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Sunday, December 14, 2008


Oh brother.

Maybe Not as Bad as He Appears
we are ever the contrarian

Yes, Chizik has been phenomenally awful at Iowa State. Yes, it would be much more encouraging if Auburn had hired a coach with a proven track record of winning. But this football program has a history of discovering and developing talent. For instance, this guy:


We think fondly on Borges' tenure on the Plains, and remember him as a genius hire by a shrewd Tuberville - who was ever able to find the diamond in the rough. What we don't remember is just how rough the rough was. In 2001, Borges coached the California offense to the lofty pinnacle of... a 1-10 record, outscored 201-431, and hanging 20 points on a Scarlet Knight squad that gave up 38 points per game in nine losses to teams neither Navy nor Buffalo. After being fired en masse with the rest of the Golden Bear coaches, he joined the staff of Indiana in 2002 and was annihilated, outscored overall 258-445, three wins over William & Mary, Wisconsin, and Central Michigan. 2003? His offense scored 177 points in 11 games, breaking the 17-point barrier in just two contests - a win against Indiana State and a loss to Northwestern.

And then he led the Tiger O to an undefeated SEC season, coached Jason Campbell out of a yawning pit of Nall-inflicted despair and into the first round, and was named the 2005 Rivals Offensive coach of the year.

So with Al looking over our shoulders, I'd give Chizik the benefit of the doubt. It's clear that Jacobs and crew didn't hire based on track record, but based on something else - maybe the kind of intuition that led us to hire Borges in a similarly chaotic offseason? I remember Chizik fondly as well, and it's clear from his stints at Auburn and Texas that he knows how to coach.

Moreover, in looking at the mighty Cyclones' consistent history of beaks in the dirt, I could be convinced that Chizik could not have run them into the ground because the ground is where the Cyclones feel most comfortable. It's homey, familiar - per Wikipedia, Chizik's predecessor McCarney "was fired after going 4-8 in his final season, despite 5 bowl appearances during his tenure, the most of any Iowa State coach." McCarney coached for twelve years at Iowa State and garnered a school-record 5 bowl games. Iowa State - to be blunt - is a football team that is trying to look upward from its faceful of mud and sees nothin' but catfish bellies. Coaching such a perennial turf-eater into even modest success may have been more than a mouthful for a guy who'd been a non-position coach at a major program for five seasons.

Just sayin'. I'm trying really, really hard to find the reasons why our hire of a 5-191 coach isn't a complete and total misjudge of ability.

But Here's the Rub

There's more than mere X's/O's talent to being Auburn's head coach. Just look at Tuberville, Iron Bowl dominator, BCS martyr and talent discoverer extraordinaire. All the coaching capital he had accumulated proved illiquid in the context of a bad losing season. And out he went, regardless of a coach-slaying, Jetgate-defying tenure of legend.

What's that you say? Jetgate? Tuberville used to be able to stand up to the kinds of pressures that he faced this season. Hearken back to the winter after 2003, when Jetgate: exposed gave him a single year to save his neck. He dug up Al. 2008 was a completely different story. By my estimation, Tubby lost his head coach position not because he was no longer a good coach (I think he still was) but because he wasn't playing his own CEO game anymore. He mismanaged coaches, mismanaged players, and then got ousted by Jacobs in bizarre circumstances. How do you miss or fail to correct for a problem of this magnitude:
While waiting for his final flight as an Auburn employee, Nall talks with long-time friend Henry Griffin. He owns Southern AG Carriers. That's where Nall works these days. "He asked me: `Are you ready to get out of coaching?' I was already out of it.2
The bottom line is that he couldn't play the people game anymore and died a political death as the consequence. Coming from 5-19 squalor at Iowa State, does Chizik has any capital whatsoever with which to play the game as Auburn plays it?

Here's Our Quandary, Auburn Tigers

Who has both the coaching capital and the willingness to invest?

The proven coaches (Leach) and the upwardly mobile (Gill?) don't want any part of lethal problems that they can't fix (Jacobs.) The only guys we can get are the guys that need the gig and would be willing to live their life under the axe. Guys who have talent, but have struggled when given the reins of ramshackle football teams. Guys who weren't as ready to renovate that vine-covered vacant house as they thought, but will settle for moving in with their nasty ol' mother-in-law and doing some home improvements.


1 Speaking medically: baaaaaaaaarrrff
2 courtesy of the HABOTN

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