The Daily Cavalcade - Chizik And Race
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik & AD Jay Jacobs
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik & AD Jay Jacobs
Posted Dec 24, 2008

The issue of the Auburn hiring of Gene Chizik and the media's analysis of it. ... it's the new Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy with a thought or two on the college football world coming every day this off-season.

Fiu's DAILY Cavalcade of Whimsy

Chizik, Gill, and the Race Card ... Dec. 24

a.k.a. Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances OR ... The obvious attempt to keep readers coming to the site on a regular basis during the off-season.
By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... Fire off your thoughts  

This Week's Whimsies: Tuesday - Holiday Wish List For All 119 Teams

Instead of the Cavalcade going on an eight-month hiatus, from here on throughout the off-season this will be a daily column of sorts with one or two musings, blurbs, thoughts, or madcap moments of reflection every Monday through Friday, or whenever the mood strikes.... MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Past Whimsies
- 2008 Season
2008 Preseason Cavalcade
- 2007 Season
- 2006 Season

"I'm used to seeing people promoted ahead of me ... friends, co-workers, Tibor. I never thought it'd be my own wife." ... If you want to fire on Auburn’s hiring of Gene Chizik, fine. The guy was 5-19 as the Iowa State head coach and has done absolutely nothing to show that he deserves to get the bump up to a higher-profile gig like Auburn. But if you’re going to throw race into the mix and say that Chizik got hired, and current Buffalo head man Turner Gill didn’t, because of skin color, then step up and fire. Don’t insinuate and don’t imply; man up and actually use the word racist, and take the consequences that come with it.

It’s one thing to wonder aloud whether or not race turned out to be a factor in Chizik’s hiring, it’s the media’s job to openly question every aspect of an outside-the-box move like this, but it’s another to call Auburn racist without actually calling the program racist. Several columnists, talking heads, and talk show hosts are doing everything to imply that race had something to do with this, but no one outside of Charles Barkley is actually being held accountable for making the accusation despite not saying the words needed to actually make the accusation.

Whether or not you believe Barkley was out of line with his criticisms, at least he came out and said what he felt. It’s not that he originally said that Chizik was hired over Gill because “race was the No. 1 factor,” it’s that he didn’t have any proof, despite having an inner knowledge of Auburn athletics like few do, and that he felt the need to backtrack. For Barkley and several other media types to blame Auburn for not hiring Gill because of skin color is the epitome of irresponsible journalism without diving into the situation to see if AU President Jay Gouge has a history of hiring based on race, or if there have been any other instances remotely comparable to this one. It's sort of like the steroid issue. If Barry Bonds, and others accused of juicing up, are clean, then where are the defamation of character lawsuits? If Auburn didn't hire Gill because of skin color, then someone will start filing the motions yesterday.

Of course, figuring out whether or not Gouge hired Chizik because he’s white is impossible to do without a lie detector and a shot of sodium pentothal, but If you're going to make the claim that skin color was a factor, then you have to have enough conviction to say or write the words, “Auburn University hired Gene Chizik because he is white, and it didn’t hire Turner Gill because he isn’t. Therefore, the people who hired Chizik are racists, and the University should take the proper action to rectify the situation.” But no one’s going to do that, although Barkley came close.

Race is always going to be in the equation in a case like this considering the shameful past of many SEC programs once used football as a tool to promote an agenda of hate and ignorance. That's why everyone and anyone who continues to write and talk about this situation has to be extremely responsible to all the parties involved. Auburn, and the rest of the SEC, have come a long, long way from where things were at not all that long ago.

Is this fishy? Absolutely. This is one of the most bizarre hires in recent college football history at almost every level. Do I think race had anything to do with Gill not being hired? No, but considering the woeful lack of minority college football head coaches it wouldn't be a shocker. However, every insider I’ve talked to insists that this whole controversy was a perfect storm of tough and ill-timed coincidences with race having nothing to do with the final decision.

Had Auburn hired Texas Tech’s Mike Leach, or a big-name head coach or a top coordinator over Gill, there would be no controversy. Isn’t it possible that Gill, who has done wonders for Buffalo but whose team wasn't that great, plain and simply got beaten out for the job, even though by all accounts Gouge came away from the interview impressed? Isn’t it possible that Auburn wanted someone with Auburn ties and that Chizik, who’s known for being able to run great defenses, was what Gouge was looking for? Isn’t it possible that race has nothing to do with the reason that Syracuse, Nebraska, the team Gill played for, and others haven’t hired Gill yet, and that Auburn just so happened to be in the center of the controversy because it made a surprise hire? You don’t think that hiring Gill would’ve been the far easier thing to do?

The race angle is important to discuss and explore as the current hot button issue, and hard questions need to be asked. But find the story. Keep pressing Gouge and Gill until a satisfactory answer is found. Don't get lazy with such an important topic.