Meet the SEC's Newest Funniest Coach Contender: Gene Chizik
Auburn's new coach, Gene Chizik, has decided to challenge Lane Kiffin for the strangest recruiting tactics in the SEC. Two weeks ago, Auburn's “Tiger Prowl” spent four days parading around the state of Alabama. With stretch Hummer limos bearing Auburn flags and magnets filled with assistant coaches dressed like they were going to a bowling tournament, the stunt looked more like a gimmick to try to sell Sham-Wows or Snuggies.
Those in the Auburn camp are enthusiastic over the stunt (…which makes it even more hilarious!). Columnist Paul Finebaum from the Mobile Press-Register said, “In politics, you garner votes by exciting your base. You toss them red meat and hear them roar. The Auburn fan base was spitting fire last week,” and “In other words, it was a great week to be an Auburn Tiger.” Assistant Coach Curtis Luper said about the success of the trip, ``We couldn't have dreamt this in our wildest dreams!”
This might not rival the Tennessee pep talk / shirt-ripping incident, but it might be just as cheesy. It prompted Urban Meyer to say in an interview with Pat Dooley, “The Florida coaching staff will not be riding around in limos or ripping our shirts off.”
In the same interview Dooley mistakenly believed that the limos were actually taking recruits around, and he asked if the NCAA should investigate Auburn for allegedly illegally chauffeuring around recruits. Meyer said, “I think it should. We're trying to sell graduation rates and academics and trying the sing and dance routine.”
Although, Pat Dooley was misinformed and asked Meyer a question about something that would violate NCAA rules, columnists such as Mike Bianchi are calling for Meyer to apologize, and bloggers everywhere are making Meyer into a bad guy. Pat Dooley apologized in his column saying “When you make a mistake, you're going to hear it. Last week I had a Dooley Noted item about Auburn coaches parading recruits around in limos. I obviously misread the story because it was Auburn coaches in the limos going from school to school. War Eagle fans have corrected me with dozens of e-mails. My bad. Now calm down.”
Regardless of Dooley’s or Meyer’s comment, the biggest question is which coach will end up being a worse hire: Gene Chizik or Lane Kiffin? Lane Kiffin looks the early favorite after challenging Urban Meyer and calling out Pahokee High School, a school that churns out D-1 prospects, among other things. Yet, Chizik seems determined to give Kiffin a run for his money. Not only did he go 5 and 19 at Iowa State, but now he’s resorted to cheesy stunts to compete with Nick Saban for recruits in Alabama.
Gene Chizik would be wise to learn a few things about recruiting in the SEC, but apparently he has been talking to Lane Kiffin for advice. If Chizik or Kiffin want to compete with Urban Meyer or Nick Saban for the top recruits in the nation, then they need to be innovative like Meyer and relentless like Saban …but that shouldn’t include resorting to cheesy gimmicks. Plus stretch hummers aren’t really that cool anymore.
Ben Petitto is a columnist for GatorTailgating.com