From the Sidelines: What should Jacobs do next?
So for better or worse, this is where Auburn stands. After a 5-7 season with a team whose lackluster offensive talent would have struggled to compete in any conference, the university is now without its most legitimizing factor, the head coach who returned the program to national prominence.
This was not at all the best thing that could have happened at Auburn as the short list of candidates seems pedestrian in comparison to the resume Tommy Tuberville will soon polish when he decides that “remaining in the Auburn family” does little to compare with the satisfaction of running a major college football program.
Granted, Tuberville is not without his faults. He was never known for his recruiting prowess. He possessed an inability to refrain from meddling in the offense. And he seems to burn through coordinators faster than Flavor Flav goes through girlfriends. But at the end of the day, he was the best man for the job in Auburn.
Now, AU AD Jay Jacobs is saddled with the task of finding the guy who will attempt to follow the success the now-departed Tuberville had during his tenure at the school.
The odds would say that this next hire is likely to be a bust. Expectations are clearly sky high as is, and Auburn’s next head coach will likely be charged with taking the program to that fabled “next level” that everyone seems to enjoy talking about so much.
So, since the chances of making a home run hire this go-round are slight and Jay Jacobs’ competence is already in question anyway, he should aim high during this job search.
Texas Tech head man Mike Leach is not big enough. It is, at best, a lateral move from Tuberville. And Auburn needs to really shake things up if it is going to explode back onto the national scene.
So Jacobs should put together a wish list. He should include the sexiest names that come to mind; Will Muschamp, Joker Phillips, Bobby Jindal.
Call Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. After he finishes laughing, Jacobs should dust off the old dignity, sell Stoops on the fact that all the great coaches can win in the SEC, lace his pitch with a hint of Southern hospitality and follow it with a bank-breaking offer that puts Nick Saban’s annual salary in the rearview mirror.
Once Stoops respectfully declines, go down the list and do the same for guys like USC’s Pete Carroll, Florida’s Urban Meyer, Ohio State’s Jim Tressel and even the aforementioned Saban. Then make one last-ditch phone call to former Pittsburgh Steeler coach Bill Cowher and see if he is ready to come off his hiatus long enough to try his hand at the college game.
All may seem like ludicrous options. However, no one ever outkicked his coverage without trying. (See Tampa Bay Bucaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia and his wife, Carmella DeCesare. But don’t see it too long. That is just frustrating.)
Once all of those calls have been made and not one name remains on the wish list , Jacobs should sit back, drink in the fact that not one of his viable candidates is nearly as good for the program as Tuberville and then elect to go out with a bang since he will undoubtedly be in the unemployment line within the next two years anyway.
How does Jacobs go about that? It is simple. Think big. Really big. Go way outside of the box on this one and do something that has never been done before.
Get some ratings off this thing. Get with the reality television craze and create a season-long program in which potential coaches have it out on a weekly basis in front of a captivated VH1 audience.
And for the sake of circularity, let Flavor Flav serve as the host. The show can go be called “Flavor of the Week” as both a play on the host’s name and a commentary on the state of most high-profile coaching jobs.
Then fill the cast with a series of B-list castoffs. Start with guys like Hal Mumme. Move on to guys with skeletons in the closet like George O’Leary and Mike Price just so the writers can play up the redemption storyline. Exiled Hoover High head coach Rush Probst would be a good addition simply for his experience on the now defunct MTV reality series, Two-A-Days. Come up with a list of about eight guys willing to compete in a series of fruitless on-field coaching and in-home recruiting challenges. Mix in a periodic dose of Gary Busey and there is the recipe for one of the only things that could be a bigger mess than Auburn’s current situation.
And at the end of it all, Jacobs should shun the “winning contestant” before swallowing his pride and offering the job back to Tuberville, who would then in turn give “the Auburn family” the same cold shoulder he has gotten throughout much of his time on the Plains.
Because face it, the only man who has the resume to fill Auburn’s high-maintenance needs just handed over his headset and walked away.