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.


Cyndie said...

Sorry to say it, but I'm still a hater. I didn't like the Chizek selection from day one. It started with his attitude in the first press conference and went downhill from there.

I doubt I'll ever cheer for him or Auburn. Someone said about LeBron, that he could save children from a burning building and people would still hate him because he didn't put out the fire. That's pretty much how I feel about Chizek.

But, you're right about two things. #1 It was how he left and not why that leaves a bitter taste and #2 We're better off without him.

Go 'Clones.

Ol' Dirty Moose said...

What exactly did you and Pollard want Chizik to do if his "dream job" was available and offered to him: turn it down and wait until the next time it might happen to be available (who knows how long that would be) and hope that it would be offered to him again (who knows how likely that would have been)? How is what Chizik did any different than what any number of other coaches have done (Brian Kelly leaving Cincinnati for Notre Dame, Randy Edsall leaving UConn for Maryland, Dennis Erickson leaving Idaho for Arizona State) and will continue to do as long as college football exists? Unless coaching contracts have tremendously larger buyout clause amounts (which the best coaching candidates would never agree to), this will always happen. I'm not privy to what Chizik said in his initial Auburn press conference so if he didn't acknowledge Iowa State and thank them, I understand your comment about that. Perhaps he was stung by Pollard's statement and decided it would be best not to say anything at all, but perhaps he could have at least still thanked his players and fans. Nonetheless, while I understand your sentiments about his leaving after just 2 years, it (unfortunately or not) is just the nature of the business.

Keith Murphy said...

Ol' Dirty Moose,

Again, it's the How, not the Why.

Thanks for reading.

Ol' Dirty Moose said...

Well, I think Chizik's concern may have been a valid one, that if Iowa State found out he was interviewing another job, he could be in trouble at ISU, especially with his poor record. Is it the 100% best moral way to handle things for a coach to interview with someone else behind his current employer's back? Maybe not, but it happens all the time, not just in sports but in all professions, for the exact same reason Chizik mentioned. And don't think for a moment that schools and professional sports teams don't do the exact same thing to their coaches: interview potential replacements and gauge their interest and availability before they fire the current coach. A recent example was the Miami Dolphins interviewing Jim Harbaugh before sticking with Tony Sparano. Heck, it even happened at Auburn, in 2003 when they interviewed Bobby Petrino when Tommy Tuberville was still employed. So the bottom line is I understand how Chizik felt it necessary to talk to Auburn without telling ISU first.