The Big 12 an easier conference? Really? The conference rankings over the last few years have shown the Big 12 to be the equal of, sometimes slightly better, sometimes slightly less...than the SEC. As for Iowa State. I don't think you'll find an ISU supporter anywhere that isn't glad that Chizik is gone.
At the end of the 2008 season, Auburn AD Jay Jacobs fired Tommy Tuberville and his staff following a 5-7 season. Jacobs hired former Tuberville assistant Gene Chizik away from Iowa State and much head-scratching ensued on the Plains. To fill the vacancy left by Chizik in Ames, ISU turned to former Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads who’d just been let go by the Tigers.
In January of 2010, Jacobs looked like a genius. Chizik had a BCS championship ring and Cam Newton had a Heisman Trophy. (Of course, the school also had to deal with all manner of scrutiny and accusations regarding Newton and the NCAA even changed a rule after the fact to close the so-called “Newton loophole.”) But two years later, it’s fair to ask who really wound up making the better hire back in ’08: Auburn or Iowa State?
In two years in Ames, Chizik posted a 5-19 record, including an 0-8 Big XII record in 2008. At Auburn, his teams have finished 8-5, 14-0 with Newton, 8-5, and now 1-4 to begin the 2012 campaign. Tally it up and that’s a 36-33 mark over five-and-a-half seasons as a head coach. Take out the Newton season and Chizik is just 22-33 overall, 17-14 at Auburn overall, and just 7-12 in the SEC.
Meanwhile, Rhoads took over a team that had gone 5-19 under Chizik and has reached two bowl games, finished with a winning record in his first season, and now has Iowa State at 4-1 this season following a 37-23 win at #15 TCU on Saturday… a win that ended the nation’s longest win streak at 12 games. Rhoads also has upsets over #22 Texas in 2010, #19 Texas Tech in 2011, and a 37-31 shocker over then #2 Oklahoma State last November under his belt. He’s currently 22-21 as the Cyclones’ head coach.
You won’t find Rhoads matching up well with Chizik in the recruiting rankings. Currently, Auburn is #9 in terms of 2013 commitments while Iowa State is #60. Last year, Auburn’s post-signing day rank was #10 in the nation. Iowa State was #87.
But ISU’s coach appears to be a guy who can do more with less, while Chizik is a guy who’s looking increasingly like a guy who can do more… with Cam Newton. Iowa State appears to be getting better. Auburn appears to be getting worse.
Rhoads signed a deal last December paying him $20 million over 10 years. Chizik was given a salary of $3.5 million per year after his BCS win. Who’s getting more value? That depends on how much a BCS championship is worth two years after the fact.
Look, there’s no question that Chizik is having to coach in the SEC while Rhoads is in the Big XII. There’s a difference there. And we certainly aren’t suggesting Chizik should be let go. He did land Newton and he did win the BCS title with him.
But it is fair to ask which school got the better deal on its football coach. If Rhoads is winning in an easier conference, then why didn’t Chizik? And if Rhoads is pulling upsets with a team whose foundation was laid by Chizik, then why isn’t the foundation Chizik’s put down at Auburn paying off in something better than a 1-4 record and a soul-crushing 24-7 loss to previous butt-of-jokes Arkansas this past weekend?
Here’s betting in January of 2010, Jacobs didn’t think anyone would be able to even ask if his coach is better than Iowa State’s coach.