Yesterday I linked to the ESPN story in which Barkley got his gripe on, but I didn't comment too much on it because from my Auburn and Sir Charles fan's perspective, it wasn't that big a deal. Auburn hired a white guy who has a head coaching of failure over a black guy Barkley had championed personally with a head coaching record of smashing success. Of course he going to spout off. If I'd been able to find a bookie giving me odds on "Barkley accuses Auburn administration of racism for passing on Gill by, say, Tuesday" over the weekend, I'd have picked up some very easy cash for myself.
I figured it'd make some national headlines and everyone back home would shrug it off as Charles being Charles, and then we'd move on. The bigger deal from where I sat was that here, in case you were wondering, was the proof that Auburn had indeed made a very difficult bed for itself it was about to lie in until such time Chizik wins or Jacobs is forced out.
Unfortunately, when your college football team hires a head coach who's gone 5-19 in his two-year head coaching career, cleaning up the messes left behind might be even more difficult than we'd think. The race-baiting rumors have exploded "at home and abroad," we might say, and Jay Jacobs's initial effort at tamping them down yesterday, as Orson and Blutarsky have pointed out, left juuuuuuust a bit to be desired*. End result: Tony Barnhart answers the question "Did race play a factor in the Auburn decision?" by writing "I hope that it didn't." Houston, we have a serious image problem.
That doesn't mean it's not an entirely predictable serious image problem--the bed I mentioned, the lying in, etc.--but that doesn't mean it's fair, exactly, either. Because I don't really have much doubt about in making the following statement: Race was not the reason Turner Gill wasn't hired as Auburn's head football coach. Fail Jacobs was apparently under any number of misapprehensions during this coaching search, but I think it's still safe to say that one of them was not that his job isn't on the line here. You know it, I know it, he knows it. You're telling me that even if he believed Gill would win more football games at Auburn, he'd willingly put his dream job at increased risk just because he's that opposed to interracial marriage?
As Dr. Saturday said earlier this week: Auburn couldn't afford to be racist. I can't believe that anything mattered more to any of the principals involved than winning Auburn football games. If FJ&TPTB believed that Turner Gill represented Auburn's best chance at winning football games, I guarantee you Gill would be the head coach right now.
Besides, we don't need to make up stupid reasons why they settled on Chizik (poor, poor Gene Chizik) as their head coach--Jacobs was more than happy yesterday to give us those stupid reasons himself. Auburn's leadership: racist, no. Incompetent, yes. (Well, "probably" is more accurate since we don't know how well Chizik will actually fare this fall and his success would, obviously, earn them some brownie points.)
On a personal note, I'm sick of writing "everything sucks" posts like there. We'll have something happier tomorrow.
*To be fair to Jacobs, I think it's entirely possible that in his preparation for the press conference he hadn't yet heard Barkley's comments before he was asked about them. So his sort of knee-jerk, evasive response might be borne out of confusion more than anything.