SZVETITZ COLUMN: Auburn’s hype machine still rolling

The Auburn Hype Machine, Chizik and Barbee get recruiting.

In Gene Chizik’s first year at Auburn, his staff, once it was fully assembled, made a significant splash in recruiting during its initial month.

It seemed the Tigers pulled some of the nation’s better recruits out of Trooper Taylor’s backward hat, as the coaches only had a short amount of time to make an impact on the trail.

With a full year under its belt, Chizik’s staff really showed what it was capable of this past February, signing a top-five class across every recruiting board in the nation.

In Tony Barbee’s first month on the job, he hit the road with just as much energy and purpose, getting into living rooms and high school gyms across Alabama within hours of his hiring, with the sole purpose of getting kids excited about a dormant basketball program.

And all he did was get the state’s top recruit, Josh Langford out of Huntsville’s Lee High School, to ink with the Tigers. Imagine what Barbee will be able to do once he’s been in the state for more than a few weeks.

Why? Because he gets it. Just like Auburn’s football coaches.

See, recruiting isn’t hard. It’s quite simple, really.

It’s about excitement. Buzz. Hype. Exposure.


Chizik’s staff has been generating it since Day 1. Barbee’s also jumped right in with both feet after his hiring in March.

Well, OK, Barbee’s been doing it that way for a long time already. Remember, he learned from one of the best in John Calipari, who could sell ice to an eskimo.

And how do you do that?

Well, you make your ice the most recognized brand on the glacier. That, and you think outside the igloo, er, box.

But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Tiger Prowl 1.0 caused such a stir last spring because it was something no one had seen before. Or at least cared about.

Football coaches riding around in a stretch hummer limo, visiting high schools across the state was different. And while some of us might have thought it was silly, the kids didn’t. And that’s all that really matters.

Big Cat Weekend was just as “ground breaking” in the “hype” category because of the buzz it created, both good and bad — which, at its essence, is the nature of the game.

As long as people are talking, your program is out there. The more it’s out there, the more people will notice, and talk. Simple.

Now, throw in Tiger Prowl II. Trade the limo for an RV and watch the magic happen.

And it’s not just a football thing this time. It’s an athletic department thing.

Barbee and women’s head coach Nell Fortner are making the rounds with the RV as part of the Tigers Unlimited — Auburn’s fundraising arm — hoopla. With stops in Mobile, like the one Monday, Montgomery today, then Birmingham and Huntsville on Wednesday and Thursday, Auburn is trying to paint the state orange and blue.

Whether you’re a Tiger fan or not, when you see that big ol’ bus rolling up I-65, you’ll notice. You might even honk. Or make another gesture.
Regardless, you’ll notice.

Everyone will.

Get it? Auburn does.

MIKE SZVETITZ is sports editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He may be reached at mszvetitz@oanow.comor 737-2513.

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