Posted: 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 14, 2013
By Chris Fuhrmeister
Auburn president Jay Gogue posted an open letter on the university's website Monday, stating he's ready to make improvements to the athletic department and move forward. However, it doesn't sound like any of the improvements will be at the athletic director position, where Jay Jacobs has overseen a steep decline in the Tigers' on-field results.
"There's much to celebrate about Auburn Athletics, but there's also room for substantial improvement. I look forward to Jay providing the leadership needed to make the necessary improvements."
In fairness to Gogue and Jacobs, there has been some recent success. Gene Chizik, a Jacobs hire, won the BCS Championship in 2010, and that shouldn't be forgotten. The women's golf team is headed to the NCAA Championships, and the gymnastics team has become a perennial top-25 program. Oh yeah, the equestrian team just won a national title! War Damn Horse!
But for the most part in recent years, and especially in the sports that Auburn fans really care about, the Tigers have been awful on the field. Of the Big Three -- football, men's basketball, baseball -- John Pawlowski's hardball club is having the best run this academic year, and it is currently 11-16 in SEC play and a longshot to make the NCAA Tournament. It's a sad state of affairs when that's as good as it gets. Chizik may have led Auburn football to the mountaintop, but he quickly plunged it to the bottom of the gorge. Tony Barbee hasn't given any indication that he can make something of the basketball program.
Gogue isn't the only one with faith in Jacobs. Mac Crawford, who served on the recent six-man committee that looked into the athletic department and made recommendations for change, and was also a part of the three-man group that picked new head football coach Gus Malzahn, released a statement expressing his support for the AD
"Our review shows that overall, the Athletics Department is in good shape, but there are some areas where improvements can be made and our committee believes Jay Jacobs knows how to make those improvements. Now it's time to move forward, get to work, and become even more successful. Dr. Gogue has listened to our recommendations, and I think that's good news for Auburn and for Auburn Athletics."
The downfall of Auburn sports has come under Jacobs's watch, which is even more frustrating with the recent discovery that the athletic department made the 10th-most money in the country last year. To really get back on track, Auburn either needs to make a change at the top, or Jacobs needs to significantly adjust his philosophy.
Jacobs will announce the committee's recommendations later Tuesday, and it sounds like he isn't going anywhere. If he doesn't change the way he operates, whatever "changes" the group recommends will be meaningless.