Charles Barkley was very adamant in who he wanted to take over his Auburn Tigers when on TNT for NBA coverage last week. And with Auburn’s decision, Barkley is screaming foul.
Barkley called for Auburn to hire ex-Nebraska coach and quarterback Turner Gill — now head coach at Buffalo University. Barkley sited Gill’s wonderful job at Buffalo and his ability to turn a once laughing stock of Division I football into a conference champion in just three years.
However, Auburn decided to hire Iowa State head coach Gene Chizik instead.
Barkley came out after the official announcement of Chizik and claimed the only reason the Tigers didn’t hire Gill was because Gill happens to be an African-American.
“I think race was the No. 1 factor,” said Barkley, who played basketball for Auburn before a long NBA career. “You can say it’s not about race, but you can’t compare the two resumes and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst resume.”
And you know what? Barkley has a point.
Look at what these two coaches bring to the table:
Chizik is 5-19 over his two seasons as head coach at ISU. Sure Iowa State was 4-8 the year before Chizik took over, but Chizik has actually manged to make them worse. Not only that, but ISU was just one year removed from being tied for the North Title. Sure it’s difficult to recruit to a school like Iowa State — I mean who really wants to go to Ames? — but that’s not an excuse.
You know where else it’s hard to recruit players to?
Try Buffalo, NY., where it’s always cold and they play in a minor conference. Yet Gill has attracted players that never would have thought about Buffalo before, and has molded them into a class team. In the past two years Gill has lead a team that had won 10 games total — I’ll repeat that, TOTAL — in their first seven seasons, to 13 wins.
Heck, Gill has more wins this season than Chizik does in his head coaching career.
But Auburn AD Jay Jacobs said he had two main concerns. First was Gill’s lack of experience in the SEC — because coaching in the Big 12 was worse? And second was that Jacobs was concerned as to why he should hire Gill at Auburn if Gill was passed over at his Alma Mater after last season.
First of all, both those “concerns” are insulting when you choose Chizik as your coach.
Second, lack of experience in the SEC? Really? The Big 12 is a very competitive market, and just as tough to coach in. And then lets see Chizik take a horrible team and turn them into something respectable — oh wait, he can’t.
And then there was the concern about Gill being passed over at Nebraska. This was probably the most insulting and least informed statement Jacobs made. Did Jacobs even look at what state the Huskers were in while searching for a coach? Did he notice that the Nebraska offense was in great shape? Did he notice that NU needed stability on defense? Did he realize that Gill is an offensive coach?
Did Jacobs even pay attention to Gill during his interview, or was it just an interview set up so he didn’t look racist? And here’s the most important question, did Jacobs even consider the fact that Auburn’s defense is fine but he needs a lot of help on offense?
Gill is an offensive coach with a great track record. Chizik is a defensive coach who hasn’t shown he can lead a team. If those are your two options, you make the call.
Maybe race wasn’t a part — in fact I really hope it wasn’t — but Jacobs puts up a horrible defense against the argument when he hired Chizik. Gary Patterson? Sure. Brian Kelly? Go for it. Chizik? Not a chance.
Three words describe my feelings towards hiring Gene Chizik at Auburn right now: The Wrong Choice.