Go with me back to early December 2008. Tommy Tuberville had resigned as Auburn’s head coach, and athletics director Jay Jacobs was looking for a replacement.
Senior Editor Phillip Marshall
Jacobs almost immediately took heat for the candidates on his list. Things got a lot hotter when he shocked almost everyone by hiring former Auburn and Texas defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, who had gone 5-19 in two seasons as head coach at Iowa State.
There can be no question now that Jacobs made an inspired move. The crystal football on display at the Auburn athletic complex is testament to that.
But what about the other candidates? What has become of them? Here’s a look:
Buffalo head coach Turner Gill. Finished second to Chizik. Struggled mightily in his first season as Kansas head coach, going 3-9. Instituted the silliest and surely most-ignored team rule in college football history, telling his players they could not be in the company of females after 10 p.m.
Ball State head coach Brady Hoke. Moved to San Diego State and was an immediate success. Now heading toward his first season at Michigan, his alma mater.
Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner. Auburn alumnus and former Auburn coach.
Tulsa head coach Todd Graham. Heading toward his first season as Pittsburgh head coach.
Louisiana Tech head coach Derek Dooley. Went 6-7 in his first season as Tennessee head coach.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson. Has gone 25-1 in the two seasons since he interviewed with Auburn.
Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. He never had an official interview but there was mutual interest. He remains at Ole Miss, but his future could be in question after the Rebels staggered to a 4-8 record last season and lost at home to Jacksonville State.
Miami offensive coordinator Patrick Nix. Former Auburn quarterback. Now wide receivers coach at Charleston Southern.
Chizik has gone 22-5 in two seasons, including a 14-0 run to the BCS national championship last season. He has turned Auburn into a national recruiting power.
Chizik won the national championship in his fourth season as a head coach. Only Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, who won it in his second season, has done it faster.
An inspired choice indeed.