After the joy and jubilation of 2010 and the success of The Great Cam-bino, Auburn’s 2011 season was considered disappointing despite the Chick-fil-A Bowl win.
After the departures of Michael Dyer, the other reason Auburn went undefeated in 2010, and coordinators Gus Malzahn and Ted Roof, the team and the University understood this year was going to come with a learning curve.
This season, Auburn has played the 20th-toughest schedule in the nation by win/loss percentage and has the seventh-strongest strength of schedule in the SEC.
That, combined with new coaches and young players, made for a good excuse.
The problem is, in the SEC, a team wins or loses, and the word “rebuilding” does not excuse the latter of the two.
Auburn needs to get back to a bowl next season. The only question is how to get there.
If Gene Chizik is fired as expected, the new coach will inherit a top–10 recruiting class at a large Southern football program and not much else.
A new coach most likely means new coordinators. New coordinators means new systems, more learning and a year of wasted “experience” in a system that gave Auburn its first winless eight-game SEC season ever.
There are also already reports that quarterback Jeremy Johnson, the cream of the Tigers’ offensive recruiting crop, may decommit from Auburn if Chizik is fired.
What if more recruits follow Johnson elsewhere? To Alabama?
President Jay Gogue will soon have to make a tough decision: continue Chizik’s “rebuilding” or try to rebuild the rebuilding effort.
Auburn needs wins now. Seeing how that’s not likely after the Alabama A&M game ends Nov. 17, the Tigers’ fans will have to wait for next year.
But that’s as long as they’ll wait.
Chizik or not, the head coach in 2013 must help transform a two-win team into a never-lose team by September or risk a repeat of this season.
Barring the addition of a high-profile, culture-changing coach, Auburn’s future is bleak and the fans are restless.
Football is life in the South, but fans are the business.
Gogue needs to make the right decision for Auburn’s team, the fans and its wallet, and the decision will only be right if Auburn can contend immediately in 2013.