There is probably not one head coach in the country who has faced more criticism than Auburn coach Gene Chizik. He will likely be standing on the unemployment line after this season and not even a victory over Georgia this weekend may save his job.
Still, the Auburn Tigers must rally around him and put up a fight.
When the Georgia Bulldogs travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium to take on Auburn this Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, nobody is giving the Tigers a chance. They haven't won a conference game all season, can't get anything going on either side of the ball and look like they just want this season to end already.
Auburn enters the game with two wins; Georgia is one win away from locking up a bid to the SEC Championship Game. Auburn enters the game with a scoring-offense that is ranked 112th in the country, Georgia has arguably the most balanced offense in the SEC.
Auburn is a defense that has allowed 20 plays over 30 yards, while Georgia has drastically improved its defense over the last two games and is slowly looking like last year’s unit that ranked fifth in the country.
However, according to the AP, via ESPN, Georgia head coach Mark Richt told his players that this team is more than capable of pulling off the shocking upset.
"I told the guys `Get your mind right, right now,'" Richt said. "We know they're capable of knocking us off."
Is that typical coach speak or does Auburn really have what it takes to beat a team that is favored by more than two touchdowns?
Well, judging by the way Auburn has played through the first nine games, there is nothing to tell these guys other than to play better. Throw the X's and O's out of the window, forget the pregame speeches to hype the team up, just go out there and show some type of pride in the last relevant home game of the season.
Nobody needs to tell Auburn that it is ranked 13th in the SEC in total offense and total defense. I'm sure the team knows it has allowed 23 touchdowns on 37 red-zone trips and has scored more than 20 points only three times all season long. There is nothing that can be said about this year’s team that hasn't already been said.
If you don't like it, go out there this Saturday and do something about it.
According to 247Sports.com, (Paid link) Coach Chizik is likely going to be fired at the end of the year. This doesn't come as a surprise considering Auburn is having its worst season in more than 50 years and will miss a bowl game for the first time since 2008.
He has obviously lost the team, as the performances each week aren't getting better. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, a security firm has been hired to help enforce curfew, which just screams trust issues with the head coach. And there is simply too much talent on this roster to be 2-7 after winning eight games a season ago.
I get all of that, and you can't blame the university if it decides to turn its focus elsewhere in finding a new head coach.
Who will win the SEC showdown?
But if there is an ounce of pride left in these players’ bodies, they will go out there and play hard this weekend. Whether they are doing it for a coach who only has a couple of weeks left or they are playing for themselves, this is the time to show something positive heading into a long offseason.
We saw it with the UCLA Bruins last season when the players gave it their all for Rick Neuheisel in a game against Oregon. The Indianapolis Colts are playing out of their mind right now for head coach Chuck Pagano for a completely different reason. Still, players are rallying around to make a statement and to send a message.
A game like this, our team really feels a responsibility to go out there and play extremely hard for our fan base, the rivalry and for Auburn. Chizik said during his Tiger Talk radio show Thursday night. With the circumstances of the season, and us understanding we have three opportunities left and we'll never be together again, I think that's another case in point for our guys to go out there and have a blast.
The coach who led this program to its first national championship since 1985 will likely not be roaming the sidelines any longer once these three games are up. Go out and give it your all, and show that there are better things to look forward to than what the previous nine games have shown.
Whether that brings a victory or not is a whole different story, but at least it would give the Tigers a shot.