As the 2012 season approaches, the Auburn critics are casting their stones as hard as they possibly can. Gene Chizik will never win without Cam Newton. The only reason they won the 2010 BCS Championship was because of a $200,000 investment. Take away the 2010 season and Chizik has won just over five games per season.
This is the perception for many fans and critics. However, in this instance, perception is not the reality. Currently, I have Auburn with another eight-win season. Although I do believe that could rise very quickly depending on how fast the Tigers respond to their new coordinators.
Despite a projected mediocre season, I believe the Tigers are clearly on the right path and the benefits are sure to follow.
The critics want you to believe the demise of the Tigers is at hand. It will take a decade for them to rebound. While this view point has a strong following, they will be heartbroken when the Tigers are once again a top 10 football team in 2013.
Yes the talent on the Plains is young, but they are full of potential and now have the staff to bring out the best in them.
The offensive gimmicks for the Tigers is going to be minimal, and for good reason. The new Auburn football team will win with defense and Brian VanGorder's history makes me a believer. VanGorder was a large part of the dominance of the University of Georgia during the beginning of the Mark Richt era.
Richt was known as an offensive juggernaut, but the Bulldogs won with defense. The turnaround for the Georgia defense under VanGorder was quick and fierce. In his first season in Athens, the Bulldogs improved to No. 18 in the nation in scoring and fifth in rush defense.
Year Two would be a signature season for VanGorder. His Bulldogs defense would finish the season first in the SEC in scoring defense and fourth nationally. As a result, the Bulldogs finished the season 13-1 and No. 3 in the nation.
VanGorder was making a name for himself on the big stage on his way to be named Valvoline Southern Sports Tonight Assistant Coach of the Year.The Bulldogs defense would be even better in 2003 as they finished No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense and fourth in total defense. VanGorder would once again reap the benefits of his stout defense, winning the Frank Boyles Assistant Coach of the Year award.
Here is the part that has to have Tiger fans foaming at the mouth—he did this with less natural talent than the Tigers have been recruiting since he arrived. Yes, he turned those Georgia players into elite defensive players but they were less heralded than many of the Tiger players coming out of high school. For example, no one knew who eventual three-time All-American David Pollack was.
With Reuben Foster, Carl Lawson, Dee Liner and Trey Johnson already in the 2013 class, Auburn could soon have the top defense in the state.
The Auburn offense still has plenty of gaping holes. However, this Auburn defense will keep them in closer games this season and win games next season. Consider this, Auburn gave up 30 points or more seven times last season. Not only did the Bulldogs have a 42-10 record in VanGorder's four seasons, but only twice did they lose by more than one touchdown.
Moreover, the defense only gave up more than 30 points once in his entire stint. Things are changing fast on the Plains but this will be a formula for long-term success.
The only potential difficulty is keeping VanGorder on campus more than a few years. He has a history of moving on quickly.
VanGorder’s bend-but-not-break defensive philosophy will frustrate fans at times. However, it will lead to the Tigers' overall success. It is unlikely that the Tigers offense will ever be as productive as they were with Cam Newton and Gus Malzahn. The good news is that with VanGorder, they will not need it.