Shane: Auburn gains momentum

Auburn gains momentum with amazing recruiting success
By Shane from Centerpoint

New head coach Gene Chizik came to Auburn amid controversy and doubt. The infamous “heckler” incident along with the Tiger fan base’s general lack of confidence in the young football coach’s abilities (mainly due to his 5-19 career record) were indicative of the uphill battle he’s faced from the minute he arrived.

In spite of that and other negative perceptions created during the off-season, Auburn came out of the blocks with a fast start. Coach Chizik’s team looked extremely sharp and left a positive initial impression on the college football world by racking up five straight wins.

Those victories created a buzz and the talking heads started giving Chizik some attention. Auburn was getting national coverage during the “run” and the Tigers head coach apparently used that boost to enhance recruiting.

The bottom half of the season was not as successful to say the least. Auburn went 2-5 with Ole Miss being its lone Southeastern Conference victory.

Objectively speaking, Chizik and his staff left something to be desired with the late season collapse. However, the difficulties on the field didn’t seem to affect Auburn’s image with young high school athletes and their parents.

Apparently, from a recruiting standpoint Chizik was somehow able to overcome the usual disinterest a program tends to suffer from when the football team isn’t successful.

Almost magically, he and his crack staff were able to maintain the loyalty of some of the nation’s finest athletes.

The most amazing thing about that is they were able to keep almost all of those players on board without the recruiting coordinator, Trooper Taylor, who was limited from personal contact for most of the season.

Early on, critics and opponents alike made fun of the assistant coach’s “Limo Tour” and shook their heads when Auburn staged “Big Cat Weekend”. To most people the combination of Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper was humorous at best.

Nobody’s laughing now. Especially after Auburn signed one of the school’s all-time best classes last week. It is more than evident to me that the system Auburn utilizes is very effective.

One of the best things Chizik was able to do to take the sting out of an average first season was to bring in a signing class that shows so much promise that the Tigers fans are ready to move along to next year. The entire Auburn “family” has been re-energized.

That brings another thought about the Auburn fan base. They’ve completely bought in to Chizik’s idea that Trooper and Luper should serve as the face of Auburn’s recruiting program.

It would be difficult to make a case against the Tiger’s dynamic duo after they rounded up a consensus top-five recruiting class this year.

Actually, most head coaches want the spotlight focused their way, but Chizik must feel that Taylor needs to have free reign to do his job. And, even if Trooper gets caught cheating a few times, his “bang” is worth the “buck”. I find it hard to disagree.

The reality is that Auburn made a significant step toward being competitive with the better SEC teams in the future by signing this tremendous class.

Truthfully, Gene Chizik knows he will have to duplicate this top-five group at least two more years running if he hopes to have a shot at an SEC crown. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Alabama and Florida are loaded from top to bottom.

Give the man credit. He appears ready to “push the envelope” when recruiting and he has the guts to hire professional recruiters to push it for him.

One thing the Auburn coach has shown me. He knows he has to utilize unconventional methods and employ questionable tactics to improve his odds and have a fighting chance when facing the likes of Urban Meyer and Nick Saban.

At least Chizik is ready to fight for Auburn, unlike like their last coach who just rolled over and quit.
Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.