One of the more puzzling concepts that many fans and media outlets carry is how they pick and choose when to give credit to certain coaches.
I will fully admit that I was a critic of Gene Chizik until this season. I felt that he rode the coattails of Cam Newton and Gus Malzahn and, had it not been for them, he would be on the hot seat now.
However, this was hypocritical of me, because it did not line up with other statements I have made.
When a coordinator becomes a head coach, his role changes dramatically. He is no longer dealing with one side of the football and the recruitment of a few players. He is now the CEO of the whole team and his greatest responsibility is putting the right people in the right place for success. He now guides the whole ship and no longer maintains just a portion of it. He has to delegate his responsibilities to people he has hired.
So, why should we diminish the job Chizik has done at Auburn just because he made a great hire and recruited the right players? Isn’t that his job?
It is not fair but it is the reality. Most people do not give Chizik credit for the 2010 BCS championship. However, if he is able to build another contender in the next two seasons, it will be impossible to deny his success any longer.
Newton is now starting for the Carolina Panthers and Malzahn is the head coach at Arkansas State. Moreover, Chizik will be bringing in a new defensive coordinator and more staff changes could be coming soon.
In other words, Chizik is starting over from scratch as far as his coaching staff is concerned.
Yes, there is a great deal of talent on the Auburn campus, but there are areas of concern as well. Will Michael Dyer be back next season? Will the young talent be ready to take that next step?
Is Gene Chizik an elite coach?
These factors are not a recipe for success. However, don’t count Auburn and Chizik out yet. Throw as much criticism at him as you like—you name another coach that was an important part of three undefeated teams?
Chizik will remake his staff with an open checkbook with new coordinators coming in, but he still has to make the right hire. If he succeeds, there will still be some critics. After all, some people are incapable of giving respect where it is due or admitting they were wrong.
A head coach is only as good as the people he surrounds himself with. Look at this season’s SEC championship game. Both coaches of the participating team were recently on the hot seat. However, hiring new defensive coordinators made their teams relevant again.
However, I guarantee that if LSU wins the national championship this season, Les Miles will get the bulk of the praise and not John Chavis.
This is a time of transition for the Auburn coaching staff, but it could be the defining moment in the Chizik legacy.