Less than two years ago, Gene Chizik was the toast of the Auburn Tigers, as Cam Newton ran his offense to perfection and a national championship win. Now, a few misguided fans have gone so far as to petition the President of the United States to get Chizik removed.
Despite a rough season, firing Chizik is the wrong decision.
The difficulties during the 2012 season were predictable. The team has taken major hits to players and the coaching staff over the last two seasons.
The major losses from the 2010 team were obvious. They lost Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and Lombardi Award winner Nick Fairley to the NFL.
But that was just the start. Auburn lost almost 40 percent of their roster after that season, making them one of the hardest hit programs in college football.
The Tigers are also operating under a pair of first-year coordinators. Brian VanGorder, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, took over at defensive coordinator. Respected offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn left to take the head coaching job at Arkansas State.
Then there was the loss of star running back Michael Dyer, who was suspended at the end of last season and then followed Malzahn.
If Chizik hadn't been proactive in replacing talent since his arrival, one could understand the frustration with his leadership. But his 2010 and 2011 recruiting classes were ranked in the Top Five, while the 2012 class was ranked No. 12 by Rivals.com and Athlon Sports.
The young talent showed flashes of quality this season. Auburn took LSU to the wire and was competitive against Clemson and Mississippi State.
But as the losses mounted, so did the doubt among a young team. It has afforded learning opportunities and the players will be ready in 2013.
The present is certainly bleak for Auburn (3-8, 0-7) but it shouldn't come as a surprise. Several analysts warned of a drop-off after the national championship.
However, Chizik has been building talent under his tenure. Firing him at this point allows young players to leave and threatens what is looking like another quality recruiting class for 2013.
He will have the team back in contention next season.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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