Sure, it has been less than two months since Alabama crushed Notre Dame to win their third title in less than four years, but pundits are already predicting who will challenge the Tide based on this year’s recruting classes.However, the rankings of recruiting classes are only half of the equation – the other half is evaluating how much a coaching staff is able to improve a player once they are on campus. For example, one underperforming team with highly-rated recruting class just had a 6’5″, 313 pound offensive tackle for four years and he could still only bench press 225 pounds three times.
Numerous storylines will dominate the headlines such as whether Johnny Manziel can have a Heisman-repeat, Alabama can have a championship three-peat, or whether the “Urban Renewal” in Columbus will put a stop to Saban’s dominance.
However, the main story to follow in 2013 will be the closing of the BCS Era, and, as we turn the page on this controversial period, I believe we can say for certain that Gene Chizik can be given the title of Worst Championship Coach of the BCS Era, and perhaps in college football history.
I was reminded Tuesday of exactly how bad of a coach Gene Chizik was when news broke that John Sullen, a two year starter at offensive line for Chizik, bench pressed 225 pounds a whopping 3, (yes, as in once, twice, three times and done) times. That’s a number high school backups can do!
Keep in mind that Sullen is 6’5″, 313 pounds.
Now, Chizik is not the “Worst Championship Coach” because one player could not bench press a whole lot nor does he have that title because EVERY player that participated in Auburn’s Pro Day bench pressed a rep total that would have made them last or near last in their position group at the Combine.
Instead, these numbers are mere indicators of what made Chizik’s fall from 14-0 national championship winning coach to 3-9 unemployed coach.
It was clear to anyone who watched SEC football the last two years that the Auburn Tigers were undersized, undeveloped, undisciplined, and outcoached. While other team’s players got bigger, faster, and better, Auburn’s plateaued or got worse.
The debacle of a 3-9 season occurred despite having the highest paid assistant coaching staff in the country and three straight top ten recruiting classes.
On Chizik’s watch, the Auburn program went from SEC West power to doormat with a championship in between. The program also went from very few off the field incidents to rampant drug use and major incidents including four players directly participating in an armed robbery.
As the BCS Era has its curtain call this season, the list of coaches who won titles in this period may not grow longer as Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Les Miles could each make a run for a title while Mack Brown and Bob Stoops are a little less likely, and Phillip Fulmer, Bobby Bowden, Jim Tressel and Gene Chizik are out of coaching. Other title winners include Larry Coker (coaching at Texas- San Antonio) and Pete Carroll (coaching the Seattle Seahawks).
However, what is clear is that Gene Chizik will go down as the worst title winning coach of the era. The best news for him, however, is that his career in broadcasting may be far better than his coaching career as his performance covering National Signing Day for ESPNU was very well received.