Fans of the Auburn Tigers that were hoping for sweeping changes at the top of Auburn's athletic department did not get the news they were hoping for on Monday. Auburn president Jay Gogue released the findings from the committee he appointed to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the Auburn athletic department. Statements from Gogue and committee member Mac Crawford showed support for Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs going forward.
On Tuesday, Jacobs went more in-depth with the committee's findings and his intentions to turn things around. One of the things he focused on in his speech was his commitment to enhance the game-day experience at Auburn and turn it into a weekend experience. Auburn has hired JMI Sports to review the department's processes. He based this off of feedback from alumni in a recent survey (via Brandon Marcello, al.com):
"When you look at the surveys, the things that you can control are the tailgating experience and the parking, and also the food, the quality of the food in the stadium," he said. "And then certainly the things that we've done around the game day have been very positive, but there's ways that we need to improve and we certainly look forward to those."
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
Excuse me, Mr. Jacobs, but the only game-day experience that Auburn fans are concerned with is winning. That is the common denominator for any Auburn fan's best game-day experience.
Winning cures all.
There are few atmospheres in college football that can match a weekend at Auburn when the Tigers are winning. Auburn fans with their RVs show up in droves from all over the South as early as Thursday, and there is a buzz around the campus that is almost palpable as tailgating tents pop up around campus on Friday morning.
In 2010, CNN ranked Auburn as the No. 2 tailgating spot in America. The Tigers won a few games that year, didn't they?
Improved signage around the stadium, locker room tours and dining on the 50-yard line of Jordan-Hare Stadium on a Friday night before a game were among 30 additions that Auburn added for the 2012 game-day experience.
Sure, that is really cool, but no Auburn fan cared about those things when they were walking out of Jordan-Hare Stadium at halftime of the Texas A&M and Georgia beat downs.
For Auburn fans, nothing can top the excitement of when the tunnel video comes on before the Tigers take the field with a chance to get a big victory. Watching Spirit or Nova fly majestically over Jordan-Hare Stadium is one of the best traditions in all of college football. The experience of walking out of Jordan-Hare Stadium on the way to Toomer's Corner with the rest of the Auburn family after a win over LSU, Georgia, Alabama or any other team never gets old.
It is those types of experiences that make the Auburn atmosphere so great for fans. But without winning, those things either don't happen or aren't nearly as exciting. You will be hard-pressed to find an Auburn fan that has much to complain about the game-day experience during the 2010 season.
The game-day experience will take care of itself when Auburn starts to win again. That isn't happening enough on the Plains right now.
Jacobs' three main programs (football, basketball and baseball) have combined for a 14-27 record in SEC play in the 2012-2013 academic year. He knows that winning is the ultimate measuring stick. "Winning means everything to me. I'm not going to do it at any cost, I'm not going to compromise my integrity, but I've heard it. Sometimes I hear it when I go home" (via Joel Erickson, al.com).
The noise around his job security this year will sound muted if Auburn sports show no improvement in 2013.
With a new lease on his stay as Auburn's athletic director, Jacobs' plan for enhancing the game-day experience at Auburn begins with making sure there is a winning product on the field.
"His (Gogue) expectations are high – and I intend to meet them," Jacobs said. "What comes next sits squarely on my shoulders."