Because it's so damn entertaining!What I don't get is why in the world Phillip Marshall's articles keep getting posted on here....
May I present Marshall's "notes" to the Admin, President, and Trustees.
That Bryan Harsin faces a major challenge in trying to build the kind of football program he and Auburn people want while sharing the state with Nick Saban is a fact of life. Other than Pat Dye in the 1980s, nobody has consistently been able to do it in modern times.
For some Auburn coaches, it’s been like a disease of sorts. Auburn looks from the outside like a job with everything it takes to win championships. And then they find out it is really difficult.
Terry Bowden got off to a historically great start, winning his first 20 games. By the middle of 1998, he was gone and was convinced that expectations had been unrealistic.
Tommy Tuberville did lots of good things, not the least of which was beating a wounded Alabama program six consecutive times. His 2004 team was 13-0. But he won just one championship in 10 years. He truly believed he and his staff had worked miracles.
Gene Chizik won a national championship and two years later had the worst Auburn season in 60 years.
Gus Malzahn went to within seconds of a national championship in his first season. Four years later, he had a 10-win season and played in the SEC Championship Game. Mediocre seasons got the best of him and he was fired last December. To his credit, he was steadfast in his belief that Auburn could win championships. He just didn’t get it done after 2013.
And now it’s Harsin’s turn.
I well remember the day in early January of 1981. I had a one-on-one interview with Dye the morning before he was officially introduced as Auburn’s head coach. If one thing was obvious, it was that he believed Auburn could have a championship program and that toughness was where it all started. That wasn’t surprising, because Dye was a tough man. A columnist in another state once said: “He smiles, but his eyes don’t change.”
Is Harsin as tough as Dye? I don’t know that answer. But I believe he has the same mindset, that he is at a place where can accomplish his goals of winning championships at the highest level. It is clear that he is demanding and that he highly values accountability. Those are good things, and all indications are that Auburn players have embraced that approach.
From what I hear about the first week of visits, concerns about how long it would take him to understand recruiting in the SEC might be overblown
I don’t see Harsin being affected by the “disease,” but to go where he wants to go and where Auburn people want to go, he’ll need help. He is surrounded by programs that are fully committed to winning and to devoting whatever resources are required.
With Bobby Lowder’s help, Dye got that kind of support. As national alumni association president willing to spend his own money, Lowder was the driving force behind Dye being hired. Soon, Lowder was on the Board of Trustees. His influence grew, and it didn’t end with football.
Auburn Arena was built with a major push from Lowder, who was still a trustee and still wielded great influence.
Former head basketball coach Jeff Lebo told me he went to a meeting with then-president Ed Richardson to discuss a practice facility he’d been promised when he took the job. He was surprised to find Lowder there.
Lebo started to make his case and saw Lowder shaking his head. He thought “I’m not going to get my practice facility.” Lowder, instead, said Auburn basketball would never be able to break out until it had a new arena. And thus began the process that led to the opening of Auburn Arena in 2010.
Things are different now.
Trustees flatly rejected former athletics director Jay Jacobs’ proposed plan for the north end zone at Jordan-Hare Stadium, even though such a project would eventually pay for itself. Auburn was among the last SEC programs to go forward with a football-only facility, which is now under construction. Former president Steven Leath was set to reject that idea until, to their credit, trustees ordered him to move forward with it and fired him a week or so later.
I often find it amusing when I read commentary that indicates, somehow, trustees with influence in athletics are unique to Auburn. In truth, plenty of other SEC programs have trustees or wealthy donors who are more powerful and have more influence in athletics than any trustee at Auburn.
A handful of Auburn trustees understand what it takes to compete at the highest level. More of them, honestly, don’t. Some don’t even have all that much interest. If Auburn is to be what its legions of fans so desperately want it to be, there must be a meeting of minds.
The 1980s included a significant enlargement of Jordan-Hare Stadium, the addition of luxury suites, a full renovation of Sewell Hall and the construction of a now-outdated football complex. And Alabama was dragged kicking and screaming to Jordan-Hare.
Is there a personality out there strong enough to make those kinds of things happen again? Is it athletics director Allen Greene? Is it someone on the Board of Trustees? Is it a major donor whose voice must be heard? Is it Harsin? Is it someone else?
That’s a question that, at least for now, is without an answer.