Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thoughts on Auburn, Turner Gill, and Gene Chizik

Let me get this statement out there right away. I don't think the sole reason Turner Gill was not hired at Auburn because he is married to a white woman, but I definitely think it was a factor. Heck, I don't even think Auburn should have been making this decision since they shouldn't have fired Tommy Tuberville. But they did.

The hiring of Iowa State Gene Chizik at Auburn has brought much scrutiny are rightly so considering his 5-19 record in Ames, which Auburn's AD Jay Jacobs calls "irrelevant". Chizik took over a Cyclones program that had gone to bowl games in 5 of their last 6 seasons under Dan McCarney. The now Auburn coach managed to sink the program to a new low with just 3 wins in his first season and 2 in 2008, including an 0-8 conference mark and a 10 game losing streak to finish the season.

The scrutiny surrounding the hire largely comes from the fact that Buffalo coach Turner Gill appeared to be a leading candidate for the vacant job. Gill had just led Buffalo to the MAC title beating previously undefeated Ball State just a few weeks ago. It has been rumored that Gill even turned down the neighboring Syracuse job holding out for the Auburn gig.
At Chizik's press conference, Jacobs described Chizik as the "best fit" for Auburn. If the job did come down to Chizik
and Gill, then then best fit argument holds some water. ESPN's Mark Schlabach went on "Outside the Lines" and said two SEC coaches said Gill would never be hired at Auburn. Why? It turns Gill, who is black, is married to a woman who is white. Who could those coaches have been? My guesses are former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville (who else who know Auburn better) and former Miss State coach Sly Croom (who knows something about the SEC and being the first black coach in the conference).

Let me reiterate my opening statement. I don't think the sole reason Turner Gill was not hired at Auburn because he is married to a white woman, but I definitely think it was a factor. I don't know whether that says racism or not. Auburn is allowed to hire whomever they want. They will reap the rewards or pay the price either way. It is true that a black Auburn assistant coach is married to white woman, but that assistant is not the face of the program like the head coach is. If Auburn had hired TCU's Gary Patterson or Cincinnati's Brian Kelly or Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson then they wouldn't have heard a peep out of the media and their most famous and loud alum Charles Barkley. But Gene Chizik raises some eyebrows. Chizik was a great DC at Auburn and Texas, but he flopped as a head coach. And Auburn is hiring him to be their head coach, not the defensive coordinator.

I have also heard the argument of Chizik having ties to the South in recruiting as a reason for the choice. I don't buy that argument and I don't buy it with Lane Kiffin's hired at Tennessee. There is a coach at a very prominent school who didn't have any ties to his recruiting area when he was hired and he has done pretty well. His name? Pete Carroll. If you can recruit, then you can recruit. 17 and 18 year old kids are not that much different in Texas as they are in Ohio or Georgia or Florida. But Chizik is a tireless recruiter cry supporters. If you aren't a "tireless recruiter" in college football then you aren't a head coach for very long.

And now Iowa State has hired Auburn Defensive Coordinator Paul Rhoads to be there next head coach. Word is there is much joy in Ames...and not so much in Auburn.

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