Sunday, January 04, 2009

Coaching update

Yes please.

So, your first bit of Auburn coaching news: Oklahoma St. running backs coach Curtis Luper is now Auburn running backs coach Curtis Luper. In your face, Boone Pickens. Why the lateral move? He called Chizik--with who he worked as a grad assistant way back at Stephen F. Austin--"my mentor," so I guess it was just that easy. (Well, that and offering him a huge raise.) No issues with the resume, certainly, given the way Okie St. has run the ball the last couple of years.

But Chizik's efforts to raid Stillwater might have landed an even bigger fish on the hook: he's asked for and received permission to talk to Trooper Taylor. Taylor, I'm sure I don't have to tell you, was seen as one of the SEC's brightest young coaching prospects when he was at Tennessee and Okie St.'s success this year hasn't exactly hurt his stock. If Chizik can get him to Auburn ... I mean, Malzahn's schemes with Taylor's wideouts? The mind reels and the heart leaps. Our Tigers would go from having one of the SEC's most dysfunctional offensive coaching staffs to one of its most dynamic overnight.

The question, of course, is whether Taylor will show up. Having Luper around can't hurt, but we can be frank: this is a lateral move for him at best, and I do mean "at best." At OSU he's a receivers coach-slash-co-OC who doesn't call plays; at Auburn, he will be, at most, a receivers coach-slash-co-OC who doesn't call plays. And now is pretty much the best possible time to be at Stillwater--the bowl game crash-n'-burn and potential pro defections notwithstanding, everyone returns and if Tech, Oklahoma, and Texas come back to earth a bit, there's no real reason State couldn't be what Missouri was in 2007. Or more. Unless Auburn can also offer Taylor a big raise (which they may be able to do) or Taylor and Luper are seriously tight, I can't see why he'd come. And that's not even considering that Randy Shannon and Miami may be offering him the full OC's chair and play-calling position, which certainly seems like Taylor's logical next move.

But hey, at least we've got our foot in the door. And here's the even better news: Gene Chizik has once again shown that, Approved by Pat Dye list be damned, he's going to go out and try to hire the best guys he can. Even if we don't get Taylor, my faith that Chizik will fill out his staff with quality coaches has never been higher. The stock arrow continues to point upward.

UPDATE: Evan Woodberry was doing work this morning, providing a terrific on-the-scene report as both Luper and Taylor arrived on the Plains aboard the same plane from Oklahoma. Woodberry got a whole bunch of thrilling quotes from Luper, the most titillating one being this:
Would Luper like to be joined in Auburn by Taylor? "Absolutely. That's why he's on the airplane right here. You'll see how good of a recruiter I am pretty soon, I hope."
Fingers crossed. Also of note: Luper said he'd probably eventually recruit Texas, which on the one hand ... is it really the best strategy for Auburn to go head-to-head with Texas and Oklahoma and the thousand other D-I schools out there? Terry Bowden tried that in Florida once upon a time and it didn't work out so well. On the other hand, Luper has a track record, and if he really can pull Texas athletes out of there and bring them to Auburn, that's going to be a Very Good Thing. And on the third hand, I don't have that much of a clue when it comes to recruiting.

Woodberry also gives us this awesome little slice-of-Auburn-life:
A couple of fans were on hand to greet the two coaches. One yelled "War Eagle" as the coaches left the plane.

A few minutes later, I overhead Luper ask, "What exactly does 'War Eagle' mean?" An Auburn staffer explained that it was both a cheer and a greeting or salutation, and he could simply reply, "War Eagle!" in response.

Both Luper and Taylor took the time to shake hands with the fans, and Luper gave a "War Eagle" yell as he departed.
War Eagle, coach.

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