It wasn't necessarily the dreaded "vote of confidence," but Auburn president Jay Gouge issued a statement about the current state of the Auburn football program on Thursday.
Almost immediately, the letter was being dissected left and right about what it said, and perhaps more importantly, what it didn't say.
The Auburn spirit is part of everything we do – in the classroom and beyond. It includes the spirit we show when we support those who represent us on the playing field.
Later today, Auburn students and the local community will gather to cheer on the football team as they practice. I encourage others to follow their example by coming together and getting behind the young men who wear the orange and blue each fall Saturday.
In the past few weeks, many of you have contacted me, and I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to share your thoughts about the football program. I know your concerns are sincere and heartfelt, and I share many of them. As we do every year, the football program will be evaluated in an objective, thorough and professional process.
For everything there is a time, and now is the time to support. The young men and women – our students – who make up Auburn University are grateful for the dedication of their extended Auburn Family. So am I.
Before we dive in to the intentional, and perhaps unintentional, meaning of the letter, its primary intent was likely to clam down what has become a firestorm of letters from unhappy fans and boosters directed at Auburn's administrators.
That much is obvious.
But is there more to it?
There wasn't a mention of head coach Gene Chizik or any member of the Auburn coaching staff in it.
The absence of any mention of Chizik and the Auburn coaching staff should certainly make members of the staff sweat, if they weren't already.
Auburn needs to turn things around this weekend against Texas A&M, and if it doesn't, the evaluation that Gouge referenced in his letter will not be a pleasant one, and it will likely result in Chizik's dismissal.
But there's probably more to it than that.
The fact that the letter came from Gouge, and not athletics director Jay Jacobs—which has been the case on several occasions in the past—could indicate that a much bigger shakeup could be in the works within the Auburn athletic department.
Could Jacobs' job be in jeopardy? That remains to be seen.
If it is, then Chizik is as good as done. Athletic directors typically like to hire "their guy" in high-profile roles, and Auburn's 1-6 record in 2012 certainly will bring Chizik's future in doubt.
Gouge's letter to the Auburn family may mean nothing. But the circumstances dictated that something needed to be done to rally the fanbase. The fact that the letter came from Gouge and not Jacobs indicates that the winds of change may be blowing on the Plains.
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