If it isn't broke, don't try to fix it.
Head coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers are bringing back what has become a summer tradition on the Plains. It has also become the place to be and to be seen for top recruits in the summer.
"Big Cat Weekend" was started in the summer of 2009 by former head coach Gene Chizik. Malzahn, an offensive coordinator under Chizik, knows a good thing when he sees it. It was announced last week that he has decided to bring back the event-filled weekend on May 24-26.
Keeping the good thing going is a smart move by Malzahn and the rest of the Auburn coaching staff.
The weekend is geared around bringing in the top 25 to 30 targets on the Tigers' wish list for the class of 2014. Even though it's a football recruiting event, it has very little to do with football and a lot more to do with establishing relationships with the recruits and their families.
Under the former staff, Big Cat was a fun-filled weekend that included activities that ranged from cookouts to Family Feud. Former RB coach and recruiting coordinator Curtis Luper gave Auburn fans a glimpse of the weekend last spring (per Charles Goldberg, al.com):
But it's really an opportunity for the players to socialize and for the families to socialize with our families and our players. They can forget about football and recruiting for a weekend. We have a lot of unique games and contests, some Family Feud-type contests, and other unique things.
It is hard to argue against the success of Big Cat Weekend over the past few years. According to Brian Matthews of Auburn Undercover, a total of 42 commitments from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes were visitors on Big Cat Weekend.
Hard to argue with that.
There was one hiccup during Big Cat Weekend with the prior staff. In 2009, during the first rendition of Big Cat Weekend, the event came to a close by allowing the prospects to partake in the tradition of rolling Toomer's Corner.
A big crowd of Auburn fans came together to cheer the prospects, and former assistant coach Trooper Taylor is thought to have announced the names of the prospects to the crowd.
That resulted in a secondary violation that took Taylor off of the recruiting trail until November 30 of 2009. It also resulted in commissioner Mike Slive forcing a member of the coaching staff (head coach Gene Chizik, in this case) to call six prospects that were in attendance and read a statement verbatim, according to Evan Woodberry of al.com.
("Just wait until Slive puts the hammer down on Auburn for paying Scam Newton, Pawwwwwl," said a Bama fan that just read that paragraph.)
Minor hiccups aside, the event has become a roaring success for the Auburn football program. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any successful football program, and establishing relationships off the field with players and their families is of the utmost importance.
Malzahn has preached from Day 1 of his short tenure that it's a "new day" on the Plains of Auburn. He has lived up to that promise.
He did not retain any of the assistants on Chizik's staff and instilled a new mindset among the Auburn football team. With Big Cat weekend coming back for a fifth straight year, it is one of the few things that Malzahn will continue from the Chizik era.
No reason to put an end to a good thing.
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