Sep 092012

More than once last night and today, in the wake of Auburn’s 28-10 loss to Mississippi State and 0-2 start, I’ve read something along the lines of “disappointing beginning.  Now Auburn has to keep the wheels from coming off.”

Folks, Auburn’s wheels are already off.  This is a team in free fall.  Auburn won’t get to .500.  A 5-7 finish may be doable.  I think 4-8 is likely.  It could be as bad as 2-10.  (Surely Auburn can handle New Mexico State and Alabama A&M.)

But aren’t those the only gimmes?  You going to chalk Louisiana-Monroe, who beat #8 Arkansas on the road in overtime last night, as a W?  You ready to say Vandy’s defensive line won’t give Auburn fits?

Last year the wheels were coming off.  Dropping from 14-0 in 2010 to 8-5 in 2011 was itself notable, but Auburn’s margins of victory and defeat were remarkable.  When Auburn won, they tiptoed by teams they should have blasted.  When they lost, they did so by scores like 45-7 and 42-14.  Auburn’s average margin of defeat in 2011 was just short of 28 points.

Last year the defending national champion lost five times—by an average of four touchdowns.  I couldn’t easily corroborate such an esoteric statistic, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that margin of defeat for a defending national champion is an NCAA record.

So, shake the staff up.  How’s that going?  This year, in its first two games, Auburn has allowed an average of 458 yards, while generating only 295 itself.  Auburn has seven turnovers; its opponents, two.  Most alarming is how lost they look.  This is simply not a team lining up with a plan.  It’s a team wondering what’s going to happen next, not a team asserting itself and dictating its course.

At the line of scrimmage, surely “bewildered” is near the top of the list of ways not to look.

Have I mentioned Auburn still has to play Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama?  Not to mention Texas A&M and Vanderbilt?

Auburn, listen:  you don’t have your guy.  The sooner you believe that, the better off you’ll be.  Gene Chizik seems like a nice man, but a freakishly talented, once-in-a-lifetime athlete nearly singlehandedly delivered his only national title.  He’s not winning another one.  In fact, an occasional ten-win season is probably too much to expect.  Without Cam Newton under center, Chizik is 16-12.  You have the second coming of Larry Coker on your hands, not of Bob Stoops.

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 Posted by at 5:08 pm

  4 Responses to “Auburn’s wheels are already off”

  1. Their fan base is just now coming around to what the rest of us have known for years: 2010 was a fluke. Chizik was busy catching lightning in a bottle, not building a program. He has a bunch of recruiters masquerading as coaches, and it’s catching up to him. As Alabama fans, we know what a program in disarray looks like – we’ve lived it. Unfortunately for Auburn, that 2010 title is going to keep Chizik around for 2-3 years longer than he deserves. But the rest of us are thrilled about it.

  2. I wanted to be the Alabama fan who was going to be for Auburn in the 2010 season’s BCS title game, and in the end I was for Oregon. I didn’t like that, because I didn’t like being that guy. As I considered it, I said “if this was, say, a Pat Dye-coached team in 1989, would it be easier?” I’m pretty sure it would have been.

    I had trouble pulling for 2010 Auburn in the title game not because I’m a “hater,” but because the whole thing felt vaguely fraudulent to me.

    And it wasn’t just the Cam Newton was-he-or-wasn’t-he-paid factor. It was that I knew Chizik had backed into it.

  3. I hardly ever pay much real attention to any football, pro football just about 0 attention, even at the superbowl party I always end up going to. But in college, I still, by law, at least notice the occasional final score and end of season WLR. I come from the school whose team just beat Auburn this past weekend, so I’ve never been one of high hopes. I don’t even pull for them with much enthusiasm (holy cow, spell check says I got that word right on the first try… is it really Monday?) for a number of personal/political reason aside from the fact that there’s nothing consistent about my school’s team’s record or performance other than expect disappointment and be surprised otherwise.

    But I’ve noticed two interesting things bout the SEC since the BCS has been around: First, everytime the SEC is in the championship game, the SEC wins. And it’s basically just been bouncing around between Florida, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn got thrown in there. My second observation is that the year after an SEC team wins, said team seems to fall off the horse (relatively). I’m not paying terribly close attention to every year, so there may be an exception here or there…

    None the less, the games will still remain nothing more than an excuse for being social for me, primarily b/c I have very low expectations for the team that represents my school.

  4. Tahm, right now, it’s definitely the SEC and everyone else. I have $100 that says the 2012 BCS national champion is an SEC team. Will you take it? 😉

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