Many Auburn fans are likely calling for the firing of Head Coach Gene Chizik and his entire coaching staff, in light of the team's awful 1-6 start.
Despite this, Chizik should be afforded the opportunity to turn this team around, and get back to where they once were. Here's why.
While this is certainly not the only issue that this Auburn team has faced so far this year, it has been extremely significant. Injuries are something that a coaching staff can't necessarily control, and they have been piling up in a hurry.
Adding to which was Chizik's announcement after Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt, that both senior TE Philip Lutzenkirchen and freshman RT Avery Young would miss the remainder of the season. Both players tried to play through the injuries that have been plaguing them throughout the season, but ended up having to shut it down.
In the college game, you can't sign veteran free agents to fill voids created by injury like you can in the NFL. When key players are lost, younger players must step into their roles, even when they're not quite ready.
There is no doubt that key players playing through, or missing time, due to injury, has been a difficult obstacle to overcome thus far.
At this time, Chizik's staff has put together a 2013 recruiting class that ESPN has ranked as the seventh best in the nation. This includes two five-star, seven four-star, and seven three-star recruits.
Having shown an ability to get a recruiting class of that quality both now and in recent seasons—provided that they don't lose any of their top commitments due to their struggles in 2012—Chizik's staff should be given the chance to see how those recruits play out.
If they are not given that chance, the possibility increases for the program to lose those future commitments.
There is something to be said for continuity in any sport, but in especially in football. The players that have committed to Auburn and are playing there currently did so under a recruitment from Gene Chizik and his staff. They chose, above the rest of their options, to play there.
In most cases, a player's allegiance will continue to be with that very coach that brought them into the fold. Thus, considering his ability to bring such talent into the program, it is Chizik who has the best chance to get that talent to produce on the field.
Just two years removed from a National Championship victory, his capabilities should not be forgotten.
While this is not a direct or on-field reason as to why Gene Chizik is still the man for the job, it provides another reason for Auburn to stick with him.
As ESPN's Mark Schlabach reports, if bought out from their current contracts, Chizik would be owed $7.5 million, and his coordinators would be owed a total of $4.085 million. Clearly, relieving them of their duties would be anything but cheap for Auburn, so giving him the opportunity to right the ship might make sense from a financial perspective, as well.
The Auburn athletic department will no doubt take the remainder of the season to evaluate the performance of Gene Chizik and the entire coaching staff. However, despite an extremely disappointing start to the season, and one of the worst in the school's history, they deserve to stay.
Having won a National Championship just two years ago, this coaching staff has the ability to get the most out of the talent that they have on the team when healthy, not to mention the additional committed recruits to come.
Two years from now, if they are not back to being a competitive team in the SEC, then it will be time to make a change. Until that time, Gene Chizik should remain as head coach of the Auburn Tigers.
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