Many people point to Auburn's stellar 2013 recruiting class (currently ranked ninth in the country by Rivals) as a reason to retain head coach Gene Chizik beyond the 2012 season. Chizik has garnered commitments from three 5-star athletes for the 2013 recruiting class, giving the Tigers the second-most 5-stars committed. Only Southern California has more.
With Auburn going through one of its worst seasons in modern history, recruits have surprisingly remained firm in their commitments to Auburn. The Auburn coaching staff has done a great job of keeping the recruiting class intact.
Talk of Chizik not returning in 2013 have caused some recruits like Jeremy Johnson to stand up for who they hope is their coach in 2013.
Coach chizik is staying at auburn and next year the class of 2013 will turn it around War eagle!!!!!!— Mr. Super 6A(@MRSUPER6A) November 11, 2012
In the last few days, Auburn has had two of its top recruits say that their pledge to sign with the Tigers will waver if Chizik is dismissed as head coach.
Johnson, a 4-star QB and one of the prized recruits of the 2013 class, said that he would no longer be committed to the Tigers if Chizik is fired.
On Monday, 5-star LB Reuben Foster said the same thing.
Recruiting is the backbone of a program. A team is only as good as the talent it brings in (if that talent is developed). One common trend of recent national championship teams is consistent top-10 recruiting classes. Therefore, it is very important to bring in top classes.
In Auburn's case, the 2013 recruiting class should not factor into the decision on whether to retain or relieve Chizik of his duties.
If a coaching change occurs, the search committee and other Auburn administrators cannot make this hire with only the 2013 season or the 2013 recruiting class in mind. The decision has to be made looking at the Auburn football program with a long-term vision (10 or more years) and where they want it to be.
Has Chizik given those decision-makers any reason to believe he can have the Auburn program competing at a championship level in 10 years if he remains as coach?
No he has not.
You can look long and hard for a reason and you won't find one. Maybe if Auburn was able to put up a fight against one of its biggest rivals on Saturday night there could be hope.
Maybe if three-fourths of the remaining crowd in Jordan-Hare Stadium in the second half was not wearing red and black or disguised as empty seats there could be an argument. Auburn fans have stopped believing in Chizik, though.
While this class is very talented and has the potential to do great things on the Plains, why should Auburn fans expect anything different from this class than from Chizik's last three recruiting classes? Each of the last three classes have been ranked in the top 10.
Some of those players are not on campus due to their own negligence. Look at Mike Dyer or the four players kicked off the team for armed robbery in 2011 for an example.
Others have not been developed and coached up to the potential they showed as high school athletes.
A perfect example is DeAngelo Benton. Benton was ranked as the seventh-best receiver in the nation coming out of high school. He was a prized recruit that switched his commitment from LSU to Auburn in 2009 out of prep school. Benton has 15 catches in his Auburn career.
If some of the top recruits in this class get away with a coaching change, that's okay. Because Auburn will always get its share of top recruits, no matter who the coach is. This is because of its geographical location and its brand.
Being able to recruit the state of Georgia, Florida and Alabama will always play in the Tigers' favor for recruiting.
Auburn is one of the winningest programs in college football history and everyone knows that the right coach can win at Auburn and win big. The last three coaches for Auburn have all had undefeated seasons.
So, while the loss of top talent on the recruiting trail may sting, it should not be a factor in deciding if Chizik will walk the Auburn sidelines in 2013.