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Auburn Rewards Mediocrity with Staff Raises

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According to a report in a recent edition of The Birmingham News, Auburn "rewarded" its football coaching staff with raises following a "successful" season.

Really? 8-5 overall and 3-5 in the conference is "successful" now?

At the end of 2008, Auburn football was about as low as it could go. A 5-7 season record, an offense completely in shambles after replacing a coordinator mid-season, and the ten-year tenure of Tommy Tuberville was at its end too. Then, there was the firestorm that followed the hiring of Gene Chizik.

The 2009 campaign started strong – Auburn jumped to 5-0 record – but quickly derailed and the Tigers struggled down the stretch winning only three times and none over the chief rivals of LSU, Georgia, and Alabama. Three times in the season, Auburn blew 14 point leads. Auburn was awarded a bid to the Outback Bowl, a rarity for a 7-5 team, and proceeded to surrender 600+ yards of offense to Northwestern before finally winning in overtime.

Impressed yet? Didn't think so.

In one of the biggest surprises of the recruiting season, Auburn and the very visible, vocal staff hauled in a top 10 recruiting class according to the various reporting services.

Is that's a sign of progress? Well, sort of, but judging recruiting classes before they hit the field is sophomoric at best.

Head coach Gene Chizik was quoted saying, "It's really important that there was a vote of confidence there in our administration in the importance of continuity in the coaching staff. When you have very talented guys as assistant coaches, a lot of people are going to be interested in hiring them."

Who seriously wants to hire the defensive staff from Auburn? Do they watch football? And while Auburn's offensive numbers improved from 2008 to 2009, who out there thinks this offense "works" against conventionally strong defenses?

Supporters will say that Auburn's move is no different than what other schools around the conference and country are doing. That still doesn't make it right.

I realize this doesn't come from state-appropriated monies to the university. College football is a big business and business is mostly good. However, attendance slipped around the country last year even though the SEC still led all conferences in average attendance. Auburn sold out one – ONE – home game last season and that was against the chief rival Alabama (Anybody watch that game? Notice all that red in the stands?). Auburn went to a bowl game with a big payout.

The money is there, but is it justified? No, it is not. It sends a message to the fanbase that mediocrity – and that's what 8-5 is – will be not only acceptable at Auburn, but rewarded.

I understand now what Trev Alberts meant when he said, "It's just Auburn being Auburn."

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About J. Newcastle

  • SteveFC

    Bwahaha, that has to be one of the dumbest assessments that I have read. Because you give raises means you are satisfied with where you are? Really? Are you really dumb enough to believe your own article? Hahahaha. Hilarious!!!

  • J. Newcastle

    How exactly is an opinion piece with two citations “dumb,” sir?

  • Josh Hathaway

    How else should one interpret it, Steve? You give raises when you’re dissatisfied with where you are? Oh, wait. I get it. The more you pay, the better you are. Giving these guys a raise will make Auburn better.

    I know. You give raises because you like the direction the team is trending. One mediocre year is a trend worth rewarding.

  • WriteSomethingDecent

    Didn’t Saban get an increase after the season he lost a game to U-freakin-LM?!

  • Josh Hathaway

    Hey, try comment something decent. If you don’t know, you have no point. Did he? Show me where he did.

    If you actually read the article, J points out this happens at many schools and that it’s stupid. This isn’t an Alabama/Auburn rehash. It’s an assessment of college programs rewarding mediocrity. Alabama gave Mike Shula a big raise after a lone 10-win season and fired his ass the next. For those keeping score at home, 10 is more wins than 8. That raise was a mistake. It was a foolish decision. This has nothing to do with the schools themselves. This is about the practice, which is foolish. Smart programs pay for performance. What Chizik did didn’t merit a raise.

  • PlaiduhPus

    I agree w/ a previous commenter about Saban’s salary increase after a non-too-impressive first season. UAT believed in his potential and invested in that potential. It was a gamble they were willing to take, especially considering his past…er…experiments in coaching…and it payed off. Payed off very well I think. I believe AU is doing this with the coaching staff there as well. Investing in people they believe in and making a gamble. Much of life is about seeing someone’s potential before they’ve had a real chance to prove it to you. If life was devoid of all gambles, would it be nearly as exciting or rewarding? I don’t believe so. If AU has a successful season this coming year and for the next few years to follow I personaly would love to here your take on their salaries then. Perhaps you could then offer some insight about how unworthy of their pay they are. Chances are though, even then you’ll be unimpressed. This is your right, of course. And after all, this is an opinion blog, not the AP. I wouldn’t expect you to be professionally unbiased.

  • Josh Hathaway

    Okay you just identified the crucial difference PlaiduhPus. Saban — if it’s true he got a raise after 7-5, something I’ve still not seen documented but rather only asserted — had a resume quite different than Gene Chizik. Chizik still has a career losing record as a head coach. His eight wins at Auburn doubled his career total at Iowa State. I don’t think anyone has to worry about Michigan or Notre Dame luring Gene Chizik from the Plains. It’s not like he coached last year for free. They already invested in his potential. Future raises should be tied to, I don’t know, actually doing something.

  • SteveFC

    Hahahaha, I see there are other people that are actually this dumb. You give raises based upon the performance of the coaches. Duh!!!! They did an excellent job with a team that had serious depth issues. They exceeded expectations, so they got raises. It is that simple. Yes, it is very simple, which is what made this article so hilarious. It had me rolling on the floor.

  • SteveFC

    And yes, WriteSomethingDecent, Saban is an example. The weird proposition that a raise means you are happy where you are at is simply bizarre. Apply that to the business world. Any company that gives an employee a raise is satisfied with how the employee is doing and will not expect him to ever improve. It is just frickin hilarious. This guy had to be joking. He couldn’t actually believe his own article.

  • Rudy Schmidt

    “Do they watch football? And while Auburn’s offensive numbers improved from 2008 to 2009, who out there thinks this offense “works” against conventionally strong defenses?”

    Ummm, maybe you should actually try watching football, Newcsatle. That might help prevent you from writing something completely ignorant that makes you look even more inept than you really are. Since you are obviously in gross need of enlightenment, let’s take a look at the 3 best statistical defenses that AU faced last season, shall we?

    1) University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. UAT’s defense gave up an average of 244 yards per game. AU’s offense totaled 332. UAT’s defense surrendered 11 pts per game. AU scored 21.

    2) Ole Miss. OM’s D gave up 314 yds per game. AU tallied 401. OM D allowed 17 pts per game. AU scored 33.

    3) Tennessee. Average yds allowed: 318. Allowed to AU: 459.

    So, “who out there thinks this offense ‘works’ against conventionally strong defenses?” The answer would be anyone who actually watched AU play last year. PWND

  • bully_dawg

    Is Auburn rewarding “mediocrity” or did the current staff exceed the expectations of the people who sign their checks? This isn’t some white collar office environment, this is college football, you have to pay to play. Gus Malzahn turned Auburn’s offense around, it’s one of the three greatest turnarounds in terms of points and yardage in the last ten years. Based on that, is he worth a raise?

    If Auburn doesn’t pay him, somebody else most certainly will…in that case, will that other school be rewarding “mediocrity?” I think we all knew Chizik and Company wouldn’t show up and win 11 games, that was a given. But from 2008 to 2009, Auburn went from being noncompetitive (a shutout loss to Alabama) to having the eventual national champions dead to rights, something Florida and Texas failed to do.

    This talk is fueled by the pro-Bammer set, they insist Auburn is consumed with them but it’s the other way around. Even after winning a national title, they can’t get Auburn off the brain.

  • J. Newcastle

    @ Rudy Schmidt

    First, using words like “PWND” to end your otherwise interesting post doesn’t add to its validity.

    Second, I never intended the phrase “conventionally strong defenses” to be equated to “statistics.” I will allow for interpretation, however. My intention was to ask the question: “Where was Auburn’s vaunted offense against LSU? Where was it against Georgia or Alabama when it counted most?”

    Thank you for reading.

  • J. Newcastle

    Additionally, statistical comparisons like Rudy’s would be more valid if those stats represented common games between both teams. Stats are padded by games against lesser opponents; we all know that. Did Auburn outperform UT and Ole Miss? Yes. Did Auburn’s offensive numbers lead to a win against Alabama? No.

  • Rudy Schmidt

    “Additionally, statistical comparisons like Rudy’s would be more valid if those stats represented common games between both teams”

    Those stats are from the individual games played, no common opponents needed!! There are no “padded stats” there. The AU statistics I listed are the ones they accumulated against those specific opponents that I listed. They are not averages. I’m sorry if you couldn’t grasp the meaning of my reply.

    “to be equated to ‘statistics.'”

    Without stats, how else do you judge a team’s effectiveness? Statistically, those were the three best defenses AU faced, and AU obviously performed extremely well against them.

    “Did Auburn’s offensive numbers lead to a win against Alabama? No.”

    Where did I say AU won? Come on, little buddy. You’re just grasping at straws now. AU’s offense was much more effective against uat than the large majority of the other offenses that uat faced. Just because AU couldn’t stop a last minute uat drive, doesn’t mean AU’s offense didn’t “work.” It obviously did.

    “Thank you for reading”

    Don’t worry, your convoluted logic is so flawed and your writing so poor that I won’t be returning.

  • Josh Hathaway

    It’s amazing how someone can purport to read something and not actually understand a word of it. I didn’t say Saban should get a raise after seven wins. Not once did I say it was a good idea. Not one time. At all. Ever. Did. Not. Say. It. Moreover, none of you have provided a link to prove he got that raise. Alabama paid Saban $4M to come to the school from Miami. He got that money based on past accomplishments, not his 7 wins at Alabama. If he got a raise after that season, it was not justified based on seven wins. There. I’ve said it.

    Just because Auburn may have exceeded expectations doesn’t mean they aren’t rewarding medicority. They went from crap to mediocre. If that’s your idea of achievement, by all means reward it. Going 8-5 with that team was not a miracle worker performance. There are plenty of staffs who could have achieved that mid-level performance. The staff did not do an exceptional job. 8-5 is not an exceptional result.

  • http://blogcritics.org Lisa McKay

    Mr. Newcastle, like any other writer here, does not have the ability to delete comments. Site management does, however, and does so in accordance with our comment policy.

  • Josh Hathaway

    So funny. No one could criticize Auburn unless they’re a Bama fan. Riiiight.

    As to Auburn being the only staff returning all their coaches next year… well, it could be no one else wanted them. Many coaches leave one program because they’re in demand. The staff returning could be a net positive for Auburn. It could indeed play out that way. It could also be that they’re there because they’re not in demand at other programs. Yes, I know Gussie was rumored to be going elsewhere. Again, there are ways of looking at that.

    Every coach since Bear Bryant at Alabama had at least one 10-win season. The Stallings era was reasonably successful. The Saban era is young but great success has been enjoyed in a short time. The rest of those coaches? One great season in middle of a stretch of mediocrity. It takes time to know which direction something will go. Auburn has had one year of coach Chizik. That’s not a trend. “Going the right direction?” They had a better season than last year. That is still not a trend line. Waiting for him to prove something beyond that before raising his salary is not a ridiculous or stupid idea.

  • Josh Hathaway

    Axn, I’ll do what you lot didn’t. I’ll provide documentation to back my claim. This story says coach Saban was hired for 8 yrs and $32M (which breaks out to an average of $4M/yr) when he came aboard in 2007. I’ve never said he didn’t get a raise after the 2007 season but I’ve yet to see someone document that he did. Assertion doesn’t make something fact. I won’t call you a name for apparently being unwilling or unable to document your facts with anything more than assertions that “everyone should know it.”

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    wow. just imagine the response if Auburn were a good team. thanks for the chuckles

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    good grief. whoever took the machete to the comments really overdid it. It’s all rather boring now.

  • tedro74

    Was that horrid defense you spoke of the one that held Mark to 30 yards on 16 carries (that’s 1.9 per)and come closer to beating the Champs than anyone else other than the Vols. Hell yes – give ‘um a raise. I don’t like ‘um but I’m man enough to recognize and respect an achievement.

  • Mark

    Yes, 8-5 is not where we want to stay, but in the first year, Chizik has garnered more wins than we had last year, was competitive in all but two games, and got our recruiting back on track.

    That is progress. Plain and simple. That merits a raise.

    We paid our assistants very well. That’s why they stay here. We went after talent and did what it took to keep them. We have several future HC’s on staff. Taylor, Malzahn, Luper, Rocker, and Thigpen- probably Roof as well. Roof did a great job with minimal depth.

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