ESPN signed sports writer and personality Paul Finebaum back in May in hopes that the opinionated and controversial analyst would spice up its programming. He made his College GameDay debut on Saturday with guns blazing as he called former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik the worst head coach to ever win a national championship:
Finebaum has never been shy about saying what is on his mind, and he set the bar pretty high this time. While spewing vitriol right out of the gates might rub some people the wrong way, it's tough to argue with Finebaum's assertion.
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In six seasons as an FBS head coach with Iowa State and Auburn, Chizik posted just one double-digit-winning campaign. He had a 5-19 record with the Cyclones before being named the Tigers head coach prior to the 2009 season.
Chizik led Auburn to an 8-5 record that year, but the team took a huge step forward in 2010 when quarterback Cam Newton led the Tigers to an undefeated 14-0 season and a national championship.
Newton was drafted No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 draft, which caused Auburn to revert back to 8-5 form. There were hopes for a bounce-back season in 2012, but Chizik and the Tigers hit rock bottom as they went 3-9, including an 0-8 mark in the SEC.
Because of that, Chizik was fired just two years removed from a national title. Auburn was so desperate to move on that it was willing to pay a huge contract buyout in order to do so. Auburn has since hired Gus Malzahn as its new head coach, while Chizik is left without a coaching job.
Taking a shot at a down-and-out coach like Chizik could be considered unwarranted on Finebaum's part, but it's likely that plenty of people will enjoy his brutal honesty. Count Indiana head basketball coach Tom Crean among them:
I love that Paul Finebaum is on ESPN GAMEDAY now. The guy knows his stuff because he knows the game. Great insights.— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) August 31, 2013
Chizik was the first target of Finebaum's verbal assault, but he'll hardly be the last.
Lee Corso donning mascot heads has been the talk of College GameDay for many years, but if his debut appearance is any indication, Finebaum could soon become the highlight of the Saturday morning staple.
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