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Sweet Cyclone Irony

Hey everyone. This is why I love sports -- there's always something weird happening.

Paul Rhoads, the Tigers' defensive coordinator in 2008, has been hired at Iowa State as its head coach. He replaced Gene Chizik, who was hired as Auburn's head coach on Dec. 14.
"Paul Rhoads is an outstanding and intelligent football coach, a highly successful national recruiter and has nearly 10 years of experience as a BCS coordinator," Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a statement on Saturday. "He was the one candidate that clearly demonstrated both extensive experience and an extreme passion for and familiarity with our institution. In addition, and most importantly, he also has a comprehensive plan for how to be successful at Iowa State."
No mention of a "blueprint," though, which may put him a step behind Chizik.

He had a blueprint.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Ramsey planning to return, but where?

Hey everyone. A trusted source in Mississippi told me a few days back that Chaz Ramsey, Auburn's injured offensive guard, was planning to resume his career at Auburn after all.

You may remember that Ramsey asked for a release before the 2008 season began. That request was granted, though former coach Tommy Tuberville said Ramsey was welcome to return.

So is Ramsey staying put? He's not saying.

"I'm still looking at my options and thinking about it," he said Friday afternoon. ``I'm enrolled at Auburn. I haven't talked to (Gene) Chizik or anything. We'll just have to see."

Ramsey started 10 games as a freshman in 2007. A back injury suffered during spring drills eventually led to surgery. He didn't play this season.

Photo credit: Reuters

Searels on the radar

Stacy Searels, a former Auburn player who currently is an assistant coach at Georgia, officially has made Gene Chizik's wish list.

My friends at the Chattanooga Times Free Press -- good guys all around -- report that UGA coach Mark Richt has heard from Auburn representatives about Searels. He said it's unclear if the Tigers want Searels as a position coach or offensive coordinator.

``I don't want to lose anybody," Richt told the Times Free Press. ``We would hate to lose Stacy or any of our guys."

Searels played at Auburn from 1984-87. He also was an Auburn grad assistant in 1990. He has been in the SEC since 2003 -- first at LSU and now at Georgia.

Friday chatter

Hey everyone. Welcome back to the temperate world we like to call the HABOTN.

I will be appearing on WMSP AM 740's afternoon program around 1:20 p.m. CST today. The station streams its content on the internets. Have a listen if you'd like.

FREEMAN MAKES IT OFFICIAL: Our friends at reported this morning that linebacker Eltoro Freeman has faxed his LOI to Auburn officials. He becomes the second player to sign with Gene Chizik. The first was defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Both played junior college ball and are expected to participate in spring drills.

The Big Board: Men

Something I'd like to do here is update you somewhat regularly (maybe every two weeks?) on how all Auburn sports are doing.

I know you're probably not interested in the minute details of the tennis team, for instance, but my guess is you're willing to invest five seconds to see how they're doing in a general sense. Since Jay Jacobs says he's striving to make Auburn the nation's "pre-eminent athletics department", let's take a peek at Jacobs' progress.

Here's your glance:

2008 final record: 5-7 (2-6 in SEC games)
2008 finish: tied for 4th in SEC West
Next game: A-Day game, 3/28/09

2008-09 record: 5-4
2008-09 rank: none
Next game: @ Virginia, 12/20

2008 final record: 28-28 (11-19 in SEC games)
2008 finish: 5th in SEC West
2009 opener: vs. Elon, 2/20/09

2008 final record: Finished 5th at the NCAA Championships in November
2008 final rank: 13th
2009 opener: tba

2008-09 record: 23-28-1
2008-09 rank: none
Next match: John Burns Intercollegiate (Wahiawa, Hawaii), 2/18/09

2008-09 meet record: 2-0
2008-09 rank: 8
Next event: vs. Texas, 1/8/09

Fall season record: 11-13 (4-7 in SEC matches)
Fall finish: 4th in SEC West
Spring season opener: Auburn Spring Classic, 1/23/09

2008 final outdoor record: Finished tied for 2nd at NCAA Championships
2008 final outdoor rank: 2nd
2009 outdoor opener: at Georgia Tech, 3/27/09

Thursday chatter

Hey everyone. I'm technically off this week, which means I'm trying to get a few holiday-related matters handled before more Auburn drama unfolds.

I know what you're thinking: More drama, Jay?

It's Auburn. You never know.

Here are a few items of interest:

AUBURN HOOPS SIGNINGS: We've discussed this before, but now it's official. Jeff Lebo signed four players today for the 2009-2010 season.
  • C Robert Chubb, 6-10, 220 (Peachtree City, Ga.)
  • SF Kenny Gabriel, 6-8, 200 (Charlotte, N.C.) ... from JUCO
  • SG Andre Malone, 6-5, 202 (Atlanta)
  • SG/SF Earnest Ross, 6-5, 215 (from Cary, N.C.)

FREEMAN ON BOARD? (UPDATED): Our friends at reported that junior-college linebacker Eltoro Freeman, an Alex City native, has chosen Auburn and will sign with the Tigers tomorrow. Freeman notified Gene Chizik of his intentions this afternoon. I'm 100% sure Chizik is satisfied.

Auburn 75, Tuskegee 32

OK. More basketball action coming your way from Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

  • FINAL: Auburn 75, Tuskegee 32.
    • Tuskegee shot 19.2% (15 of 64)
    • Tuskegee hit 1 of 16 from three-point range
    • Tuskegee hit 1 of 8 from the free-throw line
    • That's the lowest Auburn opponent point total since 1948

  • @ the 3:00 mark
    Auburn leads, 62-30.

  • Frankie Sullivan just scored on a shooting foul. What can I say?

  • Lucas Hargrove just scored on a shooting foul. That breaks a long streak.

  • SECOND TO @ 11:29
    Auburn leads, 40-25.

  • FIRST TO @ 15:47
    Auburn leads, 36-19. Haven't been watching. I'm writing a story about Nick Fairley for tomorrow's editions.

    Auburn leads, 30-11.

Halftime picture show

We've got some former Auburn football players in the house ... doing different kinds of things.

This is Stacy Danley. A former star tailback, Danley used to work for Auburn. Now he works for Tuskegee.

This is Antwoin Daniels. He used to play offensive line. He graduated and left the program after the 2007 season. He's now an officer with the Auburn Police Department.

Tuskegee @ Auburn, 1st half

Plenty of good seats available, as you can see.

PG -- Dewayne "Speed" Reed of Houston, Texas
SG -- Tez Robertson of Cincinnati, Ohio
SF -- Tay Waller of Manchester, Ga.
"PF" -- Lucas Hargrove of South Carolina
F/C -- Korvotney Barber or Manchester, Ga.

    Auburn leads, 30-11.

  • FOURTH TO @ 3:19
    Auburn leads, 27-9. What else can I say? Tuskegee is terminally sloppy. Auburn drew three fouls while shooting during that last period. How many yielded a made basket? Zero point zero.

  • THIRD TO @ 7:56
    Auburn leads, 23-7. Same ol'. Jason Caldwell, he of ITAT fame, brought up an interesting point. When is the last time an Auburn player actually finished after being fouled? Hoop and the harm? Hasn't been seen in years.

  • SECOND TO @ 11:26
    Auburn leads, 14-4. Auburn is using a simple man-to-man scheme and the visitors can't create shots. That's the bottom line. Auburn is chuggling along like usual on offense; some smart stuff and some silly stuff.

  • Stacy Danley in the house. He's a Tuskegee administrator now.

  • Barber is back in.

  • FIRST TO @ 15:48
    Auburn leads, 9-0. The Golden Tigers are sloppy in the half-court offense. Auburn has run a few set offensive plays successfully, which isn't common. Of note -- Vot Barber left with an ankle injury. It didn't look serious to me.

  • Auburn up 7-0 @ 16:40. Tuskegee has called timeout.

Dye comments on Finebaum

This is too good to avoid.

  • "Nobody had any part in this hiring except Jay (Jacobs)."

  • "The Houston Nutt thing was put out by Jimmy Sexton, his agent."

  • He said someone told him Nutt had been offered $4 million. "That's a lie. I knew (Jacobs) wouldn't touch Nutt with a 10-foot pole. Jay said: `I haven't even thought about (Nutt).' I asked Frank Broyles about it and he said: `That's Jimmy Sexton. He did the same thing when Houston was out here with the Nebraska job. He did the same thing with Tommy last year with Arkansas and Texas A&M.'"

  • Dye said he called former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum about Tuberville's alleged candidiacy last year: "Tommy's name hadn't even been mentioned out here."

  • On Jimbo Fisher and Will Muschamp: "We ain't talked to them. That's Sexton."

  • On Tony Barnhart reporting that trustees talked with Fisher and Muschamp: "They can talk to him all they want. Jay Jacobs is doing the hiring."

  • "There's a lot of misinformation out there. It gets everybody stirred up."

  • What is Sexton's motive?: "Money. Getting Nutt a raise at Ole Miss. Getting Jimbo a raise at Florida State. Getting Muschamp a raise. Getting Tommy (Tuberville) a raise. Money!"

  • "It's Floirda nation. It's Alabama nation. It's the Auburn family. They're screwing around with our family. The press! They're calling us racists and saying we have a plantation mentality."

  • "I probably would have gone and hired Rodney Garner or Patrick Nix -- two of my former players."

  • "If you're going to coach at Auburn and everything is equal, I think it would be smart to have someone who loves Auburn on your staff. That would be a tremendous advantage. That's Gene Chizik's decision. I haven't recommended one person to him."

  • On Chizik: "He's a polished guy. His players love him. For Carlos Rogers to fly to Atlanta and rent a car and drive to Auburn to be there for his coach -- that shows you."

  • He mistakenly believes Travis Williams appeared at the press conference. It was Antarrious Williams. Totally different guy.

  • "Kurt (Crain) called me this morning and wanted me to recommend him to Gene. I told him: I'm not recommending anyone."

  • Watson Brown as OC?: "That ain't happening."

  • "We really don't need to worry about what's being said on the radio. If they want to listen to you, fine. It doesn't bother me what you say. I know you talk about me when I get off the air ..."

  • He claims to have written the note you read here yesterday (and Tigers Unlimited people read the day before).

  • Chizik: "I like it and I do like it. War eagle."

  • So why write a letter?: He gets up early. "I had a spell come over me while I was riding around on the farm. I felt like I needed to talk to the Auburn people. I didn't know how to do it -- if it should be an editorial. I don't know how you all do this electrical stuff nowadays."

  • Is Harper Lee behind this?: He wants to see her in January. "I've got some unfinished business we need to talk about."


  • On Barkley: "People don't need to get bent out of shape with him. He's an Auburn man. He did not have enough information and he over-reacted. I've done the same thing (in the past). On this issue, he's wrong. He needs to call Jay and talk to him or call Turner Gill and talk to him."

  • On Nebraska's 41-7 win against Auburn in 1982. Gill was Nebraska's quarterback that day: "That was a good, old-fashioned, country ass-whooping."

  • Advice to Paul: "Ease up a little bit. If you get away from Birmingham, come on down to the plantation."

Interest in the Auburn-Tuskegee game tonight?

As part of my undying adoration for all HOTTIES, I'm willing to live blog the Auburn-Tuskegee men's game tonight.

I will not do it unless a few of you think you'll give that even a cursory look.


OT: Taking me back to the old days

When I was a lad, I watched "The Price Is Right" with my mom every morning.

I dreamed of someday hitting the Showcase Showdown.

This guy, whom we know only as Terry, lived my dream yesterday.

NOTE: You only need to watch the first 50 seconds.

SECOND NOTE: Is this what Gene Chizik looked like on Saturday afternoon?

More talk about "fits"

Hey everyone. Looks like Turner Gill got the memo about how "fit" is the most important thing at Auburn.

The Buffalo News has a story in today's editions about the contract extension Gill signed with U. Buffalo yesterday.

At the bottom is a quote about his dalliance with Auburn.
"Auburn gave me a great opportunity to interview for that job. Again, it wasn’t a [good] fit. And that’s OK. I’m happy to be here at the University at Buffalo, a great academic institution and now going to be a great football program, and a great athletic program, and obviously a great city to be in sports.”
ZERO POINT ZERO: Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, a distant HABOTN associate, writes today that Gene Chizik has a remarkably small chance to succeed at Auburn.

Best passage:
How could Jacobs and his cohorts possibly think the hiring of a 5-19 coach would be well received by their constituents? And how could they possibly expect Chizik to succeed under such divisive circumstances? How can there be such a vast disconnect between that school's powers-that-be and the people they (supposedly) serve?
Photo credit: Buffalo News

Keeping it real

Hey everyone. After a few hours of deliberation, I have decided to re-open the HABOTN for business. I have added an IP tracker to the site -- you won't notice it -- which will allow me to identify troublesome posters and handle them appropriately.

I can't believe that I now must spend time playing Daddy and doling out punishments for adults who can't act like adults, but I guess that's where we are.

Thanks to the overwhelming majority of the HOTTIES who make this site great.

TURNER GILL GETS RICHER: Yes sir. Auburn's search for a new football coach may be over, but people are still making money off the endeavor. Gill, the U. Buffalo coach, has earned an undisclosed pay raise at Buffalo. In exchange, he has agreed to not seek alternative employment for a year.

PAT DYE ADDRESSES THE PEEPS: Tigers Unlimited members received an email this morning from Dye addressing the coaching search and Auburn's decision to hire Gene Chizik. Though he basically rips reporters, I think this is a worthwhile read for a few reasons.
Auburn Family,

I woke up this morning with Auburn on my mind, which is not surprising since I went to sleep with Auburn on my mind.

This is a very emotional time for the Auburn family. We all have our own opinions about what is best for Auburn and about the impact that Auburn decisions will have on our lives.

I don't expect everyone who reads this to agree with everything I say, but I just want you to know what I feel in my heart. This time of transition we are going through now reminds me of the time in 1981 when I walked into a room full of football players who had many questions and doubts about me coming in as the new head football coach.

Their frustration showed in their faces, and anxiety was in their eyes because of the unknown. I had a simple message: Whether they had come to Auburn for the right reasons or the wrong reasons, they had chosen to get their education and to play football at Auburn University, which would lay the foundation for the rest of their lives.

I told them that Auburn had chosen me and that I had chosen Auburn. I asked them as a team to be loyal to Auburn and to love Auburn. I said that I would also be loyal to Auburn and would love Auburn, and this loyalty and love would be our common ground which would lay the foundation that would serve Auburn for many years to come.

There is a lot of misinformation out there right now. The media people have their jobs to do and should have our respect for doing those jobs. But unless an individual has served as president of a major university, has been on the board of trustees of a major university, or has been athletic director or head football coach at a major university, it is hard to grasp how the people in these positions make the decisions that affect so many.

Unless you have walked in their shoes, you cannot begin to understand all that is involved in the process of making these decisions.

In addressing the current situation pertaining to our Athletic Director, Jay Jacobs, and his decision to hire Gene Chizik as our new Head Coach, I applaud all parties involved in the process for allowing Jay Jacobs to do his job.

Nobody is more qualified to make this decision than Jay. He is a true Auburn man to the bone and understands better than anybody the kind of man we need to lead our football program into the future. Gene Chizik is that man.

Because of the years I was involved in football – as a player, an assistant coach, a head coach, and as a part of teams that won championships at every level – I learned something about winning. One thing I am sure of is that I know what it takes to win. Teams where everyone played with the same heartbeat had a chance to win championships; teams that were not able to play like that never reached their full potential.

We don't need to worry about what is going on around us. We only need to be concerned about what is going on at Auburn. And being the best we can be at Auburn will take care of what is going on around us. We are an Auburn family. Let's see if we can play with the same heartbeat.

I know winning is important to the Auburn people. But so is character. Jay Jacobs has it and so does Gene Chizik. Now we'll see if they can win. They are our team. I like it. War Eagle.

Coach Pat Dye

Things I learned today

Hey everyone. I had a chance to talk with Jay Jacobs and Gene Chizik away from the cameras for a bit after the press conference and gleaned some fairly useful information.

I'll just let it fly.
  • So what about Chizik's staff?: The head coach revealed very little about his plans there. It's going to be him, Joe Whitt Sr., Phillip Lolley and Jimmy Perry on the recruiting trail starting this afternoon. Those three guys have high visibility among Alabama high school coaches and it's clear that Chizik wants to start exerting more influence inside Alabama.

  • Cash money: Jacobs again said money will be no object when it comes to hiring assistants. He said that about the head coach, too, so I'd understand your caution. Still, I believe this will be a rich staff of assistants once it's all said and done.

  • Pat Dye sighting: He was all over today, which is highly unusual. He was overheard telling someone: "This is the most welcome I've been here in 12 years." I thought that was interesting. He is very pro-Chizik. Why? "He's everything Jay said he was."

  • 5-19?: Jacobs said Chizik essentially mortgaged the Cyclones' present to make them better in the future. The team played a lot of true freshmen this season. Jacobs said after confirming that plan with other ISU people, he basically considered Chizik's record irrelevant.

  • Barkley's comments: Jacobs didn't want to talk about that. He reiterated his "best fit for Auburn" mantra and moved on to the next question.

  • Tuberville staff changes: Someone (thoughtfully) asked Jacobs if Tuberville had been willing to fire people prior to his resignation. "Tommy, two weeks ago, he told me of certain changes he was going to make. And know the story."

  • Mo' money: Chizik apparently never asked Jacobs about money. I asked Gene about that and he gave me a stern look before insisting that he "doesn't coach for money." OK. I guess that means he's willing to donate much of his $2 million salary toward feeding the homeless.

  • Lookin' out my back door: I was a little troubled (comically) by Jacobs' repeated references to eschewing "back door" negotiations with coaches. Auburn is proud of having handled this search above board, which is commendable, but is it that big of a deal?

  • Q on the spot: Jacobs said Quentin Riggins, quite possibly the world's most likable sideline reporter, participated in all interviews. Participated in the decision? Jacobs didn't address that. Did Silvio Dante help make decisions? I remember Tony making the calls.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

LIVE -- Chizik/Jacobs press conference @ 1 o'clock

We're waiting for the participants to arrive ...

  • "He impressed upon us his blueprint to move Auburn football in the future."

  • "He was on the path at Iowa State to turn that program around."

  • "This is a very special day in my life. Jay, let me assure you: You hired the right guy."

  • "It was amazing how on the same page we were."

  • He's complimenting all the new stuff Auburn has built since he left in early 2005.

  • "There are so many things that indicate Auburn has a vision."

  • "The Auburn people? The Auburn way? I get it. I've been to some great places and not one matches the passion, enery and excitement of Auburn and these Auburn people."

  • "It's not just about championships. It's about the whole thing."

  • "Shortly after this is over, (recruiting) is where you'll see me. Today. We're going to recruit tirelessly, 24/7. We're going to work."

  • "I've made many great, great relationships with high-school coaches in this state. We're going to start in this great state of Alabama where football is very important."

  • "We have no secrets here. We'll have an open door for high-school coaches ... and particularly in this state."

  • "I want the Auburn football players ... to feel like they're back into an Auburn family. Some may feel it. Some may not. I don't know what's out there. I want all those guys to come back."

  • "We're going to move this thing in the right direction."

  • On the staff: "I have one goal: To make sure we bring in the best football coach/person/recruiter out there. That's my commitment."

  • On his offensive style: "It's 200 years old. On offense right now, you've got to run the football. That doesn't mean we're not going to throw the football. It means that you have to be physical. That doesn't pigeonhole me into any one offense. So many offenses are not one-dimensional anymore."

  • On his troubles at ISU: "When I took that job, I was ready to be a head coach. I had done everything I could do as an assistant coach. I was ready. It's not like I walked into that thing and didn't think it was a challenge. I had a blueprint in place. I put it in effect. I never deviated from that one bit."

  • How can he win over the fans?: "That answer is really easy. You have to win. There's going to be skepticism no matter who you hire. At the end of the day, what I do know is that this was the right hire for Auburn. I understand this place. I understand these people. I understand how to recruit it."

  • Why leave four years ago?: "My desire was to be a head coach. University of Texas had a great track record of moving guys on to jobs. I made the move. If I hadn't made that move, maybe I wouldn't be standing here today."

  • Staff revisited: "I've got a plan in place. I've got a really good sense of where I'm going. Some of (the candidates) are still coaching."

  • Initial reaction to being hired: "My initial reaction was `War Eagle.' It happened fast."

  • Joe Whitt Sr. is recruiting now. Phillip Lolley and Jimmy Perry as well.

  • "I love recruiting. I can't wait."

  • On Tuberville: "I have not talked to Tommy. I had a great three years here. I was very appreciative of Tommy letting me do my job. There's a fine line between coaching and meddling. I don't plan on micromanaging coordinators. That's why they were hired. I'm going to be out there and I'm going to be coaching."

  • "The expectations of the people aren't any higher than mine. My expectations are very high."

  • "Last season was a situation I hadn't experienced. We played with 11 true freshmen. We kept persevering. We learned a lot. I learned a lot."

  • Head coaches are big recruiters now: "That's who I have to be. When this is over, I'm hitting the road. I'm out of here. I'll spear-head that effort."

  • Last night's meeting: "We had a great meeting last night. I let them understand their leader is someone who loves Auburn. I love this place. You need to love the game. We'll hit this thing together."

  • Why are you the right guy for the job?: "I love Auburn. I know the importance of football at Auburn. I know the importance of football in Alabama. I get that. The coaches that know me in this state and the coaches who know me out of this state -- they know about my Auburn ties."

  • Surprised by negative reaction?: "I know the Auburn people are going to come together and know that Gene is the right man for Auburn.

  • Didn't acknowledge any other candidates.

  • "We didn't necessarily have a pecking order. We had a list of candidates we wanted to get to and he was on it."

  • "He'll re-energize Auburn with his physical, smash-mouth brand of football. All Auburn people will come together."

  • "We have agreed to terms in principle."

  • Said Jay Gogue couldn't make this meeting due to a schedule conflict.

  • "We didn't compromise our integrity during this search. I went through the front door. We're not going to through agents and all that stuff."

  • Discussing Carr & Associates.

  • How many interviews?: Won't say who and how many. "Gene was the only one I introduced the president to."

  • "There were certain people who declined to interview. Maybe that just weeded out some of the faint-hearted."

  • "We wanted someone who was a relentless recruiter, a guy with unbelievable character and integrity, someone who has been in the SEC and had been successful, somebody who has a passion for football -- Auburn football -- and his family."

  • Is money no object for assistant coaches?: "No object. Auburn people expect nothing less."


Remaining assistants are packing up

Hey everyone. There is plenty of action going on here.

I just said my good-byes to Terry Price, which sucks. He's a good guy.

Also said my good-byes to James Willis. That was a different deal. His office wasn't that packed. As I was walking along with him, Willis was approached by an athletic department official who said: "Have you talked with Chizik yet?"

Willis said: "No."

The official said: "You need to."

... so I'm still not sure what to tell you with Willis. I know Joe Whitt Sr. is out and about trying to repair the recruiting damage.

SCHEDULE UPDATE: The press conference begins at 1 p.m. CST. I'll be live blogging it in a new thread.

RAYMOND COTTON OUTTIE: The Tigers' top high-school prospect, quarterback Raymond Cotton Jr., has de-committed. That information comes courtesy of our friends at I wouldn't put too much credence into that development. The right coaches and the right system can get Auburn right back into the fray.

CHARLES BARKLEY SPEAKS OUT: The most outspoken former Auburn athlete had some interesting things to say in an story released within the hour.

On Turner Gill: "We talked about the whole race thing in Alabama," Barkley said. "I told him it's there and it's going to be anywhere you go. I told him you can't not take the job because of racism. He was worried about being nothing more than a token interview. He was concerned about having a white wife. It's just very disappointing to me."
On Auburn's decision: "I think race was the No. 1 factor," said Barkley, who played basketball for three seasons at Auburn during the early 1980s. "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."

Player reaction to Chizik

Chizik met with the players just after 8 p.m. Players seemed impressed with what they heard.

Take a read ...
  • TOMMY TROTT, TIGHT END: "You can tell he's going to be out there motivating us. He sounds like he's going to be a little more hands-on. He's probably going to snatch you up at a practice. He's going to have things done his way, he said. We're going to get back to being physical. If you don't love football, get out, because you better love football to what we're about to do. In a weird way that's very inspiring."

  • JERRAUD POWERS, CORNERBACK: "I was just happy it was over. That was the most part. I'm glad they chose a guy like coach Chizik. I just think, from the players' standpoint, we're just happy it's all over. Now we can go back to no worries and just doing what we're doing. Lately, since the thing happened, it's been kind of crazy around here. We're just happy it's over."

  • WALT McFADDEN, CORNERBACK: "I'm kind of happy by seeing him come back. He's the one who got me here. He's the one who gave me a comfort of coming to Auburn, with me being from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. I didn't know anything about Auburn. He told me a lot. Just being around Carlos Rogers when I was here on my recruiting visit, he just comforted me and told me all about Coach Chizik and just gave me a lot of hype about it."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Chizik now making the rounds

Chizik touched down around 6 p.m. to a crowd of approximately 200 fans. I couldn't find a single person there with an anti-Chizik or anti-Jacobs agenda. It was a love-in.

Chizik spoke briefly with reporters, where he said this:
First off all, I'm very, very overwhelmed. I'm back home. What can I say, I'm back home.

I feel very blessed; my family, myself. This is a dream come true for us.

This is going to be brief but I want to tell you this, these people of Auburn University and the Auburn family is what I got into coaching for. And I left it with the dream one day to come back to it. And today I'm living that dream. I want to thank you guys.

War Eagle.
He then addressed the throng of supporters gathered just off the tarmac. I couldn't hear anything he was saying, but a fan holding a sign reading "Welcome Home" conveyed the feeling I sensed there.

ANTARRIOUS WILLIAMS SPEAKS (linebacker for Chizik, 2002-04):
I think we got the right guy. All along, we interviewed 6, 7, 8 guys -- I don't know -- before we hired Chizik. I said: Where is Gene Chizik? Where is Gene Chizik? He was my No. 1 choice before they even mentioned him. I think Jay Jacobs got this right on the head. A lot of people are underestimating Gene Chizik's coaching ability and motivating players and players buying into the system, which is the key right now.

That's why Alabama's successful -- players are buying into Nick Saban's system. It's not that what they're doing is so great. It's that players believe what he's saying. Players will buy into Gene Chizik.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Chizik's first day is about to begin

Hey everyone. I'm here in Auburn now, preparing to chronicle Gene Chizik's first day as the Tigers' head coach. He was late leaving Ames today aboard one of the school's three jets, but he's now in transit.

His estimated time of arrival is 6 p.m. CST.

He is scheduled to meet with the team around 8. Several players will be made available after that briefing. One of my favorite guys to talk with, Coach DeMarco McNeil, said he'll be around as well.

I'll keep you updated as the night progresses.

Moving into Sunday

Hey everyone. The search is over. The first order of business is to thank the HOTTIES for making this the most exciting time in HABOTN history. I never in my life thought we'd have 10,000 pageviews in a day here.

We went way beyond that several times during the search. Thanks for your support.

HOTTIES > everyone else on Earth.

Enough of that. Let's get to business.

Gene Chizik is the Auburn coach and that's that. As a casual glance through our comments section will show, opinions are pretty split about this hire.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of this hire as I see them.

  • He has Auburn ties (SEC ties by default) and was an important part of the 2004 team that went 13-0.

  • He won a national title at Texas in 2005.

  • Defensive-minded guys always are welcomed at Auburn.

  • He's a disciplinarian.

  • He's passionate.
  • He went 5-19 as head coach at Iowa State.

  • He probably was one poor year away from being fired there. The popular web site Coaches' Hot Seat listed Chizik as the nation's third most in-jeopardy coach. He was not a hot property.

  • He has no offensive identity.

  • Auburn will take a public-relations hit for turning down Turner Gill, a relatively successful black head coach, to hire a relatively unsuccessful white head coach.

INTERESTING READ: Matt Hayes of Sporting News, a guy whose work I respect, writes this morning that Auburn hired Chizik because of The Lowder Influence.

PLANE CRAZY: Chizik is due back in Auburn later today for a meeting with players. Auburn's newest jet left AUO early this morning and currently is stationed in Ames, Iowa.

UPDATE: Flight is due to arrive at AUO at 5:10 p.m.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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