So you’ve just been hired as a coach for Auburn’s football program, congrats! Whether you are overseeing the whole thing, coordinating one side of the ball, training a position group, or trying to make sure a bunch of young men don’t get Rhabdo while still pushing their bodies to the very limit of physical fitness, let me be the first to say welcome to the FAUMILY®. Auburn is special, and I mean that both in the sense that it is unique and also how your aunt says it when she is describing your cousin who is a bit crazy. I have been an Auburn fan for a while now, and have seen coaches succeed and fail for a variety of reasons. I am happy to now share with you what I have learned.
SUCCESS AS A FOOTBALL COACH AT AUBURN!
FIND A SIGNATURE LOOK
You might think, ‘I’m here to coach ball, I don’t get into the fashion scene.’ You are wrong. You are now in the marketing business whether you like it or not, and you are marketing Auburn, UnderArmour, and the limits of what you can make middle-aged white men wear to football games. Here’s the thing, they will wear whatever you wear because you are a coach and therefore someone worth emulating. So go crazy!
Gene got those things custom made, then enough people wanted to look like that they were made and sold and literally were not able to be kept in stock. Y’all think I’m joking. I personally know people who still own their shacket.
The head of the staff you are replacing wore sweater vests over mock turtle neck t-shirts for a while and guess what, people bought them. People went and got sweater vests made of basketball shorts material and wore them without a hint of irony because coach did. Again, this is your chance to express yourself and also to see what you can get people to do. Win more games, and Auburn fans will follow you into the depths of fashion.
This isn’t only applicable to head coaches either. Even Auburn assistants have had their looks co-opted by the fanbase. This is key to building a reputation as a “fan-favorite” is to make yourself memorable.
Just don’t create a culture of delinquency among players while you’re at it, if you want to be retained.
GET FORMER PLAYERS AROUND YOU AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
You know what Auburn loves to see? Guys who used to play at Auburn come back and wave on the 20 yard line at home football games. They love even more to hear that the current coaching staff is bringing them back to speak to the team, to work out in the facility, or to coach various position groups (maybe not that one). Bo Jackson, one of the guys who hired you and maybe the greatest athlete to ever turn o2 into Co2, is a great pick to just have roaming the sidelines. I would say don’t waste a Bo Jackson visit on a small game and save him for the big ones, but you should have him at as many games as possible your first season.
Takeo Spikes too. Have Takeo Spikes do stuff. Whether it is a video for the big screen or a speech to the team, having Takeo Spikes do stuff is a great way to make the fanbase excited about what you’re doing. Get Charles Barkley to say your name on TV, and then get him to come stand next to you before the Iron Bowl.
LEAN INTO THE CREED
I see this is already being done, and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me.
This one is all thanks to Gene Chizik. He didn’t write the creed, but he was the first to weaponize it. The Creed is a collection of proverbs and truisms—a Chicken Soup for the Auburn Soul—that generally makes Auburn people calm down and feel secure that someone who “gets it” is in charge. Is it a weird cult? No, how dare you. It is a perfectly normal cult in the most straightforward and widely accepted definitions of the world “cult.”
The best part of the Creed is everyone agrees it’s cheesy, yet it still works. You keep posting photoshopped images with words from it superimposed in orange and blue and we will relax and let you do your job for at least one game. It’s like when the guest Pastor tells us to open our Bibles at the beginning of the sermon. We all subconsciously go “Oh, good, he isn’t a total heretic, let’s see what he says.”
What Would Bruce Pearl Do? It is no secret Bruce Pearl is the most popular person on campus. The man is—at the time of me writing this article—winless in the SEC this season, and yet he is still beloved and his seat is as cool as his generally beloved new beard. So ride that man’s coat-tails. Glom onto his popularity at every turn. Get him to take pictures with you, and even ask if you can sit in on the bench one game. After all, we are Totally a Basketball School® all because of one man’s personality.
Before you take the dias at a fundraising or speaking event, ask yourself WWBPD? Would Bruce Pearl tell some boring story or just spew forth a bunch of coach-speak? No. Would Bruce Pearl refuse to take the blame for losses or throw his players under the bus? No. Would Bruce Pearl have more fun than everyone in the room, making them want to be around him so they can be having as much fun as he is? YES. Bruce Pearl exudes positivity, even when he is taking the blame for a tough home loss. He gets people excited about what he is selling, because he is excited about it.
Hopefully these Top Tips will help you win the fanbase and keep it on your side, at least until you start winning tons of games. We all know winning games is the best way to get Auburn fans to love you. Unless you win games while running an offense they don’t like or don’t beat the two best teams in the country consistently or don’t meet expectations no one could have met anyway. The good news is, they will pay you a fortune to go away!