Is It Time for Auburn To Fire Gene Chizik?
Should Auburn make a coaching change at the end of the year?
By: Steven Lassan | 10/10/12, 6:30 AM EDT
Auburn is off to a miserable 1-4 start and the pressure is beginning to build on coach Gene Chizik. Since winning the 2010 national championship, the Tigers are just 9-9 and struggled to beat Louisiana-Monroe earlier this year. Is it time for Auburn to make a coaching change?
Is It Time for Auburn to Fire Gene Chizik?
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
Firing a coach two years removed from a national title would be unprecedented. Even Larry Coker got three subpar (for Miami) years and five after his national title. I could see a case to be made for letting the two new coordinators, Scot Loeffler and Brian Van Gorder, have another year to implement their systems, but Auburn has to ask itself if the national championship year was due more to Cam Newton and Gus Malzahn than any buttons Gene Chizik pushed in 2010. Take away the Newton season from Chizik’s career, and this is a coach who has struggled at Auburn despite strong recruiting classes and at Iowa State, where Paul Rhoads has built a competitive program after Chizik left. Barring an unlikely turnaround this season, 2013 will be an extremely difficult year, both with the Auburn faithful on Chizik’s back and on a recruiting trail that is already dominated by Alabama.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
Gene Chizik has done a horrendous job at Auburn the last two seasons. His average national recruiting ranking in the last three classes is 8.0 — meaning, only five teams in the nation have recruited "better" than the Tigers over the last three cycles. So the lack of overall production and development from that level of talent is completely unacceptable. As a comparison, Arkansas, who is having its worst season in years and just stomped Auburn at Jordan-Hare, has an SEC average recruiting ranking (9.7) worse than Auburn's national rank. Auburn ranks last in the SEC in total offense, scoring offense, passing efficiency, rushing defense and turnover margin. But despite my absolute disgust in Chizik — who is 22-33 as a head coach and 7-12 in the SEC without Cam Newton — my conservative roots pertaining to coaching changes say no to making a coaching change immediately. By the end of the season, I will be singing a different tune, but it does this program no good to fire Chizik in Week 7. Dissension in the coaching ranks, turmoil off the field, atrocious play on the field all point to an eventual change on the Plains, but with seven games still left to play, that time isn't now.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
Yes, I think Auburn needs to make a coaching change at the end of the season. Gene Chizik has recruited as well as anyone in the SEC but outside of going 14-0 and winning a national championship, he is a mediocre 17-14 and could easily be 0-5 this year. Let’s not forget a 5-19 record at Iowa State, which looks even worse now after Paul Rhoads went 12-13 in the two seasons after his departure. While winning the BCS title in 2010 should buy him some time, Auburn hasn’t gotten any better over the last two years. The offense has regressed since last season, and the defense – Chizik’s strongsuit – ranks 12th in the SEC in yards allowed, ninth in pass defense and last against the run. When you are bringing in top 10-15 recruiting classes and those players aren’t producing, it’s a clear sign the coaching staff isn’t getting the job done. Giving Chizik another year would only prolong the inevitable and force Auburn to wait until 2014 to start turning the program back in the right direction.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
It’s easy to make an argument that Gene Chizik is not getting it done as the head coach at Auburn. His record in three-plus seasons with the Tigers is 31–14 overall and 15–12 in the SEC. But when you remove the national championship season of 2010, his record isn’t so impressive — 17–14 overall and 7–12 in league play. It might not seem fair to remove that one season, but it’s clearly an outlier when you look at his entire career. In five full seasons as a head coach (three at Auburn and two at Iowa State), Chizik has only lost less five games overall once (in 2010) and lost less than four conference games once (in ’10). While Chizik has a national title on his resume, he hasn’t shown that he can be a championship coach on a consistent basis. He was the head coach of the team that won the crown, but that title was more about Cam Newton and Gus Malzahn than Gene Chizik. That being said, Chizik probably deserves one more season as the boss at Auburn. He has recruited very well in recent years — though there has been quite a bit of attrition — and should have the opportunity to coach this young core for one more season. It’s a tough call for the Auburn administration, which is dealing with a demanding fan base with a short memory.
Things have certainly not gone like any one associated with the program had hoped or even expected, but I don't think it's time to pull the plug on Gene Chizik... yet. There's no doubt this season is a lost cause, as the extremely disappointing showing last Saturday against Arkansas cemented that, but this doesn't mean that the team can't start building for next year now. The quarterback is young, inexperienced and having to learn and adapt to a completely different offensive system, and do his on-the-job training in the toughest conference in college football. That's a tall task in and of itself, but when you ask him to do this behind an equally young and inexperienced offensive line on a team devoid of play makers, I don't think anyone's really surprised the Tigers are 113th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense and 117th in scoring offense. Still I would give Chizik and the staff the rest of this year to continue teaching the players the new offense and also work on fixing the defensive issues. Obviously there's a lot to work on, but there are still seven games to go, five of these being conference ones. If the team can find a way to finish the rest of season with a 4-3 mark, which would mean at minimum two SEC wins, that has to be considered progress. Then you can evaluate the coaching staff after the season. However, if the bottom drops out and the Tigers finish the year winless in the SEC and with only two or three victories overall, then a coaching change is more than likely a matter of when and not if.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I think there may be a change on the Plains after this season, even though Auburn power brokers like Pat Dye seem to swear by Gene Chizik. The biggest issue for me when analyzing the Tigers program is that it seems lost, without an identity. The AU defense should eventually get better under Brian VanGorder, but why has Chizik (a proven coordinator at Auburn and Texas) had trouble on that side of the ball as a head coach? And then there is the Tigers offense, which ranks as the worst in the SEC and 113th in the nation. Scot Loeffler has no answer at quarterback, and his offense only scored seven points against an Arkansas defense that had been torched in four straight Razorback losses.
Many in the media give Chizik and staff credit for quality recruiting rankings, but that potential is not playing out on the field. Too many of Auburn’s “high-star” recruits have left school or have struggled to play up to their potential. The Arkansas debacle makes it very likely that the Tigers miss the postseason, and the AU fan base may not stand for that in year four of the Chizik regime.
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