Limo stunt exposes Chizik

Auburn’s new coaching staff should earn high marks for trying. The limo stunt shows a grasp of the public relations debacle that has been Auburn recruiting for the last few years; however, sending seven coaches out in a limo illustrates Gene Chizik’s failure as a head coach. As a head coach you have to weigh the public relations benefits with the tasks of managing a program. Sending out seven coaches en masse shows a useless replication; it is a misuse of resources that explains 5-19.

Sending out one small team of coaches in a limo shows a grasp of public relations, but allocating seven? You could make the same splash by sending out your coordinators in style and the other coaches to other destinations to maximize coverage. Even if you don’t have them all on the road, there are a host of things which must be done to win at recruiting—even in the office.

Think of it from a business perspective. If you have seven salesmen in your office, do you send all seven to one client? If you do, you are neglecting your other targets. At most, you will send one or two and utilize the others to maximize your workforce.

Auburn’s explanation for the limo is the impression it makes on recruits. Kevin Scarbinsky provides the reasoning in his latest column, “Showing up in force and in style is about recruiting, and recruiting is about making an impression on teen-age boys.”

That is true. To a point. Recruiting is about making the biggest impression on the most recruits in the limited time available. It is why coaches like the Alabama Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban work without rest on the recruiting trail. There are hundreds of recruits and not enough hours in the day to evaluate and execute all the other tasks necessary to land a top recruiting class.

Scarbinsky also contends the limo is for recruits. Really? It looks more like the limo is for the fans—it is a giant statement saying Auburn cares about in-state recruiting. Auburn hasn’t done very well in Alabama over the last couple of recruiting classes. In 2009, the Alabama Crimson Tide landed eight of the Rivals Top 10 recruits in the state of Alabama; Auburn landed zero. In 2008, the Crimson Tide landed seven of the Rivals Top 10 recruits in Alabama; Auburn landed zero.

See the problem?

The problem isn’t public perception of recruiting; the problem was actual work on the recruiting trail. Auburn needs to work harder and smarter. Publicity stunts are fine, but when you waste precious resources like time and personnel, it shows why Chizik was a failure as a head coach at Iowa State. Auburn fans have been warned about Chizik’s ability to waste time on the practice field—he is now wasting time on the recruiting trail playing to the fans.

And he is focused on the state of Alabama in a down year. Is this another tactical blunder? From the strategic view it is critical for Auburn to get top players from the state again. If it doesn’t happen soon, Auburn could become even more passe than it already is. But the tactical problem is the more immediate—the state doesn’t look like it will produce the same level of talent as the last three years. Talent will be good, but it won’t be dominating (if we can trust such forecasts.) If the strategic decision to flood Alabama with Auburn recruiters doesn’t payoff immediately, the talent gap with Alabama will widen. The Crimson Tide isn’t just recruiting Alabama, but throughout the region.

While Auburn coaches are going around en masse, Alabama coaches are working in the Saban manner. Which one do you think will carry the day?