Curtis Luper, Trooper Taylor, Rest of Auburn Staff Give Fans Reason For Hope

Chris MizeranyCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2009

Five wins. Seven losses.

That's all I could think about when Auburn football came to mind.

Until AD Jay Jacobs and crew hired Gene Chizik away from Iowa State. Then, my thinking was a little different.

Five wins. 19 losses. This was Coach Chizik's career record in his two years as the Cyclones' head coach.

I was certain Auburn football was doomed. It felt like a self-imposed probation.

A week or two went by while Chizik called existing commitments. He was doing his job so far.

Then, Auburn fans got good news. Linebacker coach James Willis had been retained.

Then, more good news. Coach Chizik had hired offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who directed the nation's top offense each of the last two years at Tulsa.

Now, we have a defensive coordinator in Ted Roof, who orchestrated a pretty respectable defensive turnaround at Minnesota this year.

Also added to Chizik's staff as the tight ends and special teams coach was Jay Boulware, who came from Iowa State.

While all of these hires were definite steps in the right direction, two hires have made a huge immediate impact.

Coaches Curtis Luper and Trooper Taylor were hired away from Oklahoma State to coach running backs and wide receivers, respectively. Taylor was also given the title of assistant head coach.

As soon as the dead period ended, the coaching staff hit the ground running.

First, we heard that the staff had visited Anthony Gulley, a little recruited player that seems to have potential.

Then, the staff visited a pair of highly rated defensive ends, Fletcher Cox and Ed Stinson. Stinson seems to be very high on Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, but Cox, a Mississippi State soft commit, is now considering an Auburn visit.

This news was very pleasing to Auburn fans.

Then, something happened. Our coaches started going after the cream of the crop.

Curtis Luper visited Rueben Randle, Bryce Brown, and Tyrik Rollison.

Randle is a wide receiver and the nation's number one player. Brown is a running back and the nation's number two player. Rollison is ranked as the nation's second-best dual-threat quarterback.

Now, I will state all the facts and say that Luper and Trooper were recruiting Randle and Rollison to Oklahoma State before coming to Auburn.

However, Auburn had not contacted any of these three players before Tuesday.

Two of them, Randle and Rollison, have scheduled official visits to Auburn already.

This was all done in two days. It's hard for an Auburn fan not to imagine what this new staff could do with an entire year.

What are the chances that Auburn signs any of the big three? Very slim. But that's not the point.

The point is, Auburn is calling and they are listening. This is a huge step in the right direction for a program that seemed to have lost its way.

Maybe, just maybe, one of these guys will bring us a late Christmas present with a signing day surprise.

Likely? Not very.

But, for the first time in a while, Auburn fans can hope.


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