Questions about Chizik but more about Gill…

December 17, 2008 at 6:45 am 4 comments

Buffalo Gill FootballExtra extra, read all about it! It’s almost impossible to turn on a television right now and not hear or see something about the Auburn Tigers recent hire of a football coach. For those who haven’t heard, Auburn decided to hire Gene Chizik, the former defensive coordinator for the Tigers in 2004 when they went undefeated and posted the highest scoring defense in the country. No problem right? Wrong, Gene Chizik was the head coach at Iowa State for  the last two years and had a record of 5-19…seriously. Aubrun A.D. Jay Jacobs interviewed many candidates, most of which had winning records and/or much better resumes, but stuck with bringing back the coordinator with the awful resume.

The big problem here is that one of the interviewed candidates, Buffalo head coach Turner Gill, is an African American and VERY qualified for the position. We are all aware of the lack of African American coaches in NCAA football and it’s quite shameful. Let me start out by saying that Turner Gill is one of my favorite coaches in the nation. He was a great player at Nebraska, he was an effective assistant within the college ranks, and he has done an outstanding job in just three years as the head coach of the Buffalo Bulls, a once atrocious program. There’s a couple reasons why people are so upset (including Sir Charles) and I have the same problems, however I am thinking that this might truly be a blessing in disguise for Turner Gill, his family, and his future.

It’s the South’s old ways – Some people believe that our country has progressed way past the times of racial inequality, I cannot agree. The South is still the South. Is it different? Yes. Has it changed from 50 years ago? Absolutely. But there is still heavy racism in the South and I find it hard to believe that all of the Auburn boosters label themselves as men working towards racial equality. I’m not saying that the boosters are racist and I am not saying that Auburn University is a racist school, but I believe that the old confederate thinking is still present and this could have had a major effect on the potential hiring of Turner Gill. I also do not think it helps that Turner Gill’s wife is white, something that confederate-thinking individuals are totally against. In fact, I would argue that Gill’s wife being white would have more to do with his non-hiring than him being black. This is 2008, our next president is black, all people are equal, color is color, get with the program Auburn.

Auburn’s Future – Gene Chizik may come into Auburn and do really big things, perhaps returning them to their 2004 days, but I’m not convinced. Chizik is talked about as being a great recruiter and having a solid plan, I think this all changes with his new position. When Chizik goes to recruit a high school prep player, will that player think back to when the university passed on hiring Turner Gill and taking a 5-19 Chizik? Will the young athletes feel that the university is driven more on race than they are on winning? Or if not the athlete, will the prep star’s family allow them to attend a university like Auburn? And I don’t mean just African American prep athletes, I mean all athletes. This issue causes anyone to question the decision, especially if you’re being recruited by Auburn, whether your white, black, asian, or hispanic. I am pretty sure that Chizik will have some hurdles to leap when it comes time to recruiting, it may not be so easy for him anymore.

Again, Gene Chizik may come to Auburn and really tear it up. He coached a great defense on a 13-0 team just four years ago and he helped to coach a 2005 National Champion defense (Texas) just three years ago, so he does have some upside. However, as a head coach he has underperformed and that’s the position that he was interviewed for and the position he was hired for. People may argue that Iowa State didn’t have the talent to win anymore than the five games they actually. My response is simple: Do you really think Turner Gill had the talent at Buffalo to win 15 games in three years, including eight wins this year and a bowl bid?

When it’s all said and done, I think this is good for Turner Gill and his future. I had said before that I didn’t want Gill to land his next job in a conference like the SEC, or at that high of a level. I think Turner Gill is one of the top coaches in the nation, I feel like he is on a lot of team’s radar, and I just don’t want to see him get his first, and possibly only, shot at a job at a prestigious school and go 6-7 in his first season only to be fired. I was really pulling for him to get the Syracuse job where he would get better talent, get a chance to play in a better conference, and get the opportunity to improve another program currently on the downslope. I would rather see Gill work up the latter rather than going from the MAC to the SEC, also known as being thrown to the wolves. College football is adopting the NFL mentality when it comes to employing head coaches and I would hate to see Turner Gill fall victim to that horrible system. Gill’s next job will be better than his situation at Buffalo, he will improve that program, and then he will accept the big job in the big conference that he deserves. And today Gill received a three-year contract extension and a raise from Buffalo and he is excited to stay. As bad as it is to see a major coaching position go to someone other than the much deserving Turner Gill, I honestly believe that this is a better situation for Gill than getting the Auburn job.


Entry filed under: College Football. Tags: , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael Mason-D'Croz  |  December 17, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I like your post, a lot of very good points.

    I was concerned when I saw the hiring at Auburn, and I felt bad about the whole situation. Personally, I didn’t want Gill to end up at Auburn, I really like the idea of Syracuse or of a possible move to TCU if Gary Patterson left there. However, the thing that outraged me was just how a severely underqualified Gene Chizik beat out a very qualified Gill.

    In the end, I agree with you that it’s probably best for Gill to have “missed out” on this opportunity.

    As a Nebraska kid (born and raised basically in Lincoln) and a UNL Journalism School graduate, I want to see Gill succeed at everything he does — which he has a very good track record of doing — and I really hope that he keeps going.

    Last year I was sad to see him not come to UNL, but we needed defensive help a lot more than any offensive coach could have brought and so Gill didn’t make much sense. However, I hope that at some point in the future I’ll see him back at Nebraska — where he belongs. However, hopefully that doesn’t come until he’s shown Auburn just how big a mistake they made.

  • 2. Gerald  |  December 18, 2008 at 1:06 am

    I don’t think that Gill is ever coming back to Nebraska. Gill was at Nebraska for years, and they never even promoted him to coordinator. As a matter of fact, they demoted him from QB coach to WR coach. So he left for the NFL. Then when he succeeds at Buffalo (remember, he was named MAC coach of the year LAST SEASON, not this year, because winning 5 games at that program was incredible) people were claiming that the MAC coach wasn’t good enough for Nebraska (never mind that Jim Tressel went from Division I – AA to winning a national title at Michigan in 2 years) and instead wanted a guy who had 5 years of coordinator experience (and only 1 at Nebraska) because fixing the defense in the short term (as if that couldn’t have been done by hiring another defensive coordinator) was more important than knowing how to build a national title contender in Lincoln, Nebraska, which isn’t exactly Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, or even Ohio and Georgia in terms of in – state talent.

    So, while guys like Kiffin (and Pelini) can step right into top jobs, blacks need two and three stepping stones? Please. Gill should go back to to the NFL, where a black guy can get hired at the age of 34 like Mike Tomlin (that hire is looking pretty good by the way, 2 division titles in a row with a team that was supposed to be rebuilding.) There is a movement to make him head coach of the Buffalo BILLS already.

    Blacks have made much more progress as coaches in the NFL, and that is where the top black coaching talent should go.


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