After a rash of Auburn coaches taking the mic last week, over the weekend it became Jay Jacobs' turn. Jacobs did two separate Q&A's, each with accompanying newspaper article and web-based B-side extras. The OA-News's version is here and here, Andy Bitter's meatier version for for the Ledger-Enquirer here and here. The Bitter pieces, in particular, are full of interesting little nuggets. A few reactions:
--Reading comments to the OA-News like "I just know that we’re a couple years away from being the caliber team that we should be," it's pretty obvious that Jacobs has an accurate read on the situation and isn't chirping about being a handful of plays away from 8-4 or some such. That's something to be grateful for, I guess--and also explains why he might select a coach with as much of an emphasis on program-building as Gene "We Played This Many Freshmen For the Future, Did I Mention That? I Did? Chizik.
--The SEC TV money will go, in part, towards paying off the basketball arena. Fine by me, though I know if things go well for Auburn football there's going to be some raises to hand out.
--Not (not) saying I don't endorse this way of thinking, but it's still a little interesting to read Jacobs say Auburn's football players will grow "physically, mentally and spiritually" in the wake of Tony Franklin's comments about the, ahem, overabundance of religious references in the Auburn football program. Jacobs also makes several pointed references to his faith in the Ledger-Enquirer article. Fine by me, but it does give you a sense that for all the distrust and enmity between Jacobs and Tubby, this is one thing they probably had in common.
--Though speaking of Tubby, does it come as a surprise that he and Jacobs haven't spoken since Tubby left the program and that after all that "ambassador" talk, Tubby and Auburn would seem to be totally estranged at the moment? No, no it does not.
--And hey, on the topic of Tony Franklin, Bitter asks Jacobs "what you do think" about his recent comments, and Jacobs's response is basically "no comment." Unless you think "We wish Tony Franklin the best" qualifies as "comment." (It doesn't.)
--Bitter asks about the new staff's "envelope-pushing recruiting tactics," and Jacobs give an unequivocal, hearty thumbs-up. Given that Auburn was expected to self-report a couple of secondary violations after Big Cat and that Jacobs has always made a lot of noise (and makes noise here) about doing things "the Auburn way", I kind of wish he'd taken the opportunity to emphasize that "the Auburn way" will include abiding by the NCAA's recruiting rules. Not a huge deal, but just a little shading to the "Everything's swell!" response would have been appreciated.
--This sort of thinking (well, not the partkills me:
I knew that the thing that we have to do with 12 games is play, other than those eight SEC games, which are a playoff every Saturday, is that ninth game had to be a BCS opponent ... we’ll continue to have that BCS game. And we’ll have three games that are guaranteed home games, because … you can’t go through 12 weeks of playing SEC caliber schools.Emphasis added, because you'll notice that Jacobs isn't arguing in favor of a precise number of home games--7 or 8, it doesn't matter, because if we're going to play a BCS school of any real quality, there's going to be 7 every other year anyway. The venue isn't really the issue. The quality of the opponent is. What Jacobs wants is three guaranteed wins every year, because apparently nine real games is enough for him. Meaning, as we've suspected all along, that shirking UCLA isn't about the extra home game or the revenue--it's about taking the gutless way out and not asking our football team to play two genuine non-conference opponents. Because Auburn's playing Clemson at home in 2010, they still would have had seven home games, same as they will in 2011, same as they will in 2013 (we would expect), same as Alabama had in 2007 and 2008 and will have in 2009 and 2010. Sorry, but as long as Jacobs is making this clear that his scheduling aim is one real team and three patsies, he can talk about the revenue and community and experience until he's blue in the face--he's scheduling like a coward.
(Even on the ca$h front, I'd love to know if the "$3 or $4 million" figure he cites as home game revenue is gross or net. Because if it's gross, once you take out the $1 million price tag for the tomato can's appearance fee, the financial difference isn't even all that great any more.)
--Beard-Eaves is going to face the wrecking ball. I don't think anyone's going to spill many tears over it.
--It's nice to read the A.D. offer up a boilerplate line like "(Chizik’s going to recruit student-athletes with character first, those that can compete academically and athletically" and know that if the "athletically" part is still the most important part of that equation, the recruitment of kids like Chase Hughes and Tim Jackson means it's only mostly hot air.
--Kudos to Jacobs for being honest about how closely his wagon is hitched to Chizik's. I'd have expected him to say something about how many successful athletics programs Auburn has and about how the hiring of the new golf coach was just as important as hiring a football coach and blah blah blah. For my money, admitting "that's the business" and acknowledging, however subtly, that he's out of a job the moment Chizik is* is a refreshing bit of self-awareness on his part.
--Of course, that's not fair. Jacobs has overseen the ground-breaking on what should be one of the country's best basketball facilities, thus far helped maintain the ludicrously high standards of the swim program, kept the football program's status as one of Division I's biggest cash cows, seen upswings in the fortune of many of Auburn's Olympic sports, and presided over a period in which Auburn has remained nearly totally scandal-free under his watch. By any measure other than on-field success of the two lesser revenue sports and the uncertainly regarding the football program's administration, Jacobs has been a success.
And still, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. The revenue sports and the running of the football program do. I wish I could train myself and 8 bajillion other Auburn fans to think otherwise, but I can't.
--Lastly, holy crap, dude:
(R)ecently, 4½ months ago, we stared fostering two little girls, they're 4 and 2. And that's all full-time. So I've got a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, an 11-year-old, a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old. All girls in my house.Jokes regarding Jacobs's exposure to that level of estrogen and his football scheduling preferences are strictly forbidden. Even if they're funny.