In the immediate aftermath of Auburn’s 2010 BCS title, excitement ran high on the Plains.
Gene Chizik had just won the school’s first title since 1957. An undefeated 14-0 season. Stellar recruiting classes as far as the eye could see. The future was bright, so bright that Auburn needed to lock in Chizik to keep him from bolting for another job. So the Tigers gave good ole Gene a $10 million buyout. That buyout declined by $2.5 million over each of the next five seasons, eventually reaching zero in 2015. This means that if Auburn fires Chizik this year they owe him a whopping $7.5 million, the largest buyout in SEC history.
Yep, just over twenty months removed from an Arizona night when he raised the crystal football high above his head to celebrate a national title, Auburn has had enough of Chizik.
That’s because Auburn’s past, present, and future went pro.
His name was Cam Newton.
Since Cam’s departure a few felonies ensued, Gus Malzahn and Michael Dyer bailed on the Tigers, and suddenly Auburn fans were left holding the bag, it was clear that Gene Chizik was who we thought he was.
Remember the Auburn heckler?
He’s gone from genius to pariah, back to genius again.
All in the space of four years.
Without Cam Newton Gene Chizik’s career coaching record is 22-33. That’s a five-year period 5-19 at Iowa State and 17-14 at Auburn.
Basically, Chizik without Cam is, at best, completely mediocre.
And anyone who has ever spent any time in the state of Alabama knows that it isn’t just how your team is doing, it’s how your team is doing in relation to your Iron Bowl rival. Well, we’re on track for the biggest win differential in the series since 1950. An 11-0 Alabama could very well be playing a 3-8 Auburn team on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Right now Las Vegas sets the line at -30 for Bama.
Over four touchdowns separate the two teams.
Meaning Auburn’s brain trust is working hard to collect the $7.5 million to buy out Gene Chizik and hire someone new.
That’s going to be incredibly expensive.
Figure that whoever Auburn hires will make at least $3 million a year — Chizik makes $3.5 million — plus Auburn will be on the hook for a massive buyout, the largest in SEC history. (Auburn previously paid Tommy Tuberville $5.1 million).
You’re talking a substantial amount of money, over his next couple of years whoever Auburn hires will cost more than Alabama pays Nick Saban.
Think about that for a minute.
That’s why Saban remains the best coaching bargain in all of sports.
So where is Auburn’s money going to come from?
I’ve got ten ideas.
1. Have players rob local homeowners.
Okay, that’s probably a bit unfair.
I mean, it’s not like this would ever happen.
Of course, if you robbed everyone living within five miles of Auburn’s campus and took all the available cash in all those homes, you would have $468.72.
Still a bit short.
2. Cecil Newton, Sr.
I hear Cecil’s “church” had a great year in 2010.
Lots of offering money came in.
God is good.
So good that Cecil might return some of His money to the lovely people at Auburn.
3. From the fan base that was “All In.”
Wait, you’re only all in when you win?
(Question, did they play D.J. Khaled’s, “All I Do Is Win,” after the overtime Louisiana-Monroe victory? Are they still using this song? We need a Bama fan to do a remix featuring this season’s highlights. Please.)
4. Apple CEO Tim Cook’s lunch money.
In case you didn’t know, Cook’s an Auburn grad. Approximately 4,000 Auburn fans have told me this now.
By the way, Alabama fans must be researching Tim Cook online.
How do we know?
Check out Google autocomplete on his name.
Most popular next word after you type Tim Cook?
I’m not making this up.
Google autofill is incredibly entertaining to check out.
The top three Google autofills after you type my name? Outkick the coverage, twitter, and wife.
Y’all are perverts.
5. Energy vampires.
If they suck up energy, can’t they also suck up cash?
6. Paul Finebaum
Finebaum is going to hit radio free agency in January. Given that we have the same radio employer, I presume Finebaum would also prefer to never sign another contract with them for the rest of his working career.
So he should have plenty of money to donate to the cause.
7. Auction off Chizik’s Auburn leather jackets.
These are bad ass!
8. Make Bobby Petrino pay Chizik’s buyout.
Jay Jacobs negotiating at Applebee’s bar: “Okay, Bobby, you want a big time job? We’ll hire you, but you have to pay Chizik’s buyout.
And, Bobby, your buyout also becomes $4 billion.
Don’t worry we’re building you a harem.
Sign this cocktail napkin contract.”
Petrino signs cocktail napkin.
Jacobs: “High Five!”
(Note: I presume all Auburn football hires are made at the Applebee’s bar.)
9. Danny Sheridan’s bagman
He’s a strong man, he’s already carried Cam’s cash.
Why can’t he also pay off Chizik?
10. The NCAA.
Yes, that mess in Memphis is pretty sordid. So sordid that Auburn could even play hardball with Chizik.
You know Auburn only has to pay Chizik $7.5 million if he’s fired “without cause.”
But if suddenly Auburn is under investigation for improprieties that took place under Chizik’s watch?
Well, Auburn might argue they were firing Chizik not because his team’s bad, but because of NCAA issues.
Trust me, they play dirty on the Plains.