“Winning three games is unacceptable,” he said. “We have high standards here at Auburn, and we’re going to keep them high. That’s what it boiled down to.”
“Overall discipline is something that always is a foundational thing in any team you have,” he said.
* * *
Listening to Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs on Sunday while announcing the firing of Gene Chizik as Auburn’s head football coach, you got the impression he was aware of the collapse all along.
Not only aware of it, but disturbed by it. Good for him.
Every Auburn fan throughout the country watched it painfully unfold over the last three months.
What could he possibly have told Auburn president Jay Gogue to keep from losing his own job?
“Hey, prez ... can’t believe what’s happening out there ... will look into it ... but hey, Coach Chiz is a good guy ... great character ... we’ll get someone in here to turn this around ...”
* * *
"I think we did what he deserved and we gave him a standing ovation and clapped for him," he said. "There's so much love for coach Chizik on this team. Would we have loved to see him get another year, another opportunity? Yes, but at the same time we understand where Jay Jacobs is coming from. Three wins isn't going to cut it in our league."
Defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker said, "It's kind of crazy right now. I had a special bond with Coach Chizik."
Chizik inserted tailback Tre Mason on the final play against Alabama to get him to 1,000 yards. The next day, Mason saw his coach get fired.
"It was a rough day for everybody," Mason said. "It's tough. There are going to be a lot of tears shed because there are a lot of relationships that may be put on hold or come to an end today. I have nothing negative to say about coach Chizik. He's done a lot for me and this program. I wish him the best of luck in his future."
* * *
When Auburn finally fired Gene Chizik on Sunday, I couldn't help but think of Reuben Foster. Who is Foster? He's the star high school linebacker who originally committed to Alabama but flipped to Auburn in July. How did Foster celebrate his decision?
By getting an Auburn tattoo that spans one of his forearms.
Few things in college football should ever be commemorated with permanent ink. Not verbal commitments. Not conference affiliations. Certainly not coaches. Foster loved the coaching staff at Auburn so much that his affection for the group played a major role in his decision to have the school's logo inked into his skin. But no amount of love can overcome 0-8 in the SEC.
* * *
Any time a program changes coaches, the prospect of players transferring rises.
And although athletic director Jay Jacobs said that at least one player told him after Sunday's meeting that all of the players would still be here, the reality is that some players will have tough choices to make in the weeks ahead.
"It's going to be a challenge because people's minds go everywhere, 'Should I leave or should I stay,'" Auburn running back Tre Mason said. "I'm pretty sure people will probably stay and stick together as a family."
* * *
Long before Alabama 49, Auburn 0, official and unofficial Auburn power brokers were told during the past off-season that Gene Chizik’s football program was coming apart at the seams.
Some of the problems, like a number of arrests and behavior issues, were public and obvious. Others were readily apparent only to insiders, and several of them spoke to al.com on condition of anonymity.
Some players weren’t going to class. Others weren’t working out. What should have been mandatory workouts became optional, and the authority of head strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall was severely undermined.
Chizik was informed of at least some of the issues, and he raised the academic issue with his assistant coaches at one point, but did the head coach really follow through or was he sending mixed signals?
* * *
"We will move as quickly as possible in the search for our next head coach," Jacobs said.
"We will be guided by the benchmarks we expect in the leader of our program. Those benchmarks are a track record as a proven winner, a commitment to playing within the rules, and student-athlete academic success."
The coaching search committee is Jacobs, Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Mac Crawford.
"This is a real, working committee and I’m proud to be part of this distinguished group," Jacobs said.