Auburn Football: Gene Chizik Must Remain Until End of the Year

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2012

STARKVILLE, MS - SEPTEMBER 08:  Coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers walks off the field in the first quarter of a NCAA college football game against Mississippi State Bulldogs on September 8, 2012 at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Butch Dill/Getty Images

It would be a mistake for Auburn to fire head coach Gene Chizik now.

Chizik, for all intents and purposes, is a dead man walking. The Tigers are 1-7 overall and winless in the SEC. Meanwhile, in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide are steamrolling opponents en route to a possible second-consecutive national title.

Across almost every sport, firing the head coach is the most popular option in order to stem a negative tide (no pun intended). It's the easy move to make, and, in some cases, it's the right one. This is not one of those cases.

Their national title during the 2010 season feels like decades ago. While Chizik earned numerous coach of the year awards as a result, the majority of Auburn's success that year is being chalked up to Cam Newton.

No matter how bad things get, you'd expect a coach who won a national title just two years ago to get a little more slack. But that's not how sports operate, especially in an environment as hyper-competitive as the SEC.

Fans can say that Auburn only finished 8-5 last year, but not much was expected from a team that only returned seven starters. That number was the fewest in the entire country. The fact that they finished as well as they did is an incredible achievement.

The expectation for 2012 was that the team would build on the 8-5 season and compete for the SEC title. Still, though, Auburn failed to crack the AP Poll and were only 25th in the USA Today Poll. Auburn would be a competitive team in every other conference. Because they're in the SEC, though, their problems are exacerbated.

Chizik deserves plenty of criticism for how the season is going. If he's going to be credited for the team's success, he should get blamed for its failures.

But firing him now will solve nothing. It's bad, but Chizik deserves to finish out the season. With the national title he brought to Auburn in 2010, he has earned that right.

Recruiting is one reason why many Tigers fans will want a new coach hired immediately. But how much would firing Chizik now help that?

According to ESPN, they already have the seventh-best class in the nation. Some recruits might be turned off by Auburn's record, but with the history and recent success the school has had, there are alluring qualities.

It wasn't until after the regular season was over that Urban Meyer was hired, and Ohio State still managed the sixth-best class in the country.

And just imagine how Chizik could finish out the season. Despite the odds against it, if Auburn were to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Chizik would again be hailed as mastermind and Tigers fans would believe he's the man to lead the school back to the promised land.

At this stage, there's nothing that could be salvaged from the season. Firing the head coach and hiring someone else right now wouldn't change anything.