Jay Jacobs, Bad Santa


By: Kevin Strickland

On Saturday evening, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs delivered Tiger fans the present they’d been wishing for: a new head coach. Sadly, Jacobs’ big surprise turned out to be a gag gift.

With Saturday’s lackluster hiring of Gene Chizik as Auburn head coach, Auburn president Jay Gogue and Tiger Athletic Director Jay Jacobs signaled surrender. The war is over. A decade of competition is ended. Auburn concedes its status as a contender in the SEC football race.

Merry Christmas, Nick Saban. Happy Holidays Mark Richt. Joyeax Noelle Les Miles. Seasons Greetings Urban Meyer. Feliz Navidad, Bobby Petrino. Auburn’s thrown in the towel and raised the white flag.

You won’t have the Tigers to worry about any more. Auburn opts out of the chase to remain among the SEC elite.

Since he was appointed athletic director in 2005 Jacobs has faced whispers that he was underqualified for the position of athletic director and that his hiring was a political move rather than what was in the best interest of Auburn. On Saturday, Jacobs put an end to some of the the speculation: He is clearly not up to the task.

When Arkansas needed a head coach after parting ways with the mecurial but successful Houston Nutt, the Razorbacks raided the Atlanta Falcons and nabbed a proven winner in Bobby Petrino.

When Alabama needed a head coach to help bring the Tide back to legitimacy, Alabama brass weathered a potential public relations nightmare and bet the farm on a proven success with Nick Saban. Bama officials had the guts and the nerve to go all in and the gamble paid off in a big way.

When Mississippi State needed a head coach, the Bulldog’s Athletic Director pulled in the offensive coordinator from the nation’s hottest college football team. He brought an infusion of energy to an offense that struggled over the past four seasons and united the fanbase.

When Auburn needed a head coach, Jacobs promised to conduct an extensive national search and vowed that money was no object. He pledged to bring the best coach available to help guide the Tiger football program.

His answer is Gene Chizik?

I’m sorry was Dauber not available?

Chizik returns to Auburn five years after walking out on the Tigers to make a lateral move to Texas – a departure which was rife with acrimony.

I’m sorry, was Gerry Faust not taking calls?

Chizik brings a ten-game losing streak to the Plains, part of his five total wins in two seasons as head coach at Iowa State.

Just curious, how did Lee Corso not make the cut?

Winning coaches know how to win regardless of the circumstances.  Of the names confirmed to have interviewed with Jacobs, only Chizik sported a losing record.

Turner Gill turned around a moribund Buffalo program. His candidacy had Auburn fans energized. His offensive experience could have infused excitement into a program that has struggled to generate points in the last decade.

Gill was passed over for a coach who managed to take a bad Big 12 program and make it worse. Chizik’s Cyclones were 0-8 in the league despite not playing Texas, Texas Tech or Oklahoma.

Gary Patterson took over a TCU program eight years ago that hadn’t had but one ten win season since 1938. He since led the Horned Frogs to five ten-win campaigns. With limited resources, Patterson’s teams beat teams from both the Big 12 and the SEC.

Money was no object, but Patterson was bypassed.

Chizik, who wouldn’t have been granted a raise by Iowa State administration had he asked for one, had his pay at least doubled when he accepted the Auburn job.

Derrick Dooley, Todd Graham and Brady Hoke all took struggling programs and made them competitive.

Chizik took a struggling program and plunged it into the abyss.

With this coaching hire, Jacobs hoped to unite the Auburn fanbase. He has. Auburn fans are united in scorn and in disappointment.

With this coaching hire, Jacobs vowed to bring a proven coach to the Plains. He did. Chizik has proven woefully incompetent and completely befuddled in two dismal seasons in Ames Iowa.

With this coaching hire, Jacobs had the chance to put his stamp on the Auburn program and establish his legacy. He has. Insufficient postage.

With this coaching hire, Jacobs wanted to instill hope. He has. Ed Orgeron today has hope that his hire at Ole Miss may no longer be considered the worst in the SEC this century.

Of all the options available to Auburn, the hiring of Chizik makes the least sense.

In the few scant hours since it was confirmed, the hiring has already provoked a firestorm of protest from discontented Auburn fans and alumni.

It’s the equivalent of Jerry Bruckenheimer casting the new Transformers movie and passing on Shia Lebouf, Hayden Christensen and Orlando Bloom in order to cast Gary Coleman in the lead.

Chizik may turn out to be an excellent hire. After all, Alabama’s Gene Stallings came to the Capstone with a losing career record and enjoyed one of the most successful runs in that school’s history.

Unfortunately there’s nothing to suggest in the history of either Chizik or Jacobs that this Christmas Story will have that kind of happy ending.

Merry Christmas Auburn fans. It’s a fruitcake. Enjoy.

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