Shane: Respect Auburn’s pugnacity

You’ve got to respect Auburn’s pugnacity
By Shane from Centerpoint

Standing in the White House and being acknowledged by the President as the 2009 national champion leaves no doubt that the University of Alabama is once again an elite college football program – a powerhouse. At the rate they are progressing the Crimson Tide already owns the state and stands ready to dominate the entire SEC.

However, the Tide’s cross-state rival Auburn isn’t going down without a fight. They are not intimidated. With most of the SEC seemingly unable to compete with Alabama last year, Auburn took Alabama to the wire in the “Iron Bowl”. In fact, the Tiger’s performance during that contest gained enough respect from the BCS Bowl selection committee to earn them a New Year’s Day game.

Actually, somebody down on the Plains deserves major credit for realizing that Tommy Tuberville’s stale act wouldn’t stand a chance against a program on the verge of dominance like Alabama under Nick Saban.

In fact, Auburn’s made so many right moves lately that it’s almost as if the “master” Pat Dye is running the show again. He, or whoever’s calling the shots, knows Saban would’ve crushed the weak resistance that Tubby’s regime offered.

Nevertheless, the men running Auburn’s program also know that the Crimson Tide is stocked deep with awesome talent. They are also very aware that Saban is constantly adding layers of high-caliber athletes at every position.

On their side of the recruiting front Tiger leaders have been innovative. The best and boldest move made by Auburn officials so far has been the hire of Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper – two controversial recruiting experts who are currently at the top of their game.

With Saban being one of the best recruiters – and most effective closers – in the history of college football, Auburn is wise enough to know they can’t win a straight fight.

They’ve mostly stayed outside the box when recruiting and have been very successful in doing so. Tiger coaches utilize the press well, stage organized events, and time them carefully to attract the most attention. Some folks call these methods “gimmicks”, but the kids – the ones that matter – seemed to like the show and respect the effort.

If the end result is a top-five ranked signing class, then it is a step in the right direction. This year’s strong finish shows that Auburn leaders realize they must maintain a relentless pace if they want to improve Auburn’s chances against the mighty Red Elephants in the future.

SEC insiders are even claiming that Gene Chizik may be waiting around for Nick Saban to evaluate and select athletes and then sending his guys in behind Nick. People might claim that type of activity is classless. I say it’s good business. Isn’t Nick Saban the best analyst and evaluator in the nation?

The Crimson Tide’s accomplishments since 2008 are certainly amazing. Yet, Gene Chizik and his Auburn football program seem unaffected by the huge spotlight focused on western Alabama.

Clearly, Chiz has his program and fan base fired up. His greatest achievement to date is unifying a group left tattered and fractured by its former commander.

His 8-5 record aside, Chiz hasn’t blinked since he arrived on campus. While others – some of the Auburn “Family” included – doubted him, Chizik has been consistent and solid on all fronts.

In my opinion Auburn is playing the game the way it should be played when facing such a dominant football program like Alabama. They are focused on the internal things that will improve the team — mainly getting better players.

Recently, (now) former Auburn running back Ben Tate proclaimed that he is better than Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. He isn’t, but he believes that he is. That’s a start.

To win, you’ve got to believe first. If Chizik can get his team to think like Tate thinks, then he’ll stand a hard fighting chance to reap the rewards of the pugnacious puissance he’s instilling in this Auburn program.
Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.