point guard target -- Tahj Shamsid-Deen -- and are hoping to add 4-star power forward Jordan Bell to the class Tuesday when he announces between Auburn and Oregon.
The addition of assistant Ryan Miller has upped Auburn’s recruiting profile. They just missed on 5-star Austin Nichols and may miss on Bell, but as long as they keep becoming finalists for these high-profile recruits, it’s just a matter of time before they land one.
All it takes is one or two stars to really elevate a college basketball program.