AUBURN, Ala. – This football season has caused a lot of Auburn fans to reach their boiling point.
Former Tigers fullback Heath Evans, now an NFL Network analyst who spent a decade in the NFL, is one of them. Evans belittled the program Friday morning on ESPN 97.3 The Zone in Birmingham.
“Listen, I didn’t bleed on that field. But guess what, I went through two losing seasons as an Auburn Tiger, (and) we lost a certain way. We lost with pride and integrity,” Evans said. “We lost in a way that you couldn’t find a player on that field that ever quit. We lost in a way that also allowed us to come back and beat the tar out of Georgia when we had lost (a bunch of games) in a row… when they were third in the country. We held our own vs. some of the better Alabama teams ever with Shaun Alexander.
“So I have no problem with a losing season. They’re gonna come. It’s the way this game is, it’s cyclical at times.”
Evans said he trained with Auburn during the 2011 NFL lockout for 12 weeks, months after the Tigers won the BCS national championship, and didn’t like what he observed.
“I saw this coming. And nobody wanted to believe me,” Evans said. “But when you’re around Bill Belichick for four years and Sean Payton for another two and Mike Holmgren for four years, you get to see how this game is built and what makes champions and what makes losers.
“It was a scary offseason for me in 2011, because I bleed orange and blue, I love that school, I love those kids, and I love what an Auburn man is supposed to stand for. It’s hard to watch football right now on Saturday afternoon.”
Among the problems Evans labeled was “structure, accountability, and most importantly, mental and physical toughness. It’s nonexistent. It’s absolutely pathetic. I know those are harsh words.”
Evans took nothing away from Jay Jacobs and Gene Chizik, as men. But their job security as athletic director and head coach have been under intense scrutiny, and it didn’t sound as though Evans was vouching for their return.
“They’re great people. I love them both. Jay and Gene have been amazing to me,” Evans said. “But you’ve got to perform. Gene knows it. Jay knows it. This is the business we’re all in.
“The great thing about Auburn fans and Alabama fans: they know their football. They’re not dumb fans. They can look on the field and say, ‘wow, there’s mental mistakes all over the place. What’s going on here?’
“I think these kids are being coddled and babied, and it’s the opposite of what these kids need.”
Evans’ final rant was devoted to the Montgomery Advertiser’s recent report of Auburn employing a private security firm to enforce player curfews.
“It’s humiliating. It tells me we’ve got a bunch of Dez Bryants on our team, and it’s a joke,” Evans said. “Ask Nick Saban if he’s doing that. You end up recruiting one bad apple, you can’t be perfect. And sometimes, that player is so talented that you give him extra strikes. You do.
“If you don’t have mentally tough and physically tough players, you’re going to lose. Well, guess what? Mentally and physically tough players, they’ll make their curfew. They’re going to show up to practice on time. They’re going to be prepared to play every single Saturday. That’s the Patriot Way. I firmly believe in it. Look across the state, Auburn fans. The Patriot Way can be done in college football, with grand success.”
Johnson tweet creates a stir: Questions abound for an impressive incoming class of recruits should Chizik be dismissed, and one big name has already shared his thoughts publicly.
Four-star quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who’s currently injured for Carver-Montgomery, was asked on Twitter if he would stick around if Auburn made a change.
Johnson replied, “no sorry I’m committed to chiz and coach troop”, referring to assistant head coach and wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor.
That tweet has since been deleted. But elsewhere on Johnson’s timeline, he wrote to a follower, “I’m committed to auburn and coach chiz if he get fired then I’m gone he has no reason to get fired he not out there playing”.
He later wrote to that same follower, “everybody goes through a building stage and that’s what it is next year want be like that when we get there”
Three other class of 2013 verbal commits rated five stars by recruiting services, all on the defensive side of the ball, have voiced their allegiance to Auburn. On Thursday, the Tigers landed junior college running back Cameron Artis-Payne out of southern California, one of the top juco prospects in the country.