Auburn Football: Program Needs Major Overhaul to Get Back on Track

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2012

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 6:  Onterio McCalebb #23 of the Auburn Tigers drops a wide open pass against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Auburn, Alabama.  The Razorbacks defeated the Tigers 24-7.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder might be a swell guy and a solid football coach, but after allowing Ole Miss to put up 41 points and 451 yards of total offense, his words ring hollow (h/t Columbus Ledger-Enquirer):

Our goal is to become the best in the country on defense. I know it's a process. But we're getting ourselves ready to play in big games in the future, and what we do right now is vitally important -- it is key what we do right now in building it. We're evaluating to see if we're right to make that chase and pursue that, but that's the mission.

It's a worthy goal to have, and you wouldn't expect a football coach to walk into his locker room and tell his players, "Guys, be mediocre today! Let's try to be just above average!"

But it's obvious that nobody's buying what VanGorder is selling; it's obvious that really, outside of LB Daren Bates, the Tigers defense doesn't have the horses needed to compete on a weekly basis in the SEC.

Head coach Gene Chizik, another swell guy and one who was already on the hot seat, now looks at a schedule that has one conference game left that the Tigers have a realistic shot of winning—next week against Vanderbilt.

His seat has officially started to melt.

Even if the Tigers beat the Commodores, finishing the season with only one win in the SEC is not an acceptable result—especially for a program with as storied a history as Auburn.

In many ways, the Tigers are quite a bit like the New York Jets.

Both teams have a mediocre pocket passer (Clint Moseley and Mark Sanchez), a QB who is more dangerous with his legs than his arm (Kiehl Frazier and Tim Tebow), and a defense that can't stop the run—Auburn ranks 93rd out of 120 teams allowing 191.5 rushing yards per game, the Jets 31st in the NFL, giving up 172.4 yards on the ground per contest.

Both teams are struggling, and both head coaches may be looking for work in 2013.

Chizik has a hefty buyout on his contract, but as Kevin Scarbinsky of notes, it's not as steep as some believe:

As is standard, Chizik’s buyout decreases over time, but it decreases monthly. Here are the annual round figures for the buyout:

Dec. 1, 2011: $10 million.
Dec. 1, 2012: $7.5 million.
Dec. 1, 2013: $5 million.
Dec. 1, 2014: $3.5 million.

Those are just snapshots because the buyout decreases monthly on a prorated basis. According to the contract, this year and next year it drops by $208,334 a month.

Scarbinsky also notes that it's not a lump-sum payment, rather monthly payments—payments that would decrease by the amount of his new salary were he to be let go by Auburn and land a new job, which is highly likely.

So that excuse is out the window. Ridding themselves of Chizik wouldn't be a crushing financial blow to the program—a program that needs an overhaul.

It's time for the powers that be at Auburn to make the right decision.

Blow the thing up, clean house and start over.

Doing anything less would be like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg.

It would only delay the inevitable and prolong the agony.