October 31, 2012

Gogue facing big choice

AUBURN -- As the Tigers' slide turned from alarming to nearly terminal last weekend, the situation facing president Jay Gogue became even more pressing.

Auburn supporters haven't been shy in voicing their concerns about coach Gene Chizik's ability to steer the football program competently. Gogue acknowledged the inbound flood of opinion in his statement last week, yet he clearly wants to stay out of this mess as long as he can.

It's the right move for him.

It's the right move for Auburn.

Gogue has said he's not in the business of hiring and firing coaches; he employs athletic directors to handle that chore. To go back on that statement now would make Gogue seem unsure, which is the last trait a president needs to show in times of tumult.

Firing Gene Chizik before the Iron Bowl will require the kind of upheaval that won't soon be forgotten on the Plains. Athletic director Jay Jacobs, whose close relationship with Chizik is the reason he's at Auburn right now, will resist any suggestions or overtures related to terminating the Tigers' head coach.

After all, Jacobs signed off on Chizik's revised contract in 2011 that yielded a $1.3 million salary bump and a buyout-protection clause believed to be the most generous in the history of college athletics. Chizik is Jacobs' guy - for better or worse.

Jacobs can't quit on Chizik now.

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