Ask most Auburn fans why their team stumbled to a 7-5 record this year and they’ll usually blame Tommy Tuberville and his weak recruiting efforts as his time was running out on the Plains.
Jay G. Tate takes another look at Auburn’s situation and lays the blame on the current staff:
Some will insist it all goes back to Tommy Tuberville, whose final two signing classes in 2007 and 2008 yielded only a handful of players who became long-term producers. Auburn opened the season with only a few truly veteran starters.
Yet this is [Gene] Chizik’s third season on the Plains. He’s had ample time to reorganize the roster and fill holes created by the previous regime’s hit-and-mostly-miss recruiting efforts.
He signed four junior college players in 2010, which shows that filling the current senior class was a priority for Chizik.
Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy, tackle Brandon Mosley became a serviceable starter, end Joel Bonomolo rarely plays and tackle Roszell Gayden is long gone.
Two good players, two projects gone wrong. Whose fault is that?
At a time when Auburn desperately needed experience and leaders, the Tigers instead signed 24 kids straight out of high school. Many of them were forced into featured roles this fall, with ugly results.
You have to give Tate credit for being willing to look at this situation from a different perspective. He’s asking questions and giving answers to a depth most Auburn folks don’t want to consider.
I tend to agree with his analysis as well. This is Chizik’s team and he, better than anyone else had to know its needs.
The Tigers’ 2009 season was considered by most to be a success despite the resulting 8-5 record. Gus Malzahn was able to work magic with Chris Todd at quarterback and, as Auburn fans were quick to point out, they played eventual national champion Alabama close before losing 26-21.
The 2010 season was also magic. Cam Newton and Nick Fairley led the Tigers to a 14-0 record and their first national title since 1957. Malzahn was again confirmed as a genius for his utilization of Newton.
Most of my Auburn friends thought the 2011 Team would win 7-9 games. I marveled at their confidence. This group returned only six starters and would certainly miss Newton and Fairley. I wondered how they would win five and, in fact, predicted a 4-8 record. I just didn’t see how they would make it out of October beating any team except Ole Miss.
They proved me wrong, for sure, but how? Was it a magnificent coaching job or just good fortune? Well, i don’t think anyone on Auburn’s side would argue it was coaching.
So how key will 2012 be for this Auburn staff? How long does the goodwill from a BCS title last with Alabama, Arkansas and LSU in your division? How do the Auburn faithful like losing at least five games in three of the last four years? How will 7-5 or 8-4 fly next season?
Those are good questions to ponder this off season…