Auburn Football 2011: 14 Important Figures to the Tigers Program
On any given day throughout the year there are numerous people at work to ensure that the Auburn football team is able and ready to play every Saturday in the fall. Some of the important contributors directly affect the day to day operations while others lend support and a positive voice for Auburn football and athletics.
Some major influence comes from the coaching staff as well as inside the athletic department, but even ensuring that the playing surface is playable goes a long way. The Auburn family owes a lot of the success in recent years to efforts of those that are no longer officially tied to the school, but serve as ambassadors for Auburn and the football program.
This list consists of 14 people that are the most influential and important to the success of the Tigers. There are far more people that allow Auburn’s game-day and football program to run smoothly, but for the sake of practicality the list must be capped.
Gene Chizik –Head Coach
Coach Chizik is an obvious choice for this list as he should be the most influential person over the football program and its day to day operations. This past Friday, Chizik received a $1.3 million dollar raise pushing his annual income to a guaranteed $3.5 million making him the fourth highest paid coach in the SEC.
Chizik brought an abysmal 5-19 record from Iowa State but he also brought a reputation as a relentless recruiter and skilled teacher on the football field from his time at Auburn as a defensive coordinator in the early 2000’s. Since arriving on the Plains, Chizik has pushed his Tigers to a 22-5 record in two seasons. That is an impressive two-year stretch no matter who you are.
What else Chizik has done is win a national championship and hire one of the best coaching staffs in the country. Headlining the staff is All-Star Gus Malzahn who is heading into his longest tenure at the collegiate level with one school.
Chizik is the head of the Auburn football team and the face of the program. The future looks very bright for Auburn under the leadership of Gene Chizik, but two years hardly makes a legend. With the new contract extension through 2015, Chizik has the chance to earn his ducats.
Gus Malzahn – Offensive Coordinator
Gus Malzahn came to Auburn from the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. Malzahn had made his way to the collegiate ranks in 2006 with Arkansas. After only one season with the Hogs and two with the Golden Hurricanes, Chizik and the Tigers from Auburn came calling.
Malzahn accepted the position and immediately the shock wave hit Auburn and the SEC. Everyone remembered how the Hogs utilized Darren McFadden and Felix Jones and Auburn was itching for a return to the running game after a year’s hiatus under the Tony Franklin System.
How would Malzahn impact the SEC without the weapons like he had at Arkansas at his discretion? Auburn excelled under Malzahn’s new attack and drastically increased the production from a year prior. In 2010, Auburn had the most explosive offense in all of college football.
Malzahn’s ability to develop an offensive scheme around his talent is amazing. Heading into his third year at Auburn and third quarterback, there is no telling the mix of plays that will be called this season. I would expect an even mix of the pass and run but there is sure to be some formations that have not been witnessed in his previous seasons as a play caller.
Malzahn has great recruiting connections in Arkansas and develops quarterbacks as good as any coordinator in the game today. Look for the incoming talent at quarterback to be some of the best in Auburn’s storied football history.
Curtis Luper – Recruiting Coordinator / Running Backs Coach
Curtis Luper has been pulling double duty for the Tigers the past two seasons. As recruiting coordinator for the Tigers football program, opposing teams can thank Coach Luper and his novel tactics as they lose top level talent to the Tigers.
Luper has done an amazing job with the help of his fellow coaches to develop fun events that have drawn top level talent and have bred positive results. Big Cat weekend is one of the most successful of the events and has seen numerous commitments in the past few weeks following the most recent event.
As well as recruiting coordinator, Luper serves as the running backs coach for the Tigers. Auburn has plenty of talent at the position with Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb and others which makes Luper’s job a little bit easier.
The ability that Luper has shown to develop running backs will carry his success into the future at Auburn. Luper is also a skilled recruiter who is successful at building relationships with recruits and their families. His ability to recruit and build the technical skill of the running backs helps build and maintain the Tigers program as one of the elite rushing attacks in the country.
Kevin Yoxall – Head Strength and Conditioning Coach
Coach Yoxall came to Auburn in January of 1999 from UCLA. He made the transition under the Tuberville staff and was retained during the Chizik hiring. Coach Yoxall has earned a reputation as one of the best strength coaches in the country with his rigorous workouts and training programs that are instituted for the Tigers.
Yoxall is often found conducting the stretch drills for the Tigers during practice sessions and is held in high regard amongst players. The trustful bond that Yoxall forms with the players allows the team to follow his instruction and push their physical limits. Since Chizik’s arrival it seems the intensity has increased and the future for the Tigers nutrition and strength weighs heavily on Yoxall and his programs.
Yoxall has taken the challenge to succeed head on and was a big part of the national title preparation and will continue to influence the program for the better in the future.
Reverend Chette Williams – Team Chaplain
Chette Williams joined the Auburn Tigers as team chaplain in the fall of 1999. He has served the Auburn football team for 12 years. Williams also serves as the campus director for the Fellowship for Christian Athletes and is the State Director for Urban Ministries for FCA.
Williams is a very important part of the Tigers success and leads a very responsive FCA group at Auburn University. Chizik brought a family atmosphere to the Tigers locker room and Williams is and will continue to be a large part of that atmosphere. Williams was a three year letterman for the Tigers from 1982-1984.
Dr. Michael Goodlett – Team Doctor
Dr. Goodlett has worked for the Auburn athletics department as the team doctor for 17 years. Keeping the Tigers healthy is a huge responsibility and it ultimately falls to the feet of Dr. Goodlett. Goodlett came to Auburn in 1990 to serve as the medical director of the Auburn University Health Center and was later appointed to his current position.
Dr. Goodlett also serves closely with one of the most well-known names in sports in Dr. James Andrews.
Dr. James Andrews – Orthopedic Surgeon
Dr. Andrews serves as Co-Medical Director for Intercollegiate Sports at Auburn. Dr. Andrews works closely with Dr. Michael Goodlett to ensure the safety and health of the Auburn Tigers football team. Dr. Andrews has numerous hats that he wears as he serves numerous professional teams as well.
Dr. Andrews can be found on the sidelines of most Auburn football games in the fall. Having the most well renowned orthopedic surgeon in the sports world on your sidelines on gameday can never hurt things. Dr. Andrews plays a role in the rehabilitation program for injured Tigers and helps their expedient return.
Jay Jacobs – Athletic Director
Jacobs was named the Auburn Athletics Director in December of 2004 after serving inside the Auburn Athletic department for 20 years. Jacobs played offensive tackle for the Tigers and was a letterman during the 1982 and 1983 seasons.
Jacobs made one of the most controversial calls in college football when he decided to hire Gene Chizik as the head football coach to replace Tommy Tuberville. Very few thought that it was a good decision and Jacobs was even heckled when he arrived at the airport after hiring Chizik.
Jacobs’s decisions to this point as Athletic Director have been spot on and have helped the growth of the football program into a nationally recognized brand. The future for athletics looks to be in good hands with Jacobs at the helm as development of facilities is sure to continue and a possible expansion of Jordan-Hare Stadium in the near future.
Dr. Jay Gogue – Auburn University President
Dr. Gogue is the President of Auburn University and a large supporter of Auburn University athletics. Dr. Gogue is a recognizable figure in the academic world after serving as President of New Mexico State University and the University of Houston.
Dr. Gogue has been a large supporter of what Coach Gene Chizik and his staff are doing with the football program and signed off on the $1.3 million dollar raise for Chizik. The commitment to the program,its development and direction have helped Auburn attain a national championship and will help continue to grow the program in the future.
David Housel – Former Athletics Director
Housel served as the Auburn athletic director prior to the 2004 promotion of Jay Jacobs to the position. He also served as the sports information director for the Tigers athletics programs. Housel most recently has gained notoriety for his books that he has written as an Auburn historian.
The most famous of his contributions is no doubt the Auburn University Football Vault as it is an in depth historical timeline through the storied Auburn football past. Housel still serves the Auburn family as a public ambassador and historian. Housel is a true Auburn man and will always be remembered as a very important figure of the past, present and future.
Rod Bramblett – Play by Play Announcer
Bramblett became the Auburn Tigers play-by-play announcer after the unexpected passing of the legendary Jim Fyffe. Bramblett had large shoes to fill when the most memorable of all calls, “Touchdown Auburn!” could no longer be heard over the Auburn sports radio network.
Bramblett has since served the Tigers and remembers Fyffe by using the signature “Touchdown Auburn” phrase at least once in each Auburn football game. Bramblett has put his own signature on the broadcasts now as he has served the Tigers radio network as the play by play announcer since 2003.
The voice of any sports team is the connector between the fans and players on the field. Bramblett connects fans every Saturday to the action over the radio waves making it as close to a game-day experience as any Tiger fan will get.
Vincent “Bo” Jackson – Former Auburn Running Back
Bo Jackson is one of the most recognizable figures in the game of football. Not only is he recognized at Auburn but his skills also hit the NFL with just as much tenacity before his career ending hip injury. Jackson is a major figure in Auburn history having won the Heisman and destroying the record books in his time on the Plains.
Jackson has been noticed around the program a lot more in the past two seasons as Gene Chizik has made an effort to bring back successful former Tigers to be around the program. Jackson has increased his presence in recent years and last season even handed down some pointers that helped develop the running style of Onterio McCalebb.
Not only is Jackson a famous former player, but Jackson is also a motivational speaker with quite the story to tell. Having the presence of Bo Jackson around a program helps motivate players and also give them a figure to look up to outside of the program. His presence in the program is irreplaceable.
Joe Whitt – Former Linebacker Coach
Whitt was a coach for Auburn from 1981 until 2007. Whitt still serves the program in numerous venues, most notably as a part of Tigers Unlimited, the Auburn athletics fund raising arm. Whitt has been a part of some great seasons at Auburn and coached 20 NFL players in his time at Auburn.
His most recent contribution came in late 2008 when he was recruited by Gene Chizik to help him recruit for the 2009 class as he solidified his coaching staff. Whitt is a representation of a true Auburn man and will continue to serve the Tigers in numerous capacities in the future.
Eric Kleypas - Manager for Turf and Landscape Services
Eric Kleypas is the most under-the-radar name on this list. Kleypas has one of the most crucial jobs of all involved with the Auburn Tigers football program however. As the Manager for turf and landscape at Auburn he plays a vital role in the turf that is used and maintained at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Having a stable playing surface is something that goes unnoticed until the field seems to slippery or too tattered for play. Auburn prides itself in its agriculture program and also in the quality of the playing surface at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Not only is the stadium consistently one of the loudest in the country but it is also the nicest playing surface in the country.