I'm not sure where it all started, but it seemingly has no end. Auburn people, some of them anyway, love their conspiracy theories.
And the moment football takes a downturn, those theories come flooding out.
Pat Dye is telling Jay Jacobs what to do, Pat Dye is telling Gene Chizik what to do, mysterious "powers that be" are running the football program behind the scenes. On and on they go.
Bobby Lowder has exited the stage, taking away the favorite conspiracy theory. That would be the one that says he is responsible for everything bad that ever happened to Auburn University and nothing that is good, even though Auburn football almost certainly wouldn't be the thriving enterprise it is, one that won a national championship a year and a half ago, were it not for the vision he had back in 1980.
The conspiracy theories will, no doubt, continue to surface. But reality is entirely different.
Unlike in the latter days of Tommy Tuberville's tenure, Dye is welcomed at the Auburn football complex. That's really not strange for a guy who made Auburn football a national power. I don't have any doubt that people listen to what he has to say. But Dye does not tell anyone at Auburn what to do, has no control over anything to do with Auburn football and does not make any decisions about Auburn football or Auburn athletics.
I can't figure out just who these "powers that be" are. The Board of Trustees has been reconstituted. President Jay Gogue isn't the most savvy guy when it comes to athletics, but he is no one's puppet. Athletics director Jay Jacobs works for Gogue, as he's supposed to do. Gogue likes to say "I don't hire and fire coaches. I hire and fire athletics directors."
Do major donors make their voices heard? You're darned right they do, at Auburn and at every other school with a big-time athletic program. They're just not vilified most places like they are at Auburn.
No one can say with certainty where this season and Auburn's football program are headed. The rough start has created a remarkable amount of angst among Auburn people. It's reasonable to believe part of that angst comes because of what's happening of the other side of the state.
Head coach Gene Chizik has put his career on the line with a plan to make a major change from the spread days of Gus Malzahn to a physical, hard-nosed approach. It takes time to do that, a fact not easily accepted by supporters who spend thousands of dollars going to games.
Maybe it won't work and Chizik won't be Auburn's long-term answer. Or maybe three years from now people will be praising Chizik and Jacobs for staying the course that made Auburn a championship level team again. But whatever happens, it's Chizik's program. He'll deserve the credit or he'll deserve the blame.
As hard as it might be for some to believe, there is no man behind the curtain.