Yesterday, Auburn president Jay Gogue posted a note “to the Auburn Family about Auburn football” on the school’s official website. In it he told fans that he’d heard their complaints. He promised that a complete evaluation of the football program — in the midst of a 1-6 start — would be forthcoming at year’s end. He asked fans to continue to support the Tigers.
He did not mention or provide any sort of vote of confidence for Gene Chizik, a man who’s job appears to be on the line just two years after winning a BCS championship. Welcome to the sporting world of 2012. Yesterday doesn’t count, only today matters.
Writer Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News took Gogue’s note as a sign that Chizik is in serious, serious trouble. Further, he suggests a change of football’s head coach might not be all that Auburn needs or is going to see.
“In a way, Gogue’s statement was worse than the dreaded vote of confidence. It didn’t even pretend to express the slightest hint of confidence in the head coach.
It’s also instructive that the letter came from Gogue and not Chizik’s immediate supervisor, athletics director Jay Jacobs. Gogue is known as a hands-off president when it comes to athletics – consider him the anti-Gordon Gee – so it makes a statement that he actually felt compelled to make a statement.
Does this mean that Gogue finally gets it? Does a president whose previous stops as a CEO were at New Mexico State and Houston finally understand the importance of football at Auburn after 5 ½ years there? Does he now realize that his football program is speeding toward an abyss it hasn’t experienced since the Doug Barfield era?
Does Gogue get that, more than a coaching change, Auburn needs a regime change in its athletics department?
Recognizing the problem is one small step, but it’ll take a giant leap for Gogue to do something about it. He’s known as a genuinely nice guy who doesn’t like to fire people, but the problems that exist in his athletics department go beyond the football program. They can’t be fixed by replacing a few assistant football coaches after the season.
From football to men’s basketball to baseball and beyond, Auburn athletics isn’t working, which means the man charged with running the department isn’t getting the job done. Auburn athletics is in danger of becoming Alabama’s bullied little brother like it was in the 1970s, which is ironic given that the current AD was part of changing that unacceptable state of affairs as a player under Pat Dye.”
Boy, howdy. Want to get Tiger fans growling mad? Tell ‘em their athletics program is “in danger of becoming Alabama’s bullied little brother.”
It’s amazing how quickly things can change. When Jacobs hired Chizik — he of the 5-19 record as a head coach — away from Iowa State in 2009, the AD was greeted upon his return to Auburn with boos, taunts and catcalls from a few fans at the airport. But by the end of the 2010 season, Jacobs and Chizik were both heroes thanks in large part to the arrival of Heisman-winning quarterback/Superman Cam Newton. Two years down the line and now the biggest-name sports columnist for the biggest paper in the state of Alabama is calling for the heads of both Chizik and Jacobs.
Life moves pretty fast, indeed.