Why I’m endorsing Bobby Petrino as Auburn’s new head coach
Auburn is in a very strange and somewhat dark place right now, similar to a place they found themselves 32 years ago. We’ve been under the illusion that things will get better next year, things will improve on and off the field and that we will be back soon enough to compete with the likes of LSU, Alabama and Georgia for the SEC title. We let things slide in 2011 when we won 8 games, but knew in the back of our minds that our biggest competitors blowing us out was perhaps a cause for concern. Then when 2012 came, things got bad in a hurry. Despite the odd good performance here and there, the 2012 Auburn team fell from grace at a rapid pace, and encountered one of the worst seasons in history. We knew there and then that the Chizik regime had to end, it just simply had to.
So now here we are, four years fresh off another coaching search, we’re here again trying to find the right man to tighten the ship and get Auburn back to winning ways. The truth is, things really do need to change for the better. Like I mentioned earlier, Auburn is in a very unfortunate place right now. Even though this programme is nearly in pieces, every other rival of ours is winning. Alabama are Alabama, a team that puts out really good teams every year with some great players, LSU are nearly there, finding some success here and there but are still a very tough team to beat when they are rolling, and then there’s Georgia, who are 11-1 and primed to play for an SEC title.
The SEC is only getting stronger, especially with the two new additions to the conference and realignment talk elsewhere as well. It’s crucial that we find the right coach now. For me, the choice is clearer than it’s ever been: Bobby Petrino.
Petrino will not be everyones first choice, and won’t even be on everyones list of choices. His scandal at Arkansas doesn’t impress many Auburn fans, and I don’t blame them. I’m not familiar with Petrino’s personal life, but in terms of affairs, you have to ask yourself what are the chances it happens again? He’s currently working hard on his marriage with his wife, whilst trying to support his family by finding another coaching job.
His tendency to lie has also caused a lot of debate, and even cost him his last job. Yes, his past is sketchy and it does require some concern, but the truth is that we simply do not know if he will or won’t do it or something just as bad again. Will he leave Auburn high and dry for another coaching job? We simply don’t know that either, you could argue that Auburn is a destination job; they play in the biggest and toughest conference in the land, one which guarantees you a spot in the National Championship game if you go undefeated, as well as giving you a fair shot with a loss as well. Is it a risk? Sure it is. Is it a risk that could reward us massively? You betcha’.
Another thing to point out, something we’re probably all looking for is that he’s a damn fine football coach. He’s won at both Louisville and Arkansas, two mid-level programs and has won well. He took both to BCS Bowl games, and even hard Arkansas as a National contender before he got fired. He had them going in the right direction, a direction that Auburn fans are now craving.
He also runs a pretty tight ship, and demands a lot out of his players and coaches. If you can win at Arkansas and Louisville, then you have a great chance to win anywhere.
But he can’t beat Nick Saban?! No, he didn’t beat Nick Saban when he was at Arkansas. But who has beaten Nick Saban in the last three years? Gene Chizik, Les Miles, Steve Spurrier and Kevin Sumlin. Are any of those guys but Chizik attainable? I really don’t think so. Petrino won a lot of games at Arkansas, a lot of which were against teams with considerably more talent.
And when you consider the fact that Auburn can put more money towards recruiting, coaches and general funding and is considered an easier place to recruit, you have to wonder where he could take us? I’ve always said that Auburn has everything but the right coach. Great facilities, fan-base, stadium, booster support and conference, but is missing the one guy that can take them to the next level.
Auburn went out and hired Pat Dye in 1980 because they couldn’t afford to fall further behind the pack. During this period, Auburn garnered 4 SEC titles and even had a team many considered good enough to win the National Title in 1983. Alabama’s nine-game win stream was also broken, and the football programme put itself in a new light.
Alabama are rolling, LSU are coming along and Georgia are getting stronger and stronger. Even other programs like Florida, Texas A&M and Ole Miss are putting together solid cores as well. Do we want to risk falling further behind with another gamble hire? We took a gamble with Gene Chizik and even with a National Title to boot, it backfired in the end and we’re here, starting all over and playing the catch up game. You play the risk/reward game with every new coaching hire, but in this case, Petrino represents Auburn’s best chance to win, and win quickly.
For me, the choice is clear. Make it happen, Auburn.