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The Jimmy’s & Joe’s: A Recruiting Column

Well, hello there. Welcome to my first-ever recruiting column.

To get started, I want to explain the name. It comes directly from a quote that former Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges was fond of using when talking about the success of his offense during the 2004-05 seasons.

“It’s the Jimmy’s and Joe’s, not the X’s and O’s,” Borges would often say as he sat down in front of a group of reporters on a Sunday evening.

He was right and it was an expression that would ultimately define his career at Auburn.

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say many thought of Borges as an offensive wizard after his first season at Auburn. His offense was atop the SEC in most offensive categories, he found a way to effectively use Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown in the backfield together and Auburn finished a perfect 13-0.

His offense wasn’t quite as good but still put up big numbers the next year. But it was a steady decline thereafter until he was fired after the end of the 2007 regular season. Borges certainly didn’t forget how to coach. I don’t think he spent any less time drawing up gameplans or preparing his team.

Plain and simple, he just didn’t have the talent.

In the 2005 and 2006 NFL Drafts combined, Auburn had six offensive players selected including four in the first two rounds. In the next three drafts, Auburn had had just two offensive players chosen in the first two rounds -- offensive guard Ben Grubbs and running back Kenny Irons in 2007.

Of the starters on the 2004 team, 11 are still in the NFL including eight offensive players: quarterback Jason Campbell, Williams, Brown, wide receivers Devin Aromashadu and Ben Obomanu, and offensive linemen Marcus McNeill, Tim Duckworth and Grubbs.

A ninth, wide receiver Courtney Taylor became Auburn’s all-time leading receiver and played two years in the NFL.

Once those players left the program, Auburn just couldn’t replace them with players close to the same talent level.

That leads me to the point of my first column, which is the vital importance of recruiting in the success of a college football program. In fact, I believe and most coaches I’ve spoken agree that it’s the most important factor in success.

Yes, a lot of things go into a winning football team. Coaching, experience, schedule, injuries and just plain luck all contribute to wins and losses during the course of a season.

But nothing is more important than having more of those Jimmy’s and Joe’s than your opponents. And you get those Jimmy’s and Joe’s by recruiting.

Auburn’s talent level dipped over the final years of the Tommy Tuberville era. It’s definitely on the way back up now but it will take time for Gene Chizik and his staff to lift Auburn back to the same level of schools like Alabama and Florida, which have stocked their rosters with top-rated recruits for several years straight.

Time and a couple of more recruiting classes like Auburn’s consensus top five 2010 class, which is already making big impact.

Until next time…

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