One is Gary Patterson, who got his predictable turn in the
The problem with Patterson is that--also like Tubby--he's rarely been able to get his offense efficient enough to take the team over the top. Two conference titles in eight years of Conference USA and Mountain West competition doesn't exactly make me confident we'd be winning the SEC any time soon under him. His defensive prowess means there's only so far Auburn would slide under his watch, but if we're going to take a mid-major coach, Gill seems to have substantially more potential.
Speaking of Gill, the weirdness of the world of coaching searches means his eventual destination could have been decided in part by this guy ...
Well, the guy on the left. That's Skip Holtz, who today told Syracuse thanks-but-no-thanks on their $12 million offer to become the Orange's next head coach.
First, consider the following syllogism*:
1. Holtz coaches at a successful and rising mid-major program
2. Holtz has not been hired away as of today by another, larger school
3. Auburn will interview any coach at a successful and rising mid-major program that has not been hired away as of today by another, larger school
Ergo, Auburn will interview Skip Holtz. It's going to happen. It may have already happened. There's a HOT RUMOR in my inbox to precisely this effect, not that--because of the syllogism above--we would need it. Just so you're aware.
However, I don't think Holtz can be taken seriously as a candidate--the guy flunked out of his South Carolina OC stint and for all ECU's steady improvement the Pirates have still only gone 29-21 on his watch--which makes the bigger development this: Auburn now has competition if it wants Gill's services. We know Syracuse has interviewed with him. We're fortunate, frankly, he apparently doesn't have an offer on the table yet; if I'd have been Syracuse, I'd have named Gill the new head man the moment Robinson took the last box out of the office. He's the sexiest candidate they've got and the 'Cuse have to be getting a little desperate now that Edsall and Holtz have each turned them down.
In the meantime, what we're hearing is that Auburn is making Gill "jump through quite a few hoops" in his pursuit of the Auburn job, which, sadly, sounds like the sort of thing our administration would do. (I've also heard RUMORS to this effect as well.) If the Orange come across with an offer tomorrow, what are the odds Gill takes it and says "To hell with you guys"? Probably not bad, unfortunately. Not bad at all.
I posit that this would not be the worst thing in the world, particularly if it forces Auburn to go all-in with Johnson, or in a somewhat less likely scenario, Kelly. But it also means that Auburn's margin for error has been cut dramatically. Before, if Auburn was going to continue to ignore Leach and prove unable to pry Johnson out of Atlanta and Kelly out his Notre Dame dreams, well, I could live with that since Gill wasn't going to turn us down to stay at Buffalo under almost any scenario. But if Gill's out of the picture, no Johnson and no Kelly and no Leach means ... who? Fisher? Patterson? Spurrier? Garner? A mid-major coach whose name they drew out of a hat? I'm not particularly fond of any of these solutions. Damn you, Skip Holtz!
I maintain: the time for freaking out is when the hire is made and not before. But Auburn does not have the luxury of being patient now, unfortunately. The game has changed.
*I never actually took logic in college, so I may not have this exactly right.