For the last few weeks there seems to have been little doubt that Gene Chizik will be fired as head coach of the Auburn football team.
On Wednesday a report surfaced that the beginning stages of the process may have already begun.
The reports came via a paid link on the 247Sports.com Auburn affiliate, AuburnUndercover.com, and indicated that Auburn president Jay Gogue has informed the school’s board of trustees that while no decisions have officially been made, Gogue is in the process of putting together a committee, in the event that Chizik were to be fired at the end of the season and that a replacement needed to be named.
The Auburn Undercover report also indicated that athletic director Jay Jacobs (who has come under quite a bit of fire himself over these last few years) would remain in his position, but that executive associate athletic director Tim Jackson would be reassigned within the program.
If it were true, and if Chizik were eventually fired, it would mark one of the most precipitous downfalls of any coach in college football history. It’s no secret that Chizik won a National Championship two years ago, and even last year he won eight games against arguably the toughest schedule in the sport. Yet after starting out this season 2-7 and 0-6 in SEC play it would be no surprise if a move was made. Frankly, the only thing that may have kept Auburn from firing Chizik already is his buyout, which will drop to an even $7.5 million on December 1.
And although there doesn’t appear to be anything even close to official with Chizik right now, rampant speculation has already begun on who might replace him if he does get canned.
The 247 Sports report indicates that current Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has been named a candidate, a name which isn’t likely to get Auburn fans particularly fired up about their potential coaching vacancy.
Rumors are also quickly spreading about the possibility that former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino will get a serious look from Auburn should Chizik be let go, a name which frankly shouldn’t surprise college football fans anywhere. Remember, Petrino secretly met with Auburn about coaching their team in 2003, at a time when Tommy Tuberville was still their head coach. Tuberville next lost his job, and ended up leading Auburn to a 13-0 mark in 2004.
Regardless, the Petrino-to-Auburn rumors only picked up steam on Thursday, when Petrino’s father, Bobby Petrino Sr. went on the record with the Louisville Courier-Journal and said that one school had already been in contact with his son about coaching them next year. That school was not Kentucky, which led many to believe that it was a school without a current opening, but one that might be expecting one soon.
Do the math, and could it lead it Petrino to the Plains?
We’ll find out. And this is definitely one college football situation to keep a close eye on.
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