Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Feedback, 12/9 (now with Olive Tuberville discussion!)

As you might imagine, the comments section here at the JCCW has been positively brimming lately, what with Tommy Tuberville departing as Auburn's head football coach in mysterious and ill-defined circumstances and the subsequent search for his replacement devolving into the quagmire of rumor and innuendo we all knew was coming. Yes, Auburn fans are, in fact, interested in these developments. So for those of you who haven't been clicking through to the comments, I'm going to pull a few out and offer a few responses for your reading pleasure to help burn off a few more minutes until the end of the work day.

We start with this post yesterday on the Garner and Nix interviews, which drew a couple of responses wondering aloud if maybe Garner wasn't really being interviewed for the head coaching position, but for the defensive coordinator's role under whoever does become the new coach. Acid Reign put it like this:
.....You have to wonder if "The Powers that Be" are planning to try and force Garner on whomever the new coach turns out to be. "You're hired, and Rodney Garner IS your defensive coordinator. Period." It wouldn't surprise me. And we KNOW Garner wants to move up.

.....Garner's recruiting prowess is proven, I think. He joined Dye's staff on the downhill slide, and got guys like Frank Sanders, James Bostic, Stephen Davis, Dameyune Craig, Takeo Spikes, Willie Anderson, Wayne Gandy, Anthony Redmond, Victor Riley, Karsten Bailey, Robert Baker, and the list goes on.

.....When Bowden tried to move Garner off the field, he jumped to Tennessee. Within three years, UT had ramped up their talent level, won two SEC titles, beat Florida and got a BCS crystal trophy. Then, Garner jumped to Georgia, and UT slid back down into mediocrity.

.....Garner's track record at Georgia speaks for itself, too. He's been a D-line coach for the entirety of the Richt's tenure, and I think he's probably ready to try his hand at running a defense.

.....I wouldn't think Garner's ready for a shot as a head coach at a BCS school, but you never can tell.
As I've said a couple of times now, I seriously doubt Garner's actually in the running for the head job, but the hypothetical "Garner comes aboard as the DC" scenario is worth discussing. The first question to ask is if Garner would be willing to make the jump out of Athens; given his oft-stated goal of becoming a head coach and how useful the Auburn DC position has been in achieving that goal in recent years, I can't imagine he wouldn't.

The other questions are thornier. Would the New Auburn Head Coach be willing to start off his Auburn tenure by accepting a mandate from on high about who his DC would be? My completely uninformed guess would be it depends on the coach--someone well-established like Johnson or (sigh) Fisher would likely have the capital to demand their own guy on their own terms, but for an up-and-comer like Gill, Auburn might--might--represent the kind of opportunity he'd be willing to make certain concessions to take advantage of. That Garner is in much the same situation Gill found himself in for so long--position coach and recruiter extraordinaire unable to nab a coordinator's chair of his own--would also probably make Gill a little more amenable. Then again, a new DC means Gill would be abandoning current DC Jimmy Williams, an old Nebraska friend who came with Gill to Buffalo three years ago. Assuming Buffalo didn't want to hand Williams their vacant head coaching gig ... awkward.

Nonetheless, this is the biggest question: would this be a good idea? As AR points out, Garner's presence would undoubtedly be a huge boon to Auburn's recruiting, and it's not like he hasn't had time to learn the defensive coaching ropes by now. The problem is that the last couple of years he's been learning the ropes from the coach Georgia fans see as most responsible for this year's failings. If Garner did deserve to be passed over when Martinez was hired to replace Brian VanGorder back in 2004, what's changed between now and then? What if Garner couldn't hack it?

It would be a gamble. But given the inevitable upside (and maybe necessity) of hiring a recruiter of Garner's stature to help (one would assume) a head coach with few-to-no recruiting ties in the area, it seems a gamble well worth taking. If New Auburn Head Coach will approve, so will the JCCW.

Further talk about the future of Auburn's defense comes from commenter Harrison, who left the following in response to the Gill profile:
i feel you jerry, but i dont understand your worry about the defensive statistics of gill's team. i mean, paul rhoads hasnt left, has he? and it was the offensive assistants that were under fire, not don dunn, terry price, or james willis.
It's certainly true that no one was calling for the defensive assistants to leave with Ensminger, Nall, and Knox, but I think the assumption has been that New Auburn Head Coach will want to bring in his own guys rather than just inheriting the old crew. Rhoads, in particular, seems likely to me to want out: he's not "settled" in Auburn the way the assistants are, has few (any?) ties to the area, and the coach who hired him is gone. Then again, I could have it backwards, since it's the other guys who'd worked with Tubby forever and may not to have to try and win the new guy's approval. Who knows?

I'll say this: if Rhoads and the other guys are willing to stay at Auburn and the New Auburn Head Coach wants to keep them around, the continuity would likely be a huge help during the transition year. I'd prefer both of these scenarios--Garner, Rhoads--for the DC position substantially more than Gill plugging Williams into the spot, that's for sure, and the more Tubby defensive assistants that do stick around, the better.

We had dueling comments in response to the Jimbo Fisher profile, one from Brandon that suggested Fisher would bolt for Auburn if offeres, the other coming from Kevin Donahue of Fanblogs fame. Although disagreeing with my take on the likelihood of Fisher accepting a potential Auburn offer, Kevin's comment was good news for those of us unsold on Fisher's candidacy:

Jerry - respectfully... there is absolutely no chance in Hades that Jimbo comes to Auburn. Let's explore....

1- Jimbo has wanted to be at FSU his entire life. A classic shot of Fisher on the sidelines as a QB at Samford wearing an Noles ballcap is the only proof I can offer above his own words for the past three years.

2- Jimbo is a Bowden, for all intents and purposes. He's played for a Bowden and coached with two. Taking over for Bobby may seem like losing battle, but for Jimbo it is almost like succeeding his own father.

3- If money were his goal, Jimbo could get as much (possibly more, I'm not sure) by staying at FSU. Forget the buyout, Jimbo is guaranteed a top salary in two years when he takes over for Bowden. His contract is rumored to be guaranteed at $3.5 for 10 years. Cha-ching.

4- Perhaps above all, Jimbo has an extremely close friendship with Terry Bowden. To even interview with Auburn would be a serious affront to his longtime friend and mentor.

There are probably other reasons, but I can't think of them right now.
Those are enough for me, particularly considering how tall a hurdle that buyout must be in the wake of paying Tubby, Franklin, Borges, other assistants, new assistants, etc. I think Auburn fans can probably chalk Fisher's non-denial denials as Jimmy Sexton-planned intrigue for the sake of intrigue, and safely assume Auburn's next head coach will be someone else.

In response to this Works post from last Friday, Sean writes the following:
My problem with the administration isn’t the tepid support which likely caused Tuberville to decide he was better off leaving this year than getting canned next year. I think you and some others have made the case that decline was present and the, shall we say, inconsistency Tuberville’s teams displayed over a ten year period was the norm. So the cases for and against Tuberville were equally strong.

Where I think the adminstration is in the wrong is not having the cojones to fire the man and then stand up and say what he did was great, but they felt that the next step could be achieved by someone else. Instead, the administration offered little support to him and hoped he would come back so they could spend the next year looking for a coach and fire Tuberville when he lost two out of the first four games in 2009 and when they had a coach lined up and ready to go ...

... I'm not saying this isn't the norm pretty much everywhere. I just wish it wasn't
I think these are some valid points, and they're echoed in the angry post War Eagle Atlanta put up yesterday at Track'Em. Certainly, even if I stand by my contention that Jacobs wasn't a bald-faced liar at that press conference, both the administration and Tubby could have been a lot more forthright about what took place in those meetings.

But for me, exactly how angry we need to be--if at all--at Fail Jacobs and the Powers that Be* boils down to exactly how much or how little "support" they actually offered Tubby. If all they asked of Tubby was a new offensive staff and he refused to either can the BBQ crew or resign without his buyout ... to me, that's enough support. Even if the closest technical term we have to the Auburn admin buying him out at that point is "firing" him, the decision here was Tubby's--he could come back or he could stop coaching, and he chose the latter. In that sense, he "resigned." If the conditions for his return were different, however, everything changes.

It's the slipperiness of the terms we're using and the deep uncertainty about what actually went on between Jacobs and Tubby that make me awfully uneasy about handing out blanket blame to the administration and blanket absolution to Tubby. Of course, not everyone sees it that way, including the JCCW's old friends at the Capstone Report, who responded to this post defending the administration with the following:
The analysis ignores a valuable source of information(:) the O-A News story filed last night reporting the situation at the Tuberville home.

When Tuberville's mother says he was fired, you should probably believe what she says. She doesn't have a reason to play nice. Tuberville does--he looks better to posterity and future employers to behave graciously and with dignity. The way he behaves now cements his legacy in a good way.

Furthermore, Tuberville didn't accept a reduction in the buyout—it was prorated based on the months completed this year. The $5.1 million means nothing other than Auburn is paying what it would be obligated to pay him if it terminated him.

When you take two pieces of evidence, a statement from Tuberville's family and the fact Auburn is paying him—it isn't a leap of faith to say the AD lied today.
First, yeah, I screwed up the buyout thing. It was a long couple of days.

But as for Jacobs' lying ... look, it would be great if this was a simple situation that could be explained in simple words. But it's not simple. It's complicated, way, way too complicated for statements as simple as "Tubby resigned" or "Tubby got fired" to be accurate. Neither one of those reflects the truth. The truth is hiding somewhere in the icky gray murk between them, and it's probably never coming out. Jacobs wasn't honest, but he wasn't lying, either. Sometimes, the truth's just that complex, and unless someone (Tubby) offers some hard evidence about what went on in those meetings, this is one of those times.

Unless, of course, you take at face value the word of an exceedingly unbiased, completely neutral judge like Tuberville's Mom. (A word she refused to repeat, incidentally, for the benefit of the AP.) I mean, of course she's going to paint Tubby's bosses as the bad guys and her son as a victim. She's his Mom. Moms are awesome, 'cause they'll say anything if it'll make you look better or feel better. Why, I bet if you asked the Capstone Report's mothers, they'd even tell you their blog was worth reading.

*First album: Absolutely. Tracklisting: 1. "We Will Have No Constraints" 2. "Willingness and Assurances" 3. "You'd Have to Ask Tommy" 4. "The First Time I've Thought About That" 5. "What His Title May Be" 6. "Three Times of Asking" 7. "Tough Business" 8. "Dr. Richardson (When I Interviewed)" 9. "Call These Commitments" 10. "We Just Thought That Was the Best Way to Treat Him."


Hobbes said...

Rodney Garner is Auburn's version of Mike Dubose. Good position coach. "Great" recruiter. No experience as a co-ordinator (well Dubose had one year) and dumb as a plate.

If I had a ten foot pole I would touch that ten foot pole with a thirty seven and half foot pole if the ten foot pole was touching Rodney Garner.

Query: Charles Barkley is Garner's cousin, something that Garner brings up but Charles never does. Charles has endorsed Turner Gill.

Jerry Hinnen said...

An excellent question. Believe me, I'm not endorsing Garner for head coach. Just saying his recruiting prowess might make it worth Auburn's while to find out if he can be a DC ... though the Dubose comparisons, yikes.

tmc1 said...

absolutely clueless.

Rod said...

So I picked up the new Powers that Be album a couple days ago. It really sucks. It starts out ok with "We Will Have No Contraints" but really goes down hill from there.