Here's a question for you to ponder over this Memorial Day Weekend: Would you rather have a football coach that's likeable, fan friendly and somewhat successful or one who's ultra successful, but is a jerk who could care less about his fans and only thinks of himself and winning?
The columnist we all love to hate, Paul Finebaum, writes an excellent story this week on Florida's Urban Meyer and Alabama's Nick Saban. He writes, "These are the two best coaches in the SEC, perhaps the entire nation. Collectively, they own three of the last six BCS titles. (But) Nobody would accuse Meyer or Saban of being warm and fuzzy, or even nice or pleasant. I've met both and you could catch a cold sitting next to either."
There's little doubt they are the two best coaches in the SEC. It's really not up for debate at this point. There's also no debating they are the two most disingenuous, pompous and self-serving coaches in America. If you are a Gator or Tide fan how to do you feel about these guys? Sure, publicly most are going to say they love him. But deep down are these the kind of people you want representing your school?
I don't know the answer to that question. National titles and conference championships make you mighty proud of old State U. Then again, how does it feel to have a coach who views your school as just another job? How do you feel about a coach who views talking with fans as a necessary evil - just another part of the job?
Gene Chizik has yet to win a game at Auburn. He may be the surprise hire of 2008. Then again, he could pick up where he left off in Ames, Iowa. But we do know one thing already: Auburn fans are eating him up.
He's saying all the right things as he makes his way across the South speaking at Auburn Club meetings. Here's a comment from a poster on an Auburn message board who attended Chizik's talk in Columbus, Georgia on Wednesday:
"I was at that meeting (Columbus/Phenix City Auburn Club). My opinion is this: He either understands what the rest of the Auburn family understands - it is about Family and the Auburn Creed, or he should get an Academy Award for best actor in the world. I really think he gets what being an Auburn person is about. He really gets it, and I believe he does, we are going to be ok. I will have to admit I was not excited when he was hired, but I also think I was wrong. Hope he proves me wrong about my initial reaction. Think we might have a winner."
How many times has that been written about Meyer or Saban?
Orlando Sentinel writer Mike Bianchi wrote recently, "Meyer is obviously a great coach, but he doesn't really cultivate relationships with fans or media. He's simply not very accessible or embraceable. I don't really know Urban Meyer. Does anybody?"
Finebaum echoes the same sentiment about the Alabama coach. "It's the same way here with Saban. I don't believe many members of the media who cover Saban really know him. I suspect the Crimson Tide fan base feels the same way. They are mesmerized by his rock star status. They are intimidated by his presence. But do they really like him?"
It's a great question. How would you feel if one of these two guys were coaching the school you love? How would you answer my question? Is it ok in this day and age to have a highly successful hired gun that doesn't hold the same beliefs or priorities as your fanbase, but manages to win on the football field?
Where do you fall in the debate?
Editor's Note: Track'em Tigers will be taking Memorial Day off to smoke cigars and drink beer - there's no need to beat around the bush. I hope all of you have a nice, relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Don't forget to pause for a moment and remember the reason we celebrate this long weekend. War Eagle and we'll talk to you on Tuesday.