|Auburn's Tiger Prowl hits Birmingham|
Who knows what this crazy Gene Chizik experiment will lead to come fall. He may prove to be the second coming of Pat Dye - or Tommy Tuberville if you prefer. Then again, he could end up being Auburn's version of Mike Dubose or Mike Shula. Your guess is as good as mine.
Whatever happens, his first act has proved to be damn good theater. Whether it's saving a recruiting class on life support or luring the two top prep running backs in the country to Auburn for a visit, Chizik refuses to be outworked by anyone. Even his harshest critics have to be impressed.
Much attention has been given to this week's Tiger Prowl, where Auburn assistant coaches have canvassed the state in stretch limos (usually a different color Hummer each day) visiting high school coaches from the bottom of the state to the top. When asked earlier this week about it, Alabama coach Nick Saban looked like he'd soiled himself. Could the self proclaimed master of recruiting be losing at his own game to the rookie coach at Auburn?
"We're all selling the same product. We have to do something that puts ours ahead or separates ours from the rest,'' said assistant coach Trooper Taylor "A lot of people say it's Auburn versus Alabama. It's really about an in-state deal. We can't afford to lose Jamarcus Russell to LSU and Pat White to West Virginia. If those kids were playing for in-state schools just think about the championships. It's really about keeping the kids in state.''
It's much too early to tell how this staff will fair against the Gadsden loving school to the north; but it's safe to say they have gotten their attention. Earlier this week Paul Finebaum and his band of toothless callers were yacking it up, laughing at the move by the Auburn staff. By late Thursday, Finebaum had seen the wisdom of the Tiger Prowl and Bama fans were turning on each other.
Suddenly, in this most important recruiting period, Chizik and his staff are the talk of the state. You can bet the Red Elephant Club is hunkered down in its bunker tonight burning candles and calling on the spirit of the Bear for help.
As I've talked before, I've had the privilege of being on the inside for the recruiting of a four-star athlete who has offers from coast-to-coast. This young man was at the now infamous shirt ripping meeting with Tennessee coaches earlier this year. You may remember that during the recruiting weekend, Vol coaches got the recruits in a room and began screaming and hollering and pumping the players up by ripping off their shirts and encourages the athletes to join them.
Talking with the recruit's Dad the following Monday, he remarked how stupid the move was and figured his son would feel the same way. To his surprise, the boy had just the opposite reaction. To quote his son, "It was kind of cool. It was just crazy."
How often we forget how it feels to be 17 years-old. Give credit to these Auburn coaches. They are locked in and in-tune with how these kids think. We see a Hummer and think stupid. They see it as cool and something they want to be a part of. If we'd allow ourselves a moment, maybe we'd secretly admit it's kind of cool too.
For the record, it's been reported that Alabama coaches were called in from their assignments and redirected to the same schools that Auburn assistants were visiting earlier in the week.
Who's stupid now?