(Image stolen from RBR.)
Assignment for today: find someone who can think of something positive to say about Gene Chizik, Auburn head coach.
Lists of people who DON'T have anything nice to say about it:
He also led the Cyclones to a robust 0-8 mark in the Big 12 this season. Oh, and he didn't play Texas, Texas Tech, or Oklahoma this year. But maybe I'm being unkind. After all, Chizik did beat Kent State and South Dakota State this year. Of course he lost 10 consecutive games after those wins. ... How do you make Dan Mullen and Lane Kiffin look like Bear Bryant? You hire Gene Chizik.• Mr. College Football.
You change coaches because you are certain that you can hire a pretty good upgrade. Gene Chizik may prove to be a significant upgrade before he is through at Auburn.• Dr. Saturday.
But on Dec. 15, 2008, as I look at the program at Alabama and the program at Auburn, the timing doesn’t seem very good right now to be the head coach of the Tigers. In fact, it looks pretty bad.
But obviously, there's big number: 5-19. On his own, Chizik is 2-14 in Big 12 games, and Iowa State actually regressed in his second year, falling to 0-8 in the conference by an average of 20 points per defeat. Defensively, ISU finished this year in the bottom ten nationally -- 110th or worse -- in total, scoring and pass efficiency defense. The Cyclones' only wins were over Kent State and South Dakota State before a ten-game losing skid. Hey, at least they beat Kent State this year -- Chizik's first game in Ames was a nine-point loss to the Golden Flashes in 2007, quickly followed by defeat at the hands of Northern Iowa and Toledo before the end of September. There were flashes of competence here and there -- a close, competitive loss to Oklahoma in '07, a 20-0 halftime lead over Kansas before another eventual loss this year -- but 24 games in, the Cyclones have made no discernible progress from that ignominious start. Realistically, Chizik was probably another losing season away from being fired. At Iowa State.• EDSBS.
Saban LOL. Every person in the entire universe thinks this is a terrible deplorable horrible idea with zero merit except for Nick Saban and Kirk Herbstreit. Herbstreit said “I know Gene Chizik,” and right after that our brain’s pablum filter shut out the rest of what he said other than to note that it was both positive and devoid of any real analytical value.• JCCW.
I've spent at least part of every hour since trying to think of one, racking my brain for a coaching hire that made you say Huh? What on earth are they thinking? the way the announcement of Gene Chizik did, and then turned out all right.
I've failed. The two candidates from last year were Bill Stewart and Mike Sherman. Fail. The last two I can think of in the SEC were Ed Orgeron and Ron Zook. Fail. Remember when Nebraska fired Frank Solich and replaced him with Bill Callahan and we all thought they were dumb? They were. Remember when you found out, earlier this decade, that Army had hired some guy who was going to bring in a crazy West Coast passing scheme, and you thought "That'll never work?" It didn't. The closest I can come to new head coaches who were greeted with something less than wild enthusiasm and then went on to success are guys like Jim Tressel, Rich Brooks, and Les Miles, but all three of them had definitively successful head coaching stints already on their resume. Our guy, as you are aware, does not.
Tons of programs have been led astray by false optimism. If you know of one who's endured a bout of false pessimism, I'd love to be reminded of it.