Seeing the last of the Gene Chizik era
by Johnathan Bentley
Oct 14, 2012 | 2735 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A dejected coach.

A team that constantly under-performed.

By the end, the writing was on the wall.

That was four years ago when former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was ousted after putting together a 5-7 record.

Gene Chizik is heading down that same road in 2012.

There are plenty of similarities. The most notable — losses, and plenty of them.

Like Tuberville, Chizik is sounding more and more dejected and is having to field questions about his future. The latest chapter was a humbling 41-20 loss to Ole Miss on Saturday. The same Ole Miss team that had lost 16 straight SEC games.

Also like Tuberville, the addition of new coordinators has not produced any positive results.

When you are hanging your hat on a win over Louisiana-Monroe, you are in trouble.

Tuberville added offensive coordinator Tony Franklin prior to the 2008 season. He was gone by midseason after the team failed to take to his spread offense. Tuberville lasted to the end of the season.

This season, Chizik brought in both offensive coordinator Brad Loeffler and defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder. The Tigers entered Saturday’s game ranked near the bottom of the SEC on both sides of the ball.

After the latest performance, it seems Auburn is headed for a last-place finish in the SEC West for the first time since the conference split into divisions in 1992.

To say the new coordinators haven’t produced is an understatement.

The offense is downright offensive.

The Tigers entered Saturday’s game ranked 113th in total offense. Even with two touchdowns against Ole Miss, Auburn still has a paltry 10 total offensive touchdowns this season. Of the 120 FBS football teams, only Tulane has fewer.

At least the teams is ranked in the middle of the pack in total defense — 75th.

It’s not the rankings or the losses that have Auburn fans talking about their next head coach — well, it is the losses, but it’s also the way the Tigers have looked on the field.

Auburn started the season by playing Clemson to within a touchdown. If the two teams played right now, Clemson would win by at least 21 points, probably more.

Auburn has regressed so much since that first game that the team doesn’t resemble the squad that lost tough battles to Clemson and LSU.

Somewhere between the LSU loss and now, the team has taken a turn — a turn back to 2008 and the final days of Tommy Tuberville.

Over the last two weeks, the Tigers have wilted in the second half. That was evident on Saturday. The game was tied at 17-all at the half. Auburn was still within striking distance after three quarters, trailing 24-20.

The second that the players put up the four fingers indicating the final quarter, Auburn needs to get the jump on beating the traffic. The Tigers have been outscored 62-3 in the fourth quarter. Those three points came in the Clemson game.

In crunch time, the team is a no-show. That’s never a good sign. That has more to do with coaching than anything else.

Auburn has put together great recruiting classes under Chizik. The result is a 9-10 record over the last two seasons.

During his tenure, Tuberville claimed to turn 2-star players into 4-star players during their time at Auburn. I would contend the opposite for Chizik. Very few players have shown improvement over the last two years.

Again, that’s all coaching.

Sure, Auburn has a new staff and that’s going to take time for the entire group to mesh. At the same time, the team is getting progressively worse as the season goes on.

Even if you look beyond the wins and losses, the team is simply not making even minimal improvements.

Maybe it’s time to give someone else a chance.

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Johnathan Bentley is the Sports Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at johnathan.bentley@mountaineagle.com.