April 5, 2011

Q&A with Auburn AD Jay Jacobs

AuburnSports.com sat down with Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs last Tuesday to talk more in-depth about the Tigers' athletics programs including the future of men's basketball under coach Tony Barbee, his feelings on the football program under third-year coach Gene Chizik and more.


How do you feel about the overall state of Auburn Athletics?
"I feel great about it. I feel like we are as strong as ever. With the football team winning the SEC and national championship, a Heisman Trophy winner, a Lombardi Winner, how the softball team is doing, top 25, men's golf, the way Tony (Barbee) has the basketball team playing, swimming and diving, Brett Hawke, won the 15th consecutive SEC championship, equestrian won the SEC, baseball won the SEC West last year, (John) Pawlowski got us back to the SEC Tournament and we hosted an NCAA Regional.

"Even with all of the championships, the thing that I'm most proud of is we have a record number of our student athletes, 234 of them, with a 3.0 GPA or better. That number is up from a record number of 207 from last year. Fifth percent of out student athletes have a 3.0 GPA or better.

"I think the overall state of Auburn Athletics is great."

In the last three years, you have hired a head coach in the three major men's sports: football (Gene Chizik), baseball (Pawlowski) and basketball (Barbee). How do you feel now about the hires and the state of those programs under the new coaches?
On the football program under Chizik…
"When I hired Gene, he came in under a lot of controversy…only me and one or two others really believed in the hire. But having been here and worked with him, I trusted him. I knew he was a very smart football coach and I knew he would outwork most. If you can get somebody that is smart, is willing to outwork others, someone you can trust and is a man of integrity, you can be successful with them.

"In two years, he won the SEC championship, the national championship, Heisman winner, Lombardi winner, All-Americans, National Coach of the Year, two top-five recruiting classes and working on a third one for 2012…I couldn't feel better about the direction of our football program under Gene. To be able to keep eight of our nine assistant coaches together was huge for us because we hadn't been able to do that in a number of years. To keep the same consistency with coordinators is huge. We certainly hate that Tracy (Rocker) left (for a job with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL), but it's wonderful to have Mike Pelton here. You can just see the gleam in his eyes.

"This spring, the football team only has 47 scholarship athletes and Gene and I knew coming into this that 2011 was going to be the challenge simply because of the drop off in numbers. This fall will be challenging to say the least. Certainly we are still enjoying the national championship, the first one at Auburn in 53 years, but realistically we know this fall will be challenging, but as we have all seen the last couple of years those guys will fight the Auburn way, they will play hard and will be a great representation for Auburn University. We are looking forward to 2012 and 2013 really, when we get our numbers back to where we need to be....

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