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Add Charles Barkley to Very Long List of People Who Hate Gene Chizik

Dec 15, 2008 – 2:40 PM
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Bruce Ciskie

Bruce Ciskie %BloggerTitle%

Something tells me the list of "People Who Like Gene Chizik" is a bit shorter than this one.

We've already told you why the Chizik hiring at Auburn is, um, questionable. Fans have had their say, and they're not happy.



Time now for the alumni to chime in. We'll start with one of Auburn's most visible alums: Charles Barkley. I don't think he's happy.
"I think race was the No. 1 factor," said Barkley, who played basketball for three seasons at Auburn during the early 1980s. "You can say it's not about race, but you can't compare the two resumes and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst resume."

"I'm just very disappointed. I just thought Turner Gill would be the perfect choice for two reasons: He's a terrific coach and we needed to make a splash. I thought we had to do something spectacular to bring attention to the program. Clearly, if we'd hired a black coach, it would have created a buzz."
Ouch.

I understand Barkley's frustrations. We are in a situation where there aren't nearly enough minority coaches in big-time college football.

Turner Gill is a great coach who will not finish his career at Buffalo. I have no idea why Auburn didn't hire him, and I have no reason to think Gill wouldn't have taken the job.

But while there are many, many reasons to hate the Chizik hire, I don't think race is one of them. They got a guy who is familiar with Auburn football. Chizik has worked in that environment before, and he cherishes the chance to go back there.

ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach notes one of the big reasons why this is a bad move by Auburn.
They needed a coach who was charismatic enough and confident enough to stare into the eyes of Alabama coach Nick Saban and not blink.

More than anything else, the Tigers needed to do something to sway some of the momentum away from Tuscaloosa.

Instead, Auburn hired a coach who seemed to be a dead man walking at Iowa State. In recent weeks, Chizik demoted both his coordinators and fired two assistant coaches. That's not a sign of stability.
I may disagree to an extent, but I'm all for Barkley's crusade here. This is an uncomfortable issue that absolutely needs to be addressed. Not only that, but it turns out he has a history of being upset with Auburn over coaching hires.
Barkley, an 11-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medal winner, said he served on Auburn's search committee for a new basketball coach after the 2003-04 season.

Barkley said he told Auburn officials he would serve on the committee only if the school was ready to hire a black coach. Barkley said he presented three African-American candidates for consideration: former Indiana coach Mike Davis, then-Virginia Commonwealth coach Jeff Capel and then-UAB coach Mike Anderson.

Barkley said all three candidates wanted to coach at Auburn. Instead, the Tigers hired then-Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo, a white candidate. Lebo has a 61-68 record in his fifth season at Auburn.
Looks like Barkley was right when it came to the basketball search, based on what's happened since. Time will tell if Auburn dropped the ball on the football search, too.

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