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Some observations/opinions from a long-time fan:
When he was hired, Chizik made a safe, conservative choice for DC but gambled on an up-and-coming OC and a radical offense. I think he saw a need for something like this to try to win early because of the lack of personnel/depth. This offense paid off in the short-term but I think he saw that he couldn't run that offense and still have a defense like he wanted. He also knew he couldn't keep Malzahn long-term. We captured lightning in a bottle and won an SEC and national title, and he knew this would give him a couple of years of leeway, so he made the decision to completely re-vamp the offense and defense to schemes more sustainable over the long haul in his view. I think he knew there would be growing pains. He knows he has this year and next to return AU to where everyone expects it to be. Will he succeed? I personally think he will -- I think AU will be much improved by the end of the season and will be very good next year -- but if he doesn't succeed then he'll have to move on, it's that simple. I'm supportive of his plan and his staff overall, but I am disappointed and a little miffed at how bad we've looked at times this year. We do not tackle well at all and make some mystifying mistakes. I understand those who say we shouldn't be in this boat in year 4 of a regime, but in my view it's basically a new regime and I'm willing to give it through next year provided we make progress this year.
I always thought Tubs did a very good job at AU. He was a 9-win coach here (which is not quite as good as we wanted, though it is basically what Dye was as well), but do you remember the absolute abortion that was the '98 season and the horrible mess he inherited? Maddeningly, except for '04, his teams could always be counted on to lay an egg or two each year, and he did stop recruiting his last couple of years, but he was a good steward of the university, led us out of quagmire, and fielded some strong teams. He left a bit of a mess but nothing like the one he inherited.
I'll always appreciate what Dye did for AU. My clear memories of Shug's tenure are fewer than of Dye's, so to me Dye is the best AU coach in my lifetime. He stopped the 'streak', won 4 conference titles in a 7-year span, and returned us to national prominence. It became big news whenever we lost a game, and that's when you know your program is strong. I hated the circumstances under which he left, but he was in charge when it all went down and had to go for the good of the university. Nowadays, if he wants to get on the radio and be ridiculed, that's his affair. It won't change what he accomplished at Auburn nor will it affect how he's viewed by fans of other schools -- these are both already determined. I saw a Q&A with him last year wherein someone asked why he goes on that show. His response was that it's just entertainment and not to take it too seriously. He said he gets the free use of various farm equipment/tools/etc in exchange for his time, which I can only assume to be true. I do not listen to the show so I don't really care if he's on there or not. If he says not to take it seriously, then don't. I truly doubt he does. Regardless, he's a grown man.
I'm not sure what to make of Jay Jacobs. I think he's a good Auburn man but we stink at the other two major sports and I think our sports programs overall have ebbed. I know Housel basically had to go because of Jetgate, but his leadership is sorely missed. The buffoon that replaced him fired the best basketball coach we've had since Sonny Smith, and most of Jacobs' hires haven't panned out well. I know these things can be cyclical but I like to see AU succeed in baseball and hoops as well as football. Of course, Jacobs' fortunes rise and fall with those of the football team so that's how he'll ultimately be judged.
Some final thoughts: We're in some relatively low times with respect to football at the moment, but we'll rise again -- we always have. Starting with Shug (which is as far back as I go), every Auburn coach has won a conference title except Bowden, who at least played for the title. Every coach after Shug has won at least 11 games in a season. Every coach after Dye has had a perfect season. Based on history if nothing else, we'll return to the top. Also based on history, however, getting to the top has never been our problem -- staying there has. I may well be wrong, but I think Chiz can get us there perenially if we're patient just a little longer. Again, he either will or he won't, but I think we owe him a little more time. I know it now seems like 2010 is far removed, but 1957 is farther. War Eagle, everyone!
I missed the Barfield SEC championship and his 11 win season.
Oops! I guess I repressed '76-'80! Brain cramp...
Thanks for putting your thoughts down, Very good post. I agree that Chizik will turn this around if given the time but if he doesn't he will be gone. Hopefully he gets to the end of next year for all to find out.
I actually enjoyed those years, Andrews, Cribbs, Brooks, Franklin, Warren, Freddie Smith. I'd take those 6 in any era. Our fans were a lot better then too, much more enjoyment at the games.
"Townes used to say that there's only two kinds of music: the blues and zippity-doo-dah, and this ain't zippity-doo-dah." -Steve Earle
Fearless And True
Only 2 things I am afraid of, women and the police. Gator McClusky
Mr. Gorilla man......nice post, appreciate your thoughts.
..........BEAT BAMA .................BEAT BAMA..................BEAT BAMA
Malzahn approves of NOW Boot Camp! Well...not really...but he would if he knew about it :) www.nowbootcamp.com
I agree with everything you said here. The one thing that I question a little bit is the reference to Cliff Ellis. To say he was the best coach since sonny smith is true, but where are you setting the bar? We had a great team in '99 and a decent team with one great player in '02-03. However, my assessment of Ellis is that he was a pretty worthless coach. I don't ever publicly criticize football coaches because I'm simply a fan, but I'm knowledgable in the game of basketball, and I truly believe that firing Cliff Ellis was the best thing that could've happened to Auburn basketball and building the arena was the 2nd best thing.
Can't argue too much about your Ellis comments overall, but like you said, there's not much to compare him to. Ellis didn't overachieve, but he won when he had good players. He would have had a solid team returning had he not been fired, probably would have made the tournament, but the nucleus of that team all left before the next season and it has not been pretty for our hoops team since then. I saw his firing as a reactionary deal that was pretty rampant across the nation at the time. Remember Nebraska firing Solich only one year removed from a NC game appearance and after he had 9 wins his final season because it wasn't, according to Nebraska's AD, up to their standards? Solich is still the best coach they've had since Osborne and he played Nebraska-type ball. I just don't want to see AU make a similar mistake with Chizik. He might return us to glory or he might not, but we should give him a fair shake and, unless things go horribly wrong this season, I think a fair shake has to go through next year. That would be fair for all sides in my humble view.
Completely agree with you on the Nebraska thing. That move was just baffling and really set the football program back 10 years. I also agree with you on Chizik. Everyone talks about making good hires, but really making a "bad fire" can be just as detrimental to a program. I always ask two questions when people are calling for coaches' jobs.
1) Where will the program be in 3 years if you fire the coach vs. if you keep the coach (simple risk vs. benefit analysis)
2) Who can you get that would be better. And I don't mean who do you want, but who could you REALLY get.
A call to be realistic. Who can Auburn hire that will put us in a better position than we are now in 3 years?
'76-'80 was my time on campus and at that time a good season was 8 wins. However, i saw better play then than i have seen the past two years. i made the mistake of thinking we were imediately improved when Roof left. i still believe in our DC but can't figure out what is wrong. it does not make sence. this century the LSU rivaly has been very enjoyable. The game has been the most intensely played and that includes the iron bowl. The winner normally ends up in the SECCG. Forget 2010 and this game is not competitive and is expected to be another blow out. what is our record against our main rivalries the past 5 years?
Setting a high bar saves a ton of grief later.
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