New Auburn coach Gene Chizik has done all he can to get Auburn out of the quickly-expanding shadow of its rival across the state.
Auburn spent the better part of a decade as the premier college football program in a state that lives and breathes college football, only to watch as Nick Saban resurrected a departed giant in Tuscaloosa, leaving Auburn as almost an afterthought in Alabama.
From visiting high schools in Auburn-branded Hummer limos, to starting a reality show, Chizik has worked the media to build hype around Auburn. However, the move which will likely have the most immediate impact on the Tigers’ success on the field is Chizik’s recent naming of Chris Todd as the starting quarterback for the upcoming season.
The blame for last year’s debacle could fall on any number of heads, but there’s no doubt that the quarterback controversy played a huge part in the Tiger’s miserable season.
As Todd and Kodi Burns battled for the starting nod, various ugly rumors entered into the debate, doubtlessly hurting team cohesion and morale.
There will be none of that this year.
Chizik named Todd the starter, and moved Burns to wide receiver. Unfortunately for Burns, he may have been the victim of simple bad timing.
It’s never been clear whether Burns or Todd was the best player for the position, but Todd stood out when it mattered most. There was no way that Chizik and his staff was going to enter the season without naming a starting quarterback, and Todd was the best quarterback at camp.
Before going down with an injury last season, Todd showed flashes of ability, but he also authored some seriously pathetic plays, which was the base source of some fans’ desire to give Burns a chance.
In fact, Todd wasn’t even in the conversation for the starting job when camp started, but he made the best of his opportunities, and now the team is his.
By all accounts, Burns handled the news with dignity and class, going out of his way to support his former rival for the position. Hopefully for Tiger fans, Todd will live up to Burns’ confidence.
For now, however, the best news for the Auburn faithful is that rather than an ugly controversy, the team has a single leader at quarterback to rally behind.