Safe to say it’s been a pretty tough fall for Auburn coach Gene Chizik. Just two years after riding the Cam Newton wave to a BCS title, things are bleak on the Plains, where Auburn is 1-4, playing uninspired football, and coming off one of the most embarrassing losses the program has ever suffered: It came Saturday, and it came to that pitiful Pop Warner outfit that calls themselves the Arkansas Razorbacks. And it came by double-digits, at home and off a bye week.
And it also may have been the straw that broke the Chiz’s back. Tempers are flaring down at Auburn, and the throne that Chizik once sat upon has turned into a scotching hot-seat. Auburn fans are fed-up. And they want Chizik out as their football coach.
However, what I found most interesting about the meltdown on the Plains last Saturday, was that at the exact same time it was happening, I couldn’t help but notice that the fans of my alma mater UConn, were essentially voicing the same concerns about the state of our football program as well. Like at Auburn, we want our coach gone. We want a fresh start.
And it was at that moment that I had an epiphany: Here were two fan-bases that have nothing in common, except that they both want a new man to lead their football teams. It also got me thinking, “Well crap, if Auburn fans don’t want Chizik, UConn fans would be glad to have him.” Sure he’s not a great coach, and frankly, who knows if he’s even a good one. But heck, he can’t be worse than what we have, right?
I took the concept to Twitter, started the hashtag #ChizikToUConn, and was stunned at how quickly both fan-bases took to the idea. UConn fans loved the idea of bringing in a big-name coach (even if he is damaged goods) and on the reverse side, Auburn fans are so ready to get rid of Chizik, a few practically offered to drive him to the airport themselves. Please understand, that’s only a slight exaggeration; I had Auburn fans actually offer to give me money towards his next contract just to get him out of town, with one even sacrificing his own personal time to help Chizik pack. Who said SEC fans were ruthless?
Anyway all this led me to one simple conclusion: We need to make #ChizikToUConn happen.
How? I’m not sure, especially since UConn almost assuredly won’t have an opening for a head football coach this winter. Even if they did, they’d have a better chance of getting Gene Simmons to fill it than Gene Chizik.
Still, just for fun I decided to write Chizik an open letter and explain to him the merits of my school, and why he should be the next man to lead our football program.
#ChizikToUConn is about to be a thing. It’s time to make it happen.
Here is that letter:
Dear Coach Chiz-
Wait, I can call you ‘Coach Chiz,’ right? I definitely don’t want to start this letter on the wrong foot, but the more I think about it, the more I realize you’ve got bigger things to worry about than some young writer referencing you by an obscure nickname. Besides, you don’t want to get on my bad side coach; I’m one of the 17 people left in America that still believes in you and just one of four who isn’t related. That’s another story for another day, though.
Yup, that’s right coach, I’m guessing you don’t need me to tell you it’s been a tough fall, and that right now your approval rating is lower than Mitt Romney’s in the 18-24, “pot smoking, guitar playing, occupy-whatever-the-hell-they’re-occupying these days” demographic. At 1-4 your seat is about as hot as Nick Saban is on the recruiting trail right now. Woops, that was probably a bad metaphor to use in this particular moment.
Still, the more I think about your team as we near the midway point of the season, it isn’t so much the record, but the context behind it. After all, having only one win is bad enough, but when it comes against Louisiana-Monroe (cough…in overtime… cough), well, that’s never a good sign. It also wasn’t a good sign when your team lost to Arkansas last week, a club which has quit so egregiously on their coach that I swear I saw John L. Smith filling out a job application for Panera Bread on the sideline last Saturday. It might be even more telling that your Tigers opened as a six-point favorite at Ole Miss this weekend, and now the game is practically a pick ‘em. Vegas always knows, coach. And what they know is that right now you’ve got a crappy football team.
What’s even scarier is that as bad as your team’s record looks on paper, watching every Saturday is more frustrating than being Brian VanGorder’s personal hair stylist (not that he has one, but you get the point). Your offensive line can’t block anyone (your Tigers are ranked 93rd in rushing), your defense can’t tackle (77th in total defense) and there are a handful of third-world surgeries that seem less painful than watching your quarterbacks handle a huddle. Just about the only strength your club can hang their hats on is the defensive line, and well, even they got pushed around like rag dolls in Week 2 against Mississippi State. And you don’t need me to tell you that Mississippi State isn’t Georgia or Alabama. Heck, for all we know they might not be Texas A&M for that matter.
Add it all up, and it seems like the walls are closing in on you pretty tight coach, but thankfully, you do have at least one supporter left. I’m not going to give away who, but let’s just say he’s got 10 fingers, 10 toes, a slightly lopsided head (at least accordingly to my ex-girlfriend) and is writing you an open letter right now.
Ok, ok, it’s me!
That’s right Coach Chiz, I’m not someone caught up in the heat of the moment, but a guy who understands the big picture of college football. I understand that Auburn went from five wins to eight in your first season on the job, and that you backed it up with eight wins a season ago too, despite playing quite possibly the toughest schedule in college football. I also remember every moment of that magical 2010 season like it was yesterday; right down to that goofy leather jacket you wore to celebrate the win. Again, I believe in you coach. I’ve even going to grab my “All In” t-shirt out of the closet when I finish penning this letter.
And it’s because I like you so much, that I’m willing to offer you the chance of a lifetime, the ultimate “Get out of Jail Free” card. Much like Auburn fans, the folks at my alma mater UConn are none too happy with the state of our football program. At 3-3 and with an offense that makes “watching paint dry” look fun by comparison, we want change.
No, I take that back, we NEED change.
And we need you coach Chiz. Forget the “Auburn family” coach Chiz, they’re sooooo 18 months ago. It’s about the “UConn family” right now. And we’re ready to welcome you in.
Now granted I can say with authority this almost assuredly won’t happen. There’s about a 99.9 percent certainty we won’t be firing our coach this off-season, and even if we did, I doubt you’d come up here for your next job. I know you’re a Southern guy, with Southern roots, and if I had to take a guess, would say that you probably couldn’t even find Connecticut on a map, let alone be willing to buy a plane ticket to come check us out. Besides, I also know you’ve done the whole “cold-weather” coaching stop before at Iowa State, and it didn’t really work out as planned. In your defense though, 5-19 can’t possibly be as bad in reality as it looks on paper, right?
Still, hear me out on this, because we can make this work. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows new UConn athletics director Warde Manuel, so I can put the two of you in touch, and I’m even willing to throw in the $47 in my checking account to get the ball rolling. Not to mention we can offer you a choice of two golf course memberships, Jim Calhoun’s old parking spot and the best fall foliage you’ll ever see. Heck, we’ll even let you bring Trooper Taylor along too. Correction, you WILL bring Trooper Taylor along. That’s my one and only request. Otherwise, you’re free to run the program as you see fit. There won’t be any meddling from us UConn fans.
As a matter of fact, that’s one of the best things about this UConn job. We’re a state school, with state money, backing up a state program, fill the stadium every Saturday, and travel better to bowl games than most in our conference (don’t let those Fiesta Bowl numbers fool you, we did travel well to that game in 2011). But the best thing is that as much as we care, we don’t care that much, at least not relative to Auburn fans. That whole “We want a leader, not a loser” thing, yeah, that will never happen at UConn. Remember, we’re a football program that did gainfully employ Randy Edsall for a full decade.
All jokes aside though, Edsall is learning now just how good he had it here at UConn; as a matter of fact when he quit and left for Maryland, I argued that UConn is one of the most ideal jobs in college football. No one is arguing it’s one of the “best” obviously, but the most ideal. Edsall had all the resources any coach could ever need, in a conference that- for the most part- is ripe for the taking every season. Still, he took what he had for granted, in the way Derek Jeter takes dating supermodels the same way.
Speaking of the job, the best part about it is that you get all those things at a basketball school, and a place where hoops will never overtake football in importance. Again, UConn fans care and will show up at home games to root for the team, but for many, football is a simple diversion until hoops season picks up in early August. And I mean seriously, wouldn’t it be nice to have the heat shift off of you in mid-October, rather than intensify? I say so.
Besides, even if you did start losing (Which you won’t, I mean, have you met Skip Holtz??), we will be patient… if only because it’s been a long time since we’ve seen what quality football looks like. As things stand we’re just 8-10 since the start of the 2011 season, a number that doesn’t look so bad, until you realize that four of those eight wins have against FCS schools (Fordham, and the transitioning UMass) and Buffalo. We’re also just 4-8 against teams from FBS conferences, and are coming off an embarrassing loss a couple weeks ago to Western Michigan. At the very least, you can beat Western Michigan, right Coach Chiz? Wait, don’t answer that!
Really though, much like your situation at Auburn, it isn’t just that we’re losing games, but how we’re losing them. Our defense is always good, our running game is usually on point too (although not this year), but man, oh man, most of us wouldn’t know a good quarterback if threw a wobbly half-spiral right into the ground two feet in front of us.
Meaning, not only are you welcome, but you’re more than welcome to bring Kiehl Frazier along for the ride too! Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize that UConn is already built to do exactly what you want to do: We play defense, we run the ball (occasionally) and at this point, our fans have been trained like Pavlov’s dog to be immune to any sort of passing game. You wouldn’t have to change up a thing from what you’re doing, and you wouldn’t have to do it against Nick Saban, Les Miles or Mark Richt either. It’s a match made in heaven!
So in the end Coach Chiz, I really do think you need to skip town, get out ahead of the posse and come to UConn. We’re a school that will never put your program before the basketball team, never harass you at the airport, and a place that will always embrace an eight-win season, rather than chastise it. In other words, we’re the perfect job, for a perfectly average, run of the mill coach.
That coach is you Coach Chiz, and we want you at UConn.
At your introductory Auburn press conference you said “It’s good to be home.”
Welcome to your new home, coach.
Also for his continued take on all things sports, and updates on his articles, podcasts and giveaways, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook.com/AaronTorresSports or by downloading the Aaron Torres Sports App for FREE for your iPhone or Android Phones)
@Aaron_Torres Why in the world would you want to hire Chizik? I just don't get it. Why do that to your program? #ChizikToUConn
@CMD_77 UConn football is terrible. Even if he didnt pay his quarterbacks, he could win in the Big East.
@Aaron_Torres Kentucky football is terrible, but I care enough about the program to not want Chizik. There are so many better options...
@29sonski as 1) Prepared 2) Someone who sits around and watches college football enough to have any idea who the "hot" candidates are
@29sonski Yeah, it's funny I never understood why schools used search committees until the UConn job opened up. Jeff Hathaway didn't strike
@29sonski job will elicit good response when it opens. The last time the process was so rushed, it's hard to know what candidates may have
@29sonski That would be a damn good choice. I don't know enough to know if Pasqualoni is on the hot seat or not, but I do believe the UConn
@KevinOnCFB @29sonski @Aaron_Torres yeah, why Roof might be better. Hard to judge vs Navy, Temple, Illinois. I'll tell after Neb, Wisc, OSU
@collegiatestdms @29sonski @Aaron_Torres Honestly though, Tom Bradley's defenses gave up plenty of first downs too.
@29sonski @Aaron_Torres honestly might be slightly better. Haven't looked at stats. 1st 2 games were awful on 3rd downs but stellar lately