It wasn't exactly the dreaded vote of confidence, but Auburn's internal review of its athletic department wrapped up on Monday with some ominous words from university president Dr. Jay Gogue.
The review, which was announced by Gogue and athletics director Jay Jacobs when Auburn responded to Selena Roberts' allegations last month, centered around overall athletic department improvement.
Jacobs spoke more specifically about those steps on Tuesday to the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, and those steps appear to be nothing more than lip service.
According to Charles Goldberg of AuburnTigers.com, Auburn's plan moving forward is to improve its overall operations so that they're sharper and professional, enhance the game-day and game-weekend experience, refine how it interacts with fans and alumni, continue to develop major and Olympic sports and improve athletic facilities in a smart way that makes sense for Auburn.
"We have much work to do, but I’m convinced that our best days are not behind us," Jacobs said. "I will continue to fight for Auburn. I will continue to defend Auburn, and I will continue to push us to get better every day."
Or, in more succinct terms, do what an athletic department should already be doing.
But no, Auburn has hired JMI Sports to help implement the changes it has decided on, according to AuburnSports.com.
Consultants, buzz words, warm and fuzzy sentiments about connecting with the fanbase.
More like a whole lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Tigers Unlimited paid for the internal review, according to the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. That's a good thing. If state funds were used for this, it would be an incredible waste of money.
Improving game-day experience?
Anyone who has been around the Southeast to various SEC stadiums on game day knows that game-day experience doesn't vary much from place to place. There are the standard attractions for kids, various memorials to athletes of the past, pregame entertainment and memorabilia for sale.
It isn't the structured activities that make game-day experiences great, it's the people.
Jacobs elaborated on his plan, according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com:
Jay Jacobs wants to improve game-day experience at Auburn. "We're known as Running Back U. I want to be known as Tailgating U."— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) May 14, 2013
Do you know what creates a festive tailgating atmosphere? An upbeat fanbase.
Auburn fans didn't have a lot to be upbeat about last season, when their football team went 3-9 and finished 0-8 in the SEC for the first time in program history.
This review was a public relations stunt. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Jacobs knows that he's on thin ice, according to Joel A. Erickson of AL.com.
Auburn's Jay Jacobs: "What comes next sits squarely on my shoulders."— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAEricksonAU) May 14, 2013
Hiring former head coach Gene Chizik was, too. While that did lead to a BCS National Championship, it also was a major contributing factor to where Auburn finds itself now as a football program and an athletic department.
It's not the time to fire Jacobs now. Whether you think he should have a job, now's not the time for him to go. Not after recently completing a football head-coaching search.
Winning cures all ills, and Jacobs' future is directly tied to the success or failure of new head coach Gus Malzahn. It's off to a good start thanks to a record attendance of 83,401 at the spring game and early success on the recruiting trail.
But it's a win-now business, and while Auburn may say that overall improvement to its entire athletic department is a goal, what falls on Jacobs' shoulders is football success.
Not game-day experiences, not customer service, not connecting with alumni. Just winning, plain and simple.
Don't be fooled by Auburn's review of its athletic department. It's nothing more than lip service.