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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Auburn not getting much respect from SI

Just got my college football preview issue of Sports Illustrated in the mail, with a big ol' picture of Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead and center Daverin Geralds on the cover, touting the Rebels as a potential party crasher to the BCS and the sixth (sixth!) ranked team in the country. That in itself is a different conversation for a different time (I, for one, don't think Ole Miss will live up to expectations this year).

ANYWAY, Sports Illustrated doesn't give Auburn too much credit.

First, the good things it had to say about the Tigers: it lauds DE Antonio Coleman as one of the first players to watch from SEC teams that didn't make the top-20.

But the magazine had plenty of not-so-great items about Auburn. For starters, it ranks the Tigers as the 65th-best team in the country. Here's where they stand in the rankings:
  • 62. Stanford
  • 63. Mississippi State
  • 64. Connecticut
  • 65. Auburn
  • 66. Vanderbilt
  • 67. Maryland
  • 68. Air Force
It should also be noted that Ohio, the alma mater of friend of the blog Andrew P. Gribble, is ranked 59th. Those are the same Bobcats who won four games last year.

The magazine also picks the Tigers to go 6-6 overall and 2-6 in the SEC, finishing in sole possession of last place in the SEC West. It predicts Auburn will play in the Liberty Bowl against UTEP. I don't think the overall record is too far off. I've gone on record as saying 7-5 and a bowl game would be a major accomplishment for a team undergoing a coaching transition and struggling in scholarship numbers.*

(* - I don't think Auburn's going to sweep its non-conference games like SI does. I think there's a very good chance the Tigers lose to West Virginia in the third week and win at least three SEC games)

But the most interesting part of SI's SEC preview page is it already lists Gene Chizik as the coach on the hot seat. "His 5-19 record at Iowa State made him an unpopular choice, but he has recruited well in the new job. Will Auburn fans give him time to turn things around?"

Now that's pretty unforgiving. The coaches on the hot seats from other BCS conferences certainly seem deserving. Here they are:
  • ACC: Al Groh, Virginia: Ahh, a coach I know well, having served as a beat writer there for four-plus years prior to moving to Auburn. Al's prickly demeanor certainly doesn't help him get any slack from boosters and fans when the team's not doing well. Neither does his 82-84 record in eight seasons.
  • Big East: Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville: He's 11-13 in two seasons, running former coach Bobby Petrino's successful program into the ground.
  • Big Ten: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: My proud alma mater has gone from 12-1 in Bielema's first season to 9-4 and then 7-6 last year. Even though I like Bielema, that's a terrible trend.
  • Big 12: Dan Hawkins, Colorado: He's 13-24 in three years in Boulder, hardly recreating the success he had at Boise State.
  • Pac-10: Paul Wulff, Washington State: He walked into a pretty untenable position and went 2-11 in his first year.
Now, Chizik doesn't really seem like he belongs on this list. Whatever you think of his time at Iowa State -- and despite the varying opinions, 5-19 is a cold, hard stat -- it would seem to me that coming to a new situation like Auburn and overhauling the staff would mean he gets a little leeway this season. Regardless of Chizik's past, already putting him on the hot seat (and I would define that as a coach who has to worry about being fired) seems a tad unfair, even at a school as demanding about its football success as Auburn. Thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Comparing CGC's record as a first time coach at a doormat school like ISU to what he's doing at Auburn is absurd!
Let's say his first gig was at Mississippi State....would expect him to win the western division?????????? That's the same situation he was at when he was at ISU.

Acid Reign said...

.....I would hope that the Auburn faithful would not want a coach fired after only a single season, unless there is misconduct involved. A half dozen injuries early in the year could spell 3-9, and not even Vince Lombardi would be able to save the season.

.....What would happen if Antonio Coleman, Craig Stevens, Walter McFadden, Lee Ziemba, Mario Fannin, and Ben Tate were all out? You wouldn't fire the head coach for that, would you?

.....Us behind Mississippi State? I really don't see that one. With only 4 starters returning on defense, on a thin offensive team installing new schemes... I think the Bulldogs will finish last in the West, not Auburn.

burnt2acrisp said...

who knows what will happen this year - remember last year there were a lot of people saying we would win the west - riiiiiiiiiiiight. and then there were others that were a lot more pessimistic, and fans ripped them a new a-hole, including me. never know til the games are played.

Walker said...

There are some eerie coincidences between this year's squad and 1993. Tate looks a lot like Bostic. We have talent but underwhelmed from the previous year. The team seems strongly committed to each other... we may even have a slow white senior QB, with a slow white Jr. backing him up. I don't think Chizik is on the hot seat. I would think he would have to win 3 games or less for anyone to consider firing him.

Anonymous said...

Unless there is some kind of uprising among the players and or coaching staff, Coach C deserves time to put his plan in action.

Andy Bitter said...

I think one of the problems for SI was that it's kind of hard to think of a coach on the hot seat in the SEC.

Who would be the leading candidates? Steve Spurrier at South Carolina? I can't think of another candidate in the conference other than him.

jdinmacon said...

I'd say Mark Richt is on the hottest seat in the SEC right now. Next would be Les Miles. Spurrier? Maybe. The Georgia faithful are starting to grumble about Richts lack of SEC or NCAA titles....if Richt loses to Tech again, it could be all over.

As a fan I have to give Chizik a free pass this year especially. I'm not saying AU will stink - but for fans dreaming of another 1993, keep dreaming - I remember that season well, and we won games that year on pure heart and a stingy defense.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Chizik is on the hotseat, but only because Auburn found out last year that none of the good coaches are interested.

Chizik took a poor ISU team that had been getting better to new lows. Being from that area, they did not think he was a good coach and were happy to trade him for Auburn's defensive coordinator.

Auburn needs to address it's booster problem before it can hope to return to glory.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Bitter. Didn't know you were a Badger. Sorry to hear that. You should be in for a tough season. They seem eminently beatable this year.

ron mexico said...

This season pretty much is on the offense. If Malzahn's system can be somewhat effective in getting our receivers open, we should be ok. We all know chizik can coach a defense, but malzahn's spread against SEC defenses is the wildcard.