Hi, I’m Jerry. I used to post here a lot. This is what I hope will be a series of brief posts on Auburn’s 2012 coaching transition.
Listen: yes, damn it, it was worth it.
Don’t care how many times the guy at the airport is referred to as a prophet. Don’t care that Chizik made thousands of Auburn fans who relentlessly defended him for the better part of three years (myself included, most of the time) look like the gibbering blind fools so many outside of Auburn believe us to be. Don’t even care that the first half of the Texas A&M game was the single most hopeless moment I have ever felt watching Auburn football, the furthest into the black abyss of despair my team has ever flung me. (Yes, it was that bad. Shut up.)
I care about 49-0 and Reuben Foster’s tattoo some, yes. But not enough to answer the question “was it worth hiring Gene Chizik?” with anything other than the loudest YES I can muster.
Because what I really care about was that night in Glendale, not even two full calendar years ago–it cannot possibly have been that recent, can it?–when I sat in the upper deck of an alien domed stadium because they don’t play national title games at Jordan-Hare and still watched Auburn rush out of their tunnel. Auburn, actually in that strange place where they do play national title games–the navy blue jerseys, the burnt orange stripes on the sleeves pants, the white helmets with the Auburn logo I’d scrawled unrecognizably across a hundred sheets of notebook paper in 9th-grade geometry, each time daydreaming of that night or something like it.
They were there, right there. My Auburn Tigers. And then Kodi Burns scored a touchdown, Nick Fairley opened a fissure in the earth Darron Thomas fell into, Michael Dyer showed us exactly how much talent he’d waste, Wes Byrum kicked a field goal, and I watched that silly confetti fall from the rafters happier than I thought sports could make me.
That doesn’t happen if Gene Chizik isn’t hired to replace Tommy Tuberville. Some other team runs out of that tunnel, some team in different jerseys and helmets that doesn’t have Gus Malzahn as its offensive coordinator, Cam Newton as its quarterback, some team that didn’t have Chizik do whatever he did to keep it on its even keel amidst the Cam maelstrom and half-a-dozen deficits that should have been the end of it. (Surely, surely we can give Chizik this tiny crumb of credit). With another head coach at Auburn, someone else sits in the seat I sat in. Someone else gets to be that happy. Someone else is in this picture:
It’s true: it’s possible that some other coach could have found a way to guide that remarkable group of seniors to the same end result. But some three months and change before that night in Glendale, I became a father. It’s possible I could have fallen through some other leg of what Terry Pratchett called “the trousers of time,” gone somewhere else for college, married someone else, had some other daughter, been almost as happy. But I can’t look at my daughter and consider a universe where she doesn’t exist, exactly as she is, and not be revolted. Likewise, if you’ll forgive the over-the-top metaphor — she was born midseason during an Auburn national championship run — so I can’t look at that picture and even begin to wish Auburn had hired some other coach in 2008.
That’s not to say Jay Jacobs made the right decision, mind you. Sometimes a freshman quarterback will roll out, think he’s spotted an open receiver in the middle of the field, throw an across-his-body duck into a thicket of defenders, and have his receiver come down with the ball anyway because sometimes that happens. Sometimes a subpar athletic director will hire a 5-19 head coach who’s not actually one lick better than that record suggests, but who has one brilliant idea about who his offensive coordinator should be and who’s (just?) smart enough not to look the gift horse of Cam Newton in the mouth, one that comes down with a crystal football anyway because at Auburn sometimes undefeated seasons happen.
Chizik earned his pink slip. I’m of the opinion (one helped merrily along by the hoops teams’ failures) that Jacobs has earned one, too. But was it worth it? I watched my Auburn Tigers win a national championship. Of course it was.
You’re damn right it was worth it, and I’d do it all over again, and again….
WAR DAMN EAGLE!
Well said and WDE.
THIS. So much this.
I’d go 3-9 for 10 years as long as I could keep the feeling I had that night. There is a picture of me and the woman who is now my wife, mere minutes after that game ended, deliriously happy in the upper deck in Phoenix. That picture will be displayed wherever I live until I leave this earth, because it features two prayers that were answered.
Gene Chizik was as much a part of making that happen as anybody. There’s no way I change one single part of it.
Scottie B. says
You took the words right out of my mouth. Brilliant sir. War Damn.
Hell yes, it was worth that €30 cigar I bought and smoked. It was worth waking up at 2am and watching that game in so much nervous excitement that no one would have wanted to stand within 20 feet of me. And it was worth that no one did stand that close because I watched that game practically alone in my headquarters building in Kosovo. That season, and that night, were worth it all.
Deb the tigerette says
Hell to the yeah! I have nothing but gratitude for being able to have had the experience to be in Glendale and have that experience of sheer joy. WDE.
Susan Fulks says
That was the article I have been waiting for since Chizik was “fired!” Every time I see him, he is on that field in Glendale, Arizona, along with Cam, Nick, Dyer, the team, the other coaches, the managers, the assistants, the Auburn fans..and of course, came that one moment that sent shivers up my spine when Chizik lifted that crystal football over his head, claiming victory at last! It took about two more minutes to fully realize that Auburn had just won the BCS National Championship! OMG!!! I know the school had to make a decision after Auburn finished “last.” But forever more, I will think of him..standing on that field, celebrating with his team, holding that crystal ball over his head! All I can say at this point is that AU lost a man of character, a man of principle, a man of faith! I don’t really care who the next coach (well maybe. Just a little), I will go , instead, to a magical moment….on a field in Glensdale, Arizona,..watching an Auburn coach holding the crystal ball over his head, while celebrating with his team. Maybe the planets were aligned just right, comets streaking across the heaven, AU fan rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot, and having superman Cam Newton! Whatever, it worked! They were perfect! I always pray that I would live long enoug to see Auburn win a National Championship, and I did! Thanks Coach Chizik!
Wow. I think I sat right beside! Or damn close….
Spot on. Every word.
Was it worth it? You bet your arse it was worth it. I’m fifty one years old and last AU national championship in football before 2010 was more than four years before I was even born. 2012 sucked in a big way. But was 2010 a fair trade for that BCS crystal football and all the memories of that great season? In my mind that’s not even a question. Not even close. Of course it was worth it.
Fie on CBS for taking Jerry away.
Four years, one promising season, one disappointing season, one disastrous season, and one national title. I’ll take that as the fan of a school that — let’s face it — is one small step down from the elite programs. In fact, I’ll take it so much that I think the guy who compiled that record, and who is owed the GDP of a small Carribean island, should have gotten a year to turn it around.
My daughter was also born during the 2010 season (on a Saturday, but on the BYE week, praise war eagle) so maybe I’m overly sentimental.
Anyway, great analysis, as usual.
Totally agree! That was one of the top five best events of my 55 years of life! I will never forget how giddy I was that night, and can get right now just thinking about it! (P.S. I was sitting close to you, too!!)
My son (10 at the time) and I spend a magical 4 days on that trip, capped off by a field goal at the other end of the field. Never forget him crying like someone had run over his puppy. I said “What’s wrong?” and he says “I’m just so happy!” Then they put up video on the big screens of them rolling toomers and I’m crying too. Thanks, Coach Chiz, and War Eagle!!!
Yep. Wouldn’t trade Glendale for anything. Even after this year.
war eagle girl says
I told my husband that I didn’t care how much it costs ~ we were going!! We had some close AF friends out there and it was an awesome reunion weekend too!! We went on Friday before the snow . I was sad our neighbors never made it because they were in the last minute groups that got snowed in. We were offered $2500 for each of our seats the morning of the game. Are you kidding? Money meant nothing at that time ~ I was going to be in that stadium!! It was an unbelievable experience! After the field goal, I looked at my husband and said We Won! What? I had dreamed of it a long time after enduring the Barfield years that it was surreal. We celebrated at In and Out Burgers with all the other crazy people! No one wanted to go to bed. After we got back to our house out at Luke AFB, we all watched the replays and couldn’t go to sleep knowing we had flights later in the morning. Luckily we flew back in the gump and didn’t get stuck! Our daughter pregnant with twins (7 mos)went and it was rough on her but now we have pictures with the girls and the crystal football!! I could go on and on with stories……you bet it was worth every penny!!!!!! I have been to the mountaintop and it’s amazing how much more relaxed I am about football these days. Of Course, I would love another one but that first one for me will always be special!! War Eagle!
war eagle girl says
Y’all should write a book about the fan’s experience at the game ~ can you imagine all the stories everyone would tell ~ snow, flights, friends, people staying Vegas, LA and all over driving in because they couldn’t get a room in Phoenix….crazy way of getting tickets….some people snuck in……..experience with the Ducks……..
Good stuff, Jerry. It’s great to read you on the site again.
Stan McCullars says
Thanks for the post and for putting things in perspective. I have been down about the 2012 season and, to be honest, the joy of the 2010 championship season was somewhat diminished in my eyes because of this season. Thanks for reminding me what a joy it was!!! I will continue to wear my championship shirts with pride!!!
Jerry good to see your poast on WER.
And spot on as usual.
For me, it was that my Dad, 1950 alum, got to see AU win a MNC.
He attended the celebration in Jan and had a blast.
He has since gone to his reward but I thought of him often this season..
I miss him terribly, but still have AU and ’10 and the memories of him.
2012 is over, but 2010 will last forever.
Donovan Harris says
Yeah, if you remember back to the NC game the way Coach Chizik’s demeanor depicted such a strong leader. Calmly leading the troops and calling time out before the final seconds of the game. Confidently sending the field goal unit out to kick the winning points knowing Oregon could only stand helplessly by with no chance to get back on the field. That’s the coach I wanted to see this year, but he was nowhere to be found. Luckily, my wife and I were in Glendale to celebrate with all the other AU faithful in the stadium. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment to always remember. After the last two seasons, I know if we ever get back to a NC game, we will relish it even more understanding how quickly all the success can disappear so quickly.
Burl Wilson says
WDE, thanks, Jerry
War Eagle Jerry. Was really hoping you would poke your head back in for a little opinion on our current situation. Was actually thinking about some of the articles you had written from the last time we went through this. Thanks for reminding me how awesome 2010 was. I think I had truly forgotten during the horror that has been our 2012 season. What did we end up deciding on for 2008 – The Season of Death? May be time for a similar community exercise to commemorate 2012. Seemed to help cleanse the evil spirits last time around.
All In says
It was definitely worth it for me! I still get chills remembering seeing my Auburn tigers run onto othe field in Glendale to play for the national championship! I sat with my 23 year old daughter and she was so excited to see me get to experience the game! Running up and down the aisle after the kck hugging other Auburn fans!! In my 50 plus years of attending hundreds of Auburn games nothing even comes close(except maybe 1989 when We played Alabama for the first time in Auburn). That will always be a magical game for me!! War Eagle!