I'm writing this in response to the never-ending articles I see that are questioning Auburn's hire of Chizik over Gill: specifically, that the decision was driven by racism.
You know things are sad when a dyed-in-the-wool Alabama fan has to come to the defense of Auburn. However, I am sick and tired of seeing my fellow SEC school (and by proxy, Southerners in general) get trashed in this fashion.
Do I think that Gill is a better coach than Chizik? Most definitely. I think that, with time, he could take Auburn further than Tuberville or Dye did. Be that as it may, Gill wasn't hired for three reasons:
1) He doesn't have the connections necessary to recruit in the South. More to the point, think about the beast that he would be going head-to-head with. Pat Dye specifically named poor recruiting as a major problem for Auburn on Finebaum's radio show.
If Tuberville, who is widely respected by high school coaches in this region, went 0-for-Alabama in terms of getting the best in-state recruits, what on earth would make anyone think that coach Gill could do a better job versus coach Saban?
2) The AD & the BoT want the offense to be run the "Auburn Way" (again, something Dye alluded to on the radio last week), and they could not do that if they brought in Gill's conglomeration of option-meets-West-Coast offense.
I have no doubt that coach Gill could get his hybrid system running in a couple of years, but Auburn's powers that be aren't willing to wait more than absolutely necessary. As it stands, Auburn is at least one recruiting class behind, seeing as how they got spread players in the last class.
They are going to have to boil it down to basics and rebuild with what they have.
3) This brings me to the third item, which is the most crucial...time. Auburn cannot afford to take a chance on someone who is so new to the area.
Nutt has made a massive splash next door. Miles will surely be pulling out all stops to get LSU back to where he wants it. Petrino is going to unleash a monster offense next year with Mallett. Saban has already reclaimed the state title of Resident Badass. Richt is going to be hot and heavy to get his Dawgs back on their feet, and he will be pulling out all of the stops. And let's not forget the magic of Meyer down in Florida.
Does this sound like an ideal environment for a classic "fish out of water" story to you?
This is where "Five and Nineteen Gene" has the upper hand. Chizik has far more experience in terms of what is expected from Auburn teams (tough D, power running) and the lay of the land in terms of recruiting.
He will be able to pick up his old connections and find a lot of help from the University in getting things done. He's not going to challenge the Powers That Be, and that is no small matter.
He is in a pickle in terms of an OC though, because he will have to find a damned good one that can at least plug the holes and ease the boat through the coming storm.
Make no mistake: Chizik wasn't the best coach, but he was the best fit for Auburn in terms of what they need right away: familiarity, roots, and to be honest, passivity towards the AD & the BoT.