Another ESPN expert impressed with Auburn
That was a fine idea.
So I spoke with Feldman earlier today from his plush pad in suburban Los Angeles, where he no doubt is working on his next great piece of prose.
You should have his blog bookmarked. Also, his 2007 book "Meat Market," which examines how Ed Orgeron recruited at Ole Miss, deserves your time at some point.
Here's what he had to say about Chizik and the entire Auburn operation:
Q: So what have you noticed about Auburn from your perch on the West Coast?
A: He had such a splashy start. He beat West Virginia, which was a pretty good win. Won at Tennessee. They had a lull, sure, but to be 7-4 right now? That's a good year. There was such a negative blast of publicity with his hiring because people were so focused on what he did at Iowa State. That was deceiving. Auburn fans should be pleased with what they have.
Q: His start certainly was inauspicious -- with Barkley ripping him on the air and the 5-and-19 stuff. Did you hear much about that?
A: Not so much about that, but it was amazing to me -- to the national people -- that there was such an outcry against Tuberville. He had a bad year. Still, he didn't have all the stuff Fulmer had at Tennessee. I'm talking about the "Fulmer Cup" and all that. He had won a lot of big games and he'd beaten his arch-rival in the hardest of rivalries.
Q: Has your opinion of Chizik changed since he was hired by Auburn?
A: It's clear that he's a better coach now than he was three years ago. He was a really hot name three years ago, but he learned a lot from what happened at Iowa State. I can see him running things more intelligently at Auburn. Plus, you have to give him some credit for what has been happening at Iowa State this season. He was putting that program together from nothing. They had something when (ISU) started this season.
Q: What has been your opinion of their recruiting effort?
A: If they can close, they'll improve quickly. He clearly has good recruiters. It's harder now because Saban is there, but Georgia has slipped so far. That will help Auburn a lot. Those guys can move into Georgia and get kids that (UGA) would have locked up a few years ago. Now Auburn has that momentum.
One thing that really surprised me is how NFL guys see Auburn's talent level right now. I was talking to a scout the other day about Auburn and he said there's just not much there aside from Tate, Antonio Coleman and one of the offensive linemen. I'm guessing he meant Ziemba. He said they don't really have many play-makers. It surprised me to hear from him how depleted they are. That's not what I'm used to hearing.
Q: Where do you see Auburn in three years?
A: I think they're one of the three teams to watch -- it's Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee as the upcoming programs. You still have Alabama and Florida at the top. LSU? I'm not sure about that anymore. There is room for someone to move up and it could be Auburn. They'll have a chance. It's cyclical. Alabama can't get every recruit out there. Florida can't get every recruit out there. If Chizik is smart, and I think he is, he'll make good decisions about which recruits to target and he'll improve that program very quickly. He already has.