SEC Football: Auburn's Gene Chizik Is Proving to Be Thorn in Nick Saban's Side

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IApril 24, 2010

Larry Burton (Panama City Beach, Fla.) First off, I would like to say that I almost lost my father this week.

He's battling many illnesses and blood clots in his leg almost spelled the end. Though other battles still rage, the blood clot crisis is over for now.

In my time spent with him this week two things helped develop this story, my father's love for sports and his keen insight that perhaps age helps you develop.

For the record, I am a die hard Alabama fan, while my father is an Auburn fan.

I read the sports section to him at the hospital and he was happy to hear that Gene Chizik had gotten Spanish Fort's Reese Dismukes, one of the nation's best centers, to sign with Auburn over Alabama and many other schools.

What made it worse was that he was from the Mobile area that Alabama had virtually seemed to have all sealed up and it was someone the Tide could certainly use in a year or two.

My father almost delighted in seeing the look on my face as I read the story to him, then stopped me to give me the insight that only age and wisdom give a person.

"Did you honestly expect that Saban would sign everybody he wanted and shut out Chizik like he did Tubberville?" My dad asked. "Tubberville thought he could fight with Saban as an equal and he was wrong."

"Chizik came in as a man nowhere near Saban's stature and he wasn't dumb enough to think otherwise. It was better to simply be a thorn in his side and hope for infection."

He continued with a smile. "Instead of trying to win everything, Chizik's trying for just one or two at a time. You don't win a war with a single battle, but a lot of little ones."

"Sometimes something as small as a germ can bring down the mighty elephant, it just takes time and persistence." he concluded.

My father's insight from a hospital bed opened my eyes and made me wonder if Gene Chizik had indeed taken that approach.

If Chizik can win just a few recruits like this, he can show other top names that Auburn is indeed a player to sign other big names and by doing that the thorn becomes a little more sore for Alabama.

Saban will continue to win the war for a long time to come, but Chizik win his battles in that war, perhaps even to the point of winning games against the Crimson Tide.

Alabama should keep their guard up and antibiotics at the ready. This thorn from Auburn may be just the first of many.

Anyone who thought Gene Chizik couldn't be a thorn in Saban's side can now see otherwise.