Later today Auburn will introduce Iowa State coach Gene Chizik as their replacement for Tommy Tuberville. Yep, the same Gene Chizik who went 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State.
He also led the Cyclones to a robust 0-8 mark in the Big 12 this season. Oh, and he didn't play Texas, Texas Tech, or Oklahoma this year. But maybe I'm being unkind. After all, Chizik did beat Kent State and South Dakota State this year. Of course he lost 10 consecutive games after those wins. So, yeah, Auburn fans are pretty much fucked. How do you make Dan Mullen and Lane Kiffin look like Bear Bryant? You hire Gene Chizik.
In today's world perception becomes reality. And Auburn just confirmed what Auburn fans have always feared: their athletic department is run like a breakaway republic, a living testament to what the South would have ended up looking like had they won the Civil War—a bunch of rich guys who live in large mansions and think they're all the boss. How else to explain how a school can jettison a coach in Tommy Tuberville who went 85-49 at Auburn with a 13-0 record in 2004 for a guy who was his defensive coordinator then and has since gone 5-19 as a head coach? I thought Tennessee replacing Phil Fulmer who'd gone 152-52 in his career with Lane Kiffin who'd gone 5-15 was risky. But then Auburn went and raised the ante to plumb insane. Good luck with that.
Chizik was on the verge of being fired at Iowa State. Right now Iowa State administrators are celebrating because they aren't going to have to pay Chizik to leave. Even still, on the same day he's hired at Auburn he's on the verge of being fired at Auburn. Don't believe me? Look at Auburn's 2009 schedule and tell me how many games he's going to win. Auburn goes to Georgia, to LSU, to Tennessee and gets Alabama, West Virginia and Ole Miss at home. They lost to all of these teams last year except Tennessee. And at least Tennessee hired a coach with an offensive resume. Chizik is a defensive guru. Auburn's trouble was on offense. Is he going to create a better offensive system than Tuberville did? Of course not. If everything breaks his way he can get to 7-5. And everything is not gong to break his way. Not even with four consecutive home games to begin the season. Recall that Nick Saban lost six games in his first year at Alabama. Only Nick Saban had a huge cushion and Alabama fans celebrated his arrival as if Jesus had risen. Not so with Auburn and Chizik. In two years he'll be gone. Book it. And this video of Auburn fans reacting to the Chizik hire will be iconic. Here's Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs landing in the university's private plane just as news of Chizik's hire began to break.
Meanwhile Nick Saban will be gleefully rubbing his hands together. Auburn just fired a coach who went 6-1 against them the past seven years and replaced him with a guy who has gone 2-14 in the Big 12. Again, good luck with that. This hire makes Florida tapping Ron Zook look positively inspired. At least Zook could recruit. All of a sudden the $4 million a year Alabama is paying Nick Saban looks like even more of a bargain.
The rest of the SEC owes a tremendous thanks to Auburn. Just when it seemed possible that no program was capable of imploding anymore thanks to the dollars rolling in from CBS and ESPN, Auburn proved it's still possible to bungle a coaching hire. Thanks...I guess.