Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Works, Digging in the Dirt-style

OK, so my developing musical tastes back in junior high didn't exactly mark me as the second coming of Lester Bangs, but at least I can say they improved pretty quickly: the third album I ever bought was this one, and it's held up a good bit better than ... that other stuff. Partly because of this track--

--which seemed appropriate as Auburn fans dig through the dirt of speculation, rumor, doubletalk, and the occasional crumb of hard news to figure out who ought to be and who will be our next head coach. Also: the image of HELP rising out of the soil at the 3:43 mark ... I mean, if you want to know what it looks like inside Fail Jacobs's head at the moment, that's it. (Also: this video just rocks. In some cases, it really is true they don't make 'em like they used to.)

You mentioned doubletalk? Yes, as in what Jimbo Fisher was spouting left and right at his Montgomery Quarterback Club appearance last night. You have to give Jimmy Sexton some modicum of credit--his guys do weasel words better than anyone's. To wit:
(T)here's nothing to talk about. I mean, Auburn's a great place. I've always had such respect for it and I've loved my time there, but there has never been any contact from my aspect to Auburn or Auburn's aspect to me, or with my agent. And it's a moot point. I mean, I have a lot of respect for them and all that, but there's nothing … everyone kept asking me down in Tallahassee, 'Why don't you make a statement?' Well, you don't make a statement when there's nothing there. There's no statement to make. And I wish them their best on their endeavors of where they're going for a head coach, because it's an outstanding program Like I said, there's a lot of people I care about and a lot of good friends I have there. They'll make a good choice, I know ... I am very content to be at Florida State. I'm happy to be at Florida State. We're a program that's on the rise. We're recruiting well. We improved from last season. I'm really looking forward to being there next year.
Fans: Say "I'm going to be at Florida St. next season."
Fisher: OK, I'm planning on being at Florida St. next season.
Fans: That's not what we asked you to say. Why won't you say what we asked you to say?
Fisher: There'd be no point in making any other statement. You're just being silly.
Fans: But you didn't say where you would be next season!?!
Fisher: I plan on being at Florida St.
Fans: *heads explode*

For the record: my default position from here on out is that any and all clients of Jimmy Sexton's who are rumored to be in the running for Auburn's job are not actually in the running and that this is all a Sextonesque ruse--Fisher included. Particularly since Florida St. doesn't sound at all like they're worried about losing him.

Gill. He became the first (I would say) "serious" official interviewee yesterday, and given how little traction any other candidate seems to be gaining, he's not just the frontrunner, he's a clear frontrunner at this point. I don't know if he's actually the only coach capable of keeping Auburn from the abyss--the deafening silence on Paul Johnson could very well mean the opposite of what you'd think it would mean--but the stock arrow is still climbing. I guess Tony Barnhart would be surprised.

As stated previously, I'd be satisfied with a Gill hire, but not ecstatic. Mostly for the reasons expounded upon in that post, but there's something else to consider, from Mr. SEC:
(T)here’s one big question that folks would have to ask about Turner Gill: Why didn’t Tom Osborne, his old coach, hire him to run the Nebraska program last year… rather than outsider Bo Pelini?
That question's kinda answered by Pelini's popularity with the Husker faithful and substantially greater level of experience, but it doesn't explain why Gill was passed over repeatedly for the offensive coordinator's position. Remember: the reason Gill wound up with the Packers on his way to Buffalo was because he couldn't get hired as a coordinator. Why not?

My guess would be: his X's and O's are probably good--witness Buffalo's sound offenses--but not great. This won't matter much if he's able to make a knock-your-socks-off hire at OC for Auburn, but I do think it's something to consider.

Garner. Still can't imagine he's a serious candidate for the head job, but a) perhaps it's helping lay the groundwork for some position or another at Auburn under New Auburn Head Coach b) Auburn's already getting some much-welcome positive PR out of it, so I think we can give the Auburn admin a thumbs-up for this, at least.

Then again, the public interviews of candidates who would be, as War Eagle Atlanta harshly-but-fairly dubbed them, "Mike Shula hires" only enhances the perception that Auburn's set sail up a certain fecal creek without means of propulsion. It's a two-part argument: first, that there's "nobody out there" worthwhile in the coaching pool, and second, that the Auburn admin doesn't have a plan to find anyone who is.

The first part, I believe, is blatantly false. Mike Leach, Brian Kelly, Paul Johnson: all three have impeccable program-building resumes and Auburn can offer all three both more ca$h and a better, stronger potential program than the ones they currently coach. Hell, pretty much everyone believes by this point Leach wouldn't just accept the job, he asked for it. Turner Gill will come if we ask him to. So will Charlie Strong. I don't think the world of Gary Patterson, but SEC teams have settled for worse before. The candidates are out there.

The question is whether Auburn will find them, and at this stage it seems like a very fair question indeed--I like Gill, but even his stunning charisma doesn't explain why we're fixated on a coach who had to get supremely lucky to go 8-5 in the MAC while not even returning the calls of the coach who went 11-1 in the Big 12 South. To date, confidence has not been inspired.

Then again, Alabama had just been turned down by Jim Leavitt when Nick Saban showed up. Michigan was talking about living with Brady Hoke when Rich Rodriguez fell into their lap. Auburn isn't quite the draw 'Bama and Michigan are, but the point holds: the coaching search ain't over 'til it's over. I think we all--certainly yours truly included--could probably stand to remember this as this thing grinds on.

Will. On the search: read.

Sigh. Not that you needed any further confirmation that this was the Season of DEATH, but Auburn landed just one player on the All-SEC first and second teams, Antonio Coleman. I think Sen'Derrick Marks--the only other Tiger to even make honorable mention--has a gripe, but it's hard to pick out anyone else who I think was honestly wronged, particularly when the defensive competition is stout enough that Rennie Curran's on the second team and Greg Hardy's sharing time with Marks in the honorable mention category. Maybe Clinton Durst--getting Auburn to third in the conference in net punting should have been worth honorable mention, I'd argue.

Dude, they're angrier about it than you are. I would encourage you, SEC fan, to really enjoy the impending Gator and Tide beatdowns in the BCS bowls, because man, I don't see a whole lot of win elsewhere. Georgia, maybe, but Ole Miss's secondary against Texas Tech? Vandy's O against BC's D? Cratering South Carolina against rising Iowa? Ugh.

But no matter how disappointed you are with the SEC's decline this season, I guarantee you it's nowhere near as disappointed as the officials at the Independence Bowl are. Located in Shreveport as it may be, any bowl with this kind of classic in its long and respectable history--

--shouldn't have to resort to pairing up Louisiana Tech and Northern Illinois in what's obviously the worst pairing on the entire bowl slate, one so noxious even ESPN's mid-major guy admits "there isn't a whole lot of appeal for this game unless you're a Louisiana Tech or Northern Illinois fan." Just don't look at us, Independence Bowl officials--Tennessee's the team that lost to Wyoming.


1 comment:

gerry dorsey said...

to call pelini a nebraska "outsider" is stretching it a bit. he may not be as "inside" as gill, but the dude has a bowl win as the interim coach at nebraska. i'd say that qualifies as familiar at the very least.