365 days a year to dominate.”
â€”Nick Saban at his 2007 press conference.
Today, Coach Saban put another brick in that wall. James Willis was the only legitimate coach on the Auburn staff. The only holdover from Tubberville’s regime, Willis was a solid down-to-earth coach on the plains. And four weeks into the Chizik circus, James Willis has come home to the Capstone. Like a speedboat cruising in to save you as you lose your last grip on the Titanic, Willis avoided the icy waters that encircle Auburn’s future to cruise away in luxury and style.
As the Auburn message boards melted down at the news today, the realization began to set in for Auburn fans everywhere. Head-to-head, Bama not only gets whatever recruit it wants, Coach Saban can lure any of your coaches away that are worth having. And James Willis, from his recruiting prowess to his on-the-field ability to relate to players, is definitely worth the hire. With his knowledge of the coaching in-roads in this state, there could not have been a more perfect hire to replace Thompson. Alabama is blessed to have a coach like Willis on the staff.
My question for Auburn fans though is this: how do you respond when you hear an All-American, Pat Dye recruit make statements like these?
â€œIâ€™m excited about the opportunity to come and work with Coach Saban at the University of Alabama.â€
And not because Auburn wouldn’t hire him. He was sitting pretty. He LEFT Auburn for Bama.
â€œHe is one of the best defensive coaches in the game and this is a chance to gain some great experience and learn from the best.”
Here’s where I get confused. All we heard from our Aubie friends when Chizik was hired was that he was a defensive guru…the defensive mastermind who led them to dominance in 2004. Did Willis just say Chizik wasn’t the best? Yep, I’ll clear that one up for you. Your All-American just tagged for you who your daddy is.
“You donâ€™t get many chances like that in the coaching business.”
Guess it won’t be hard to sell that idea to recruits. I can hear it now…”Listen, take it from me, I played in the SEC and in the NFL…you don’t get many chances to play for a coach like Coach Saban in your career.”
“When you combine that opportunity with the history and tradition at Alabama…”
Auburn friends, I thought tradition and history didn’t matter? Hmmm.
“…it was a decision that was best for me personally as well as professionally.”
Translation? Auburn 2009 and beyond = trainwreck. Bama 2009 and beyond = career catalyst and contender.
“I know my wife and the kids are as excited as I am to join Coach Sabanâ€™s staff.â€
Wait, doesn’t he know that Saban hates family and eats children? Once again, one of the weakest ploys in the Auburn bag. Saban invests in his coaches, and while there is serious work to be done, the notion that Saban doesn’t care about people–from his players to his coaches and their families–is a farce.
This is a GREAT hire. James Willis is a quality coach and a class act. And he’s home now. And if Auburn had not self-imposed recruiting sanctions against itself by firing a proven winner for Mr. 5-19, that home would still be in Auburn. But instead of battling South Alabama and Arkansas State for recruits, Willis will be cherry picking the Rival’s Top 100, coaching up the likes of Nico Johnson, Dante Hightower and Rolondo McClain. Yeah, I’d say that’s a good career move.
Welcome to Tuscaloosa, Coach Willis. Welcome home!