Thursday, June 16, 2011
ALL IN: At Auburn, Not Iowa State. Duh.
Where to begin with excerpts from Gene Chizik's new book, "All In", obtained by the Associated Press?
Let's start with Chizik's criticism of Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard. Chizik says Pollard told him there was no need to meet after Chizik accepted the job at Auburn. Chizik also had a problem with public statements made by Pollard, and says "two fantastic years ended with two horrible days". Really? Two fantastic years? Chizik never seemed like he really wanted to be in Ames, and those "two fantastic years" included 10 straight losses when Chizik gave Pollard a mulligan, and a chance to hire a better fit, by taking Auburn's lifeline.
As for Pollard, he made Chizik the face of the program and got burned. If I were Pollard, I would have felt a combination of hurt and anger with a dash of understanding. Pollard wears his emotions on his sleeve, which has endeared him to Cyclone fans by coming across as a real person. (It also makes it more nonsensical that Pollard has, of late, refrained from commenting on many topics, like this one, that he could have a field day with.) Pollard went "All In' on Chizik, and it's clear Chizik always had an eye on Auburn.
Most reasonable people understand Chizik taking the Auburn job. It's better in nearly all ways. It's not the why, it's the how. Chizik broke his word, promises, and hearts, and he did it all with a hasty exit that Cyclone players who were on the team at the time still can't fathom. It was cold. Period. Like Lebron, it's the how, not the why.
For Chizik to put that ugly exit on Pollard explains how Chizik could stand in front of the media while accepting the Auburn job for 45 minutes without once thanking Iowa State. It took winning a national championship for Chizik to even acknowledge his years in Ames. Once you win it all, you stop sweating the 5-19.
I'm not surprised Chizik has succeeded at Auburn. He's a good fit there as CEO of Auburn football. He looks like the actor you'd cast as "college football coach" in a movie. What he can't do is more with less. He was a disaster at Iowa State, and it was getting worse, not better. This is truly a case of something working out better for everyone. For Chizik, for Pollard, for Auburn, for Iowa State, and for fans of both.
The book's title is "All In: What It Takes To Be The Best" (Cam Newton?). "Firmly Entrenched" didn't test well in Iowa.
I wish Pollard would talk about all this. He told me hasn't read the book, so he's not in position to comment. I get that. It's all in the past, and everyone is better for it. Still, I think it's clear Pollard could tell a side that would make for more interesting reading. It's forever a fascinating chapter in a book better left unfinished.
Posted by Keith Murphy at 11:55 PM