Will Chizik Return Auburn to the Winningest Program in the SEC?

Nick DumasContributor IDecember 13, 2008

No other SEC football team had more SEC wins than the Auburn Tigers from 2000-2007.  Many people would wonder why a university would make a change based on the fact stated above.  The real reasons we may never know, but the fact remains they did. 

One could probably make a better case to keep Tommy as to the case to not retain him as head coach.  If in fact he didn't resign on his own, but that is a moot point now.  

Let's take a look at one possibility, how does a program have the most wins in the conference over eight years but only two title game appearances and one championship?  Is it enough to be a perennial top-10 program? 

The answer is: no. Auburn expects to win championships, and if Tommy can have the most wins in the conference over an eight-year period but only one title he has to go.  With that being said, is Chizik the guy to bring Auburn championships?  The answer is: yes.

Why is Chizik the right guy for the job and can he win a championship his first year?  There are several reasons, let's look at a few. 

1.  He is a great defensive coach and let's face it defense wins championships.  He was the defensive coordinator during Auburn's only SEC championship during that eight-year period, which led the nation in points allowed per game.

2.  Auburn returns nine of 11 starters on defense.  A defense that was really good, but was hit hard by the injury bug and an inept offense.  The injuries are a positive for next year's team because of the experience that many players received, which add much depth to a defense that returns nine starters.

3.  Chizik will return the energy and fire that Coach Tub seemed to have lost over the last couple of years.  Attitude reflects leadership and look at successful programs and most of their head coaches are energetic and emotional.  

Coach Tub had that, but as I stated above, has lost some of that recently.  Today's players play harder for that type of coach and that is just the way it is.

4.  He will return the offense to the typical Auburn smash-mouth offense that led to so much success.  The wide-open pass happy offense that is the taking the nation by storm is not what Auburn needs.  Auburn needs a balanced offense that runs the ball effectively to set up the pass, and don't tell me it won't work Alabama 2008. 

Remember he was on the staff with possibly the best offense Auburn has had in 20 to 25 years.  I know there were three first-round draft picks in that backfield, but they had balance and that is what makes an offense effective.  

Auburn returns seven starters on offense and a QB that improved as the season transpired and gained invaluable experience.  Kodi Burns will be a much better QB in a more balanced traditional offense than a spread offense.

5.  The strength of the SEC.  There is no clear-cut favorite in the SEC west.  Alabama will have a first year QB, three new offensive lineman if Smith leaves early, and a new TE.  LSU will lose five on offense and have an unproven QB, as well as, losing three defensive linemen. 

Arkansas will be better, but probably still a year or two away.  Ole Miss will have a returning very good QB, but does lose six offensive starters including three on the offensive line. 

While it appears Florida should have little trouble representing the east, the west is wide open, and even though Florida will be the best team on paper anything is possible if you can get to Atlanta.

Those are a few of the reasons I believe Auburn has a legitimate shot at winning a conference championship in Chizik's first year. 

What are some of the issues that may make it difficult to win the SEC his first year?

1.  Is the Auburn nation going to give Chizik the support he needs in his first year?  Let's face it; he has not been a very popular selection in the eyes of many Auburn fans.   If the Auburn nation does not embrace Chizik as Auburn's new head coach it could be a long uphill battle.

2. A 5-19 career record.  He will have to gain the confidence of his players, because he will not have it immediately from all of them because of his record.  I do not believe his previous record represents the kind off coach he will be for Auburn for many reasons. 

He took over a bad Iowa State team in a place that is very hard to get top talent on a consistent basis.  The Big 12 conference has been better in the past two years than it has ever been making it even more difficult to win there.  The talent at Auburn will be much better and much easier to recruit.

3.  His coaching staff.  He must bring in a great staff including a very good offensive coordinator that will run a balanced attack.  This decision will probably be a large determining factor in his success or lack there of at Auburn.

4.  QB?  Is Kodi Burns going to be able to thrive under his offense or will we see the highly talked about Barrett Trotter.  Either way the QB position, as at every successful school, will be a determining factor in the success of the program.

5.  Schedule - Auburn will play 11 straight weeks with an off week coming before Alabama, including trips to Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia.  It is very difficult to maintain intensity and dodge injuries playing 11 straight weeks.

6.  Tim Tebow.  I know 11 schools in the SEC will be glad when he loses his eligibility.  What a great player, don't get me wrong. Florida has many great players, but without Tebow they are probably a 6-2 or 5-3 SEC team.  I expect Florida to return once again to Atlanta and be a heavy favorite, but Chizik would have the opportunity to get his first signature win.

As you can see there are many reasons that point to Auburn returning to the top of the SEC, and many reasons for Auburn to have another bad to mediocre season.  Which one will it be?  Only time will tell, but I look for Auburn to return to the top of the SEC in 2009.