Say it or not, admit it or not, want to believe it or not, the time has arrived. The final days of the Auburn University Sports Department as we know it is upon us.
For Jay Jacobs, Coach Gene Chizik and his assistants, the Mayan Calendar is off by a few weeks.
The underperforming, underwhelming Auburn Tiger athletic department has more apparent problems than could be addressed in a boxcar full of sports articles.
But their problems don't only come from within. The biggest thorn in Auburn's paw is across the state geographically, but across the galaxy philosophically. That would be “Coach Satan”—er, Alabama Coach Nick Saban.
There's not a whole lot Auburn can do about him.
But they can and must immediately address their internal problems. They have to start by cleaning house.
There is no doubt and little valid argument that Coach Chizik is in over his head by the depth of the Marianas Trench. He's done a very good job on the recruiting front, but he can't coach up his players . That's an insurmountable obstacle, because teams that consistently win five, seven or even eight games a season will not land the high quality recruits they need to ascend to the next level.
What sounds more appealing to you? “Come play with us, prove yourself against the best and become a champion with a future in the NFL” or “Come play with us and be a part of building a team that will blah blah blah.” (You can add your own ending.)
Judging from reading message board posts and listening around the water cooler, it seems most Auburn fans are no longer behind either Chizik or Jacobs. Both men seem to be sorely unsuited for the responsibilities for which they were hired. Regrettably, the powers-that-be on Auburn's Board of Directors seem to be equally incapable of finding a leader—a voice to stand up and say what needs to be said.
If Alabama was experiencing an 7-6 year, a 4-7 year at Auburn might be more palatable. And maybe—just maybe—Auburn fans and alumni wouldn't be calling for the guillotine.
After all, if history has told us anything, Auburn fans and those in positions of power have always accepted mediocrity. Their success is measured, to great extent, by the success of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, stokes the fire of an Auburn fan more than to hear those words or to be called 'Bama's little brother or to know that half the fans outside the Southeastern Conference actually think they're in Georgia.
The powers-that-be need to get off their collective derrieres and do something. Make the tough call.
Terminate, terminate, terminate.
Not a person on that coaching staff will be hurting for money. Negotiating their contracts is one thing where Coach Chizik did an A+ job.
As of today, and quite probably the next few hundred days, Dan Mullen and Will Muschamp and Hugh Freeze—even James Franklin!—have better football teams and are developing better players.
They have their teams (and dreams) shooting skyward, instead of down into the abyss where Auburn has fallen.
I love Auburn. My son got his Master's degree from there. But Auburn Football is the face of Auburn University, with its coach the face of the football team.
Unfortunately, this year they both present an ugly face to the rest of the nation.
My, my...how far we have fallen in two short years.
Make the change now, Auburn. If not, next year will prove to be only a mediocre improvement at best, and a new regime will be that much further in the hole.
Besides, there's a crowd of quality coaches that can be signed now. And the longer we wait, the smaller the crowd will become.
Just like the crowds at our football games.