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Post The best Auburn could do?

Wednesday December 17, 2008

Was Auburn’s hire of Gene Chizik racially motivated? Charles Barkley seems to think so. If race played into the decision, then shame on Auburn. I tend to agree that the whole coaching search reeks more of inept cluelessness than it does overt bigotry. Auburn did at least interview two black candidates – how many other schools with openings this offseason can say the same?

Not to get too far into Limbaugh/McNabb territory here, but when exactly did Turner Gill become the fusion of Knute Rockne, Eddie Robinson, and Bill Belichick? Chizik seems to have been a poor hire, but – other than the buzz from hiring a black coach – would Gill have really been the best choice for the job? Better? Probably. But the best Auburn could do? Put another way, Brady Hoke, a MAC coaching peer who led Ball State to a 12-0 regular season and was upset by Gill’s Buffalo team in the MAC championship game, parlayed his accomplishment into a job at San Diego State.

Gill has done very well to turn Buffalo from one of D-1’s worst programs into a winner, but does that make someone as much of a no-brainer to head one of the bigger SEC programs as it’s made out to be? Really, it comes down to this: Alabama aimed for Nick Saban. Auburn was deciding between the likes of Gene Chizik and Turner Gill. Either way, they’d fall short of the mark set by their rival.

Gill, for his part, has now said "no, thanks" to Iowa State and other potential offers for the time being. He has signed an extension and will remain at Buffalo for at least another season. Don’t weep for Turner Gill. The net result of this firestorm has been to elevate his name recognition far beyond that of coaches at comparable programs, and the Buffalo program is now on the map. If he follows up this year with another strong season at Buffalo, he’ll be buried in offers. I expect we’ll see Buffalo on a few of those midweek ESPN games next season, and I’ll be among those watching.

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