There, I said it. What I’ve seen from Lee County in relation to the Tiger basketball program is enough to make even someone like myself say those blasphemous words, as Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs is leading the charge to bring the Auburn basketball program back to relevancy.
Last week, minutes after getting run out of the gym by a horrible…awful…South Carolina Gamecock basketball team, Auburn basketball coach Tony Barbee was met by Jacobs. Paid well to make the tough decisions, Jay made one on behalf of the program he loves. And it was the right move.
18-56 in conference play doesn’t lie, and Auburn University didn’t invest in a state-of-the-art basketball arena for those kind of results.
So Jacobs stepped up, put on his big boy pants, and did what was necessary for the good of the program.
Days later, Jacobs is reported to be in talks with former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl, a hire that would send shockwaves across the Southeastern Conference, if not the country.
Across the state, Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant sunk the Tide basketball program to depths I have never witnessed in my lifetime. In his five years at the helm, Alabama has only had one losing season, but in his tenure the Tide hasn’t darkened the threshold of meaningful basketball in years.
Auburn has not seen the NCAA Tournament in 11 years. Bama last went dancing in 2012…a two-step 1st round exit, compliments of Creighton.
Auburn’s program was going nowhwere under Tony Barbee, and Auburn University acted. Alabama’s basketball future is bleak under Anthony Grant, and Alabama Athletics Director Bill Battle sat on his hands, sending out a lame email about his support for the Tide’s worst basketball coach since the 1960’s.
Somewhere David Hobbs is shouting “Why couldn’t Bill Battle have been AD when I was there!”
And for that matter, I do too! Don’t we all want a boss like Bill Battle, a man who sets aside inconsequential things like results, revenue, game attendance and overall fan interest in the program (or the lack thereof) in order to keep a man employed at almost $2 Million a year?
Across the state, Jay Jacobs saw what needed to be done and did it in order to right the ship. There is no reason Auburn basketball, with the resources Auburn has committed to it, can’t be consistently competitive. And if they do hire Bruce Pearl…or at least get a man in line with that line of thinking…Auburn basketball will be tough to beat for the foreseeable future.
In Tuscaloosa, however, the beat goes on, and the beatdowns, at least in 2014-2015, will continue.
Yes, when it comes to basketball, Auburn gets it, and I applaud Jacobs for not bowing to silly political correctness and other clutter in doing the right thing. I’ll even say a War Eagle to that.
But in Tuscaloosa, all Battle did was demonstrate that we’re eager to embrace Crimson mediocrity, taking on the role of “little brother” on the hardwood.