Itís been a week now for Crimson Tide followers, inhabitants of this proud state and the rest of the SEC to bask in the glow in the latest college football accomplishment. As you know, the Tide blasted Notre Dame 42-14 for its third title in four years, an unprecedented fourth in a row for the state, an unheard-of seven straight for the SEC.
Letís face it, Nick Saban has a machine going in Tuscaloosa, giving new meaning to cherry-picking when it comes to recruiting. Donít fit the mold of an outside linebacker or offensive lineman by an inch? Sorry Joe, we got Ďem lined up to sign up. What heís been able to do in this age of equal scholarships and supposedly comparable talent is amazing. A key member of the club turns pro early or goes down with injury, Sabanís so stock-piled with talent he just plugs another player in thatís just as gifted.
So what to do if youíre the school on Alabamaís schedule the Tide wants to beat the worst year-in-and-year-out? Cancel the program? Wouldíve been nice to have at least taken a sabbatical during the disastrous run of Gene Chizik and his maligned staff in 2012.
But Auburnís not going away, not by a long shot. The Tigers, lest anyone forget, have been in this position before. Paul Bryant ruled the decade of the sixties, winning three of his six national titles. Only when Auburn got the unstoppable combination of Pat Sullivan-to-Terry Beasley did the freight train from Tuscaloosa hit a bump in the road. Then the next decade, it took Auburn nine excruciating tries before it halted another stretch of dominance and it may have taken the greatest athlete the world has ever seen, Bo Jackson, to do that.
And thatís what the Tigers have to have now. Start at the top and get a guy whoís competent. Pat Dye was, Doug Barfield, nice a guy as he remains to this date was not. Gus Malzahn is, Gene Chizik, for all his good-heartedness, was not, at least toward the end. Next, surround yourself with winners. Dye did that, and thus far, Malzahn has too. But most importantly, sign talented players.
See how many Auburn players get drafted this April. That will speak for itself the kind of talent Chizik placed Auburnís welfare with. Malzahn, in addition to landing at least three staffers known for their recruiting prowess, hasnít hesitated to go the JUCO route in positions the Tigers are currently so poor. That includes linebackers, secondary members and skill position guys.
This time, the road back to respectability will be even steeper than before. Saban appears to at least be Bryantís equal, if not his superior. The rest of the league has never been stronger in history. Next season Auburn has to play at LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Tennessee, and then hosts the two best teams from this past season, Georgia and Alabama. Toss in up-and-coming Ole Miss and Mississippi State and the Tigers might not have as much ability as any of the above. But that can change. Rodney Garner and Dameyune Craig came back home because of a desperation call from Momma. They will help even the playing field soon.
But for now, all Auburn people can do is trust that Malzahn is what everybody thinks he is, get some players and keep the faith. That combo has worked before. Perhaps it will again.
Phil Paramoreís column appears Tuesdays in The Dothan Eagle. He can be heard weekdays from noon until 2 on AM 560 WOOF, 100.1 FM or at www.woofradio.com. He can be reached at the same website.