Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hunter Ansley is a man with a woman's first name for a last name

So the topic for this week's CFN mini-roundtable is "Lane Kiffin, Gene Chizik, or Dan Mullen ... which one will make the greatest immediate impact on the SEC?"

Not surprisingly, most of the responses are "Kiffin," but "Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com" had this to say:
Lane Kiffin has the early lead in this department, but I'm going with Chizik. Tennessee will always be Tennessee ... They're a Capital One bowl team nearly every year no matter who's coaching. (O RLY?--ed.) Mississippi State has been off an on for years, and while Mullen may turn them into a semi-consistent Independence Bowl team, that's not exactly a huge impact.

But Auburn, a team that was basically in the SEC West discussion every year under Tommy Tuberville, will undergo a drastic change. I think the days of Auburn being a near lock for top 25 status are over. Is there really anyone out there that thinks Chizik's Auburn teams can compete with Nick Saban at Bama, the talent at LSU, the things Houston Nutt is doing at Ole Miss, or even the direction Bobby Petrino has Arkansas headed? That's the biggest impact I see here -- Auburn fading into obscurity.

And that fade will start immediately. After an awful year running a spread attack, they are now trying to do it again with yet another coordinator coaching the same players who just don't fit the system. If Tuberville couldn't win with this team, then I don't think Chizik can, especially when he insists on making the same mistakes.
1. First of all, the "fade" can't start immediately when it started several years ago, actually. You're saying that now that Chizik has arrived, Auburn won't be able to hang with 'Bama, LSU, Ole Miss, or Arkansas and won't be close to the top 25 ... and this is different from last year how exactly? Chizik nosediving Auburn to the dregs of, say, 5-7, 2-6 SEC--my, those numbers look familiar!--is an interesting definition of "immediate impact."

2. No, at the moment, Gene Chizik does not appear to have the coaching chops to match up with Saban or Miles, given their recruiting successes and Auburn's current program trajectory. But Nutt? The next time he puts together two consecutive good years will be the first, and it's not like Ole Miss has any kind of built-in advantages that Arkansas didn't. Speaking of which, yeah, Petrino's a great coach and I suspect the Hogs are going to be damn good this year ... but still, Arkansas as a program doesn't have any higher of a ceiling than Auburn does, and if we acknowledge that Petrino's greatest asset is his offensive genius ... well, doesn't Malzahn at least as much potential for the same? I'm not saying that we should just assume Chizik's the equal of these many fine coaches, but fine as they are it's not like Chizik's taking over, say, Baylor and looking up at Stoops, Brown, Leach, and Gundy. (And hey, even Miles now has to prove 2008 was a fluke. I think he will, but the question's out there.)

3. Do I really have to explain, again, why hiring another spread guy wasn't just a good idea for Auburn, it was downright necessary? We just went over that. So I'll just point out that the last time Auburn lined up with a more traditional offense against Alabama, it lost 36-0. Meanwhile, a few weeks later, an offense semi-similar to what Malzahn will be running scored 31 points in a 14-point victory over that same Alabama team. But Auburn should have gone with the 36-0 defeat approach over the 31-17 approach, because the former "fits" our players better. Riiiiiight.

In conclusion, do not visit draftzoo.com.

While we're discussing CFN, though, full credit that they appear to be the first mainstream media source to have provided a full preview of 2009 Auburn. Being CFN, there's nothing too incisive and there's a few minor mistakes--no, Barrett Trotter was not making a "sleeper bid" for the starting QB job, unless we all read something very, very wrong into Trotter giving up practice reps to Caudle and Burns--but it's nice to see someone in the (sort of) MSM acknowledge that the Tubby regime was at its end of days. And as "Auburn 101" goes, it's not bad, I guess.


Marcus said...

This is somewhat unrelated, but here gos. One thing I can't help but wonder about is why everyone is bailing on Kodi when he seems to be the first highly recruited QB we've had in a long time. So, I hit the free content on Rivals just to check him versus our last starter, Mr. Cox. Wow! Did you know Cox was a 4-star with offers from UF, LSU (under Saban no less), Ole Miss, and NC State? Meanwhile Kodi was a 4-star with offers from offensive juggernauts Arkansas, Texas A&M, and KSU (along with an offer from Kansas, which turns out is nothing to sneeze at and interest from OU). Anyway, who knew Cox was such a big recruit. Crazy.

reed lochamy said...

right on, jerry. right on.

Hunter Ansley said...

Sorry you didn't like my opinion. Came across your site when a friend emailed it to me.

I certainly think that Malzahn was a great hire, and likely the right one at offensive coordinator. And I agree that that may be the way to go. Having been around the SEC all of my life, I know the talent and toughness of Auburn teams.

As far as an immediate impact, I do think that the year Auburn will have in 2009 will create a bigger impact than the new hires at MSU or Tennessee. UT will have a much better record in all likelihood, but that's not exactly a new development. And I don't see MSU doing any better than probably 6-6/7-5. Again, not a huge difference from years past.

The reason I chose Auburn is because for the first time in a while, they don't appear to have much of a shot. Even during last season, they still were a breath away from beating LSU, and they were still a team that other teams had to be wary of. I just think that not having Auburn as a serious contender for 2009 is a big change in the SEC.

I wish the Tigers the best, and I think that Malzahn may save Chizik's job.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Hunter, thanks for the reasonable response, even if it makes me feel more than a bit sheepish for having been so, uh, combative.

I don't disagree with your take on Auburn, actually--if we're better by even a game, I think it'll be a decent-to-good season. But Auburn's non-contender status won't be a result of Chizik making an impact--it'll be because of the state of the program he took over.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Marcus: I knew Caudle had been a fairly high-profile recruit, but no, I didn't know that about Cox. I completely ignored recruiting at that point. Thanks!