AUBURN, Ala. — Head coach Gene Chizik’s inbox has been busy. Not all of it has been bad, Chizik said at his Tuesday press conference.
“Fans are exactly what they are — they’re fanatical. And I think that’s a good thing,” Chizik said. “I don’t think you can throw an umbrella over every fan, not just at Auburn but anywhere, and say ‘This is the way they all are.'”Chizik said fans have reached out to him, expressing multifaceted opinions.
“I have hundreds of emails from a lot of great fans that are very supportive and understand that when you go through struggles you continue on the path, and you don’t deviate off the path in terms of being who you are and pressing through those things,” Chizik said. “Then you have the other fans that are caught up in the winning and losing so much that it’s hard for them to see it that way.
“You know what? Both of those are fair. It depends on who you are, and it depends on how you see things from a general perspective.”
Having seen his team fall to 2-8, and needing a sizable upset at Alabama a week from Saturday to avoid the program’s first-ever 0-8 SEC campaign, Chizik said showing thick skin is a necessity to deal with criticism, for everybody involved with the program.
“If that hurts your feelings and you can’t handle that, then you shouldn’t be a player or a coach because that’s what comes with the territory,” Chizik said. “It’s very simple. In college football, in the NFL, in high school, it’s very simple. It’s all about winning or losing, and there are a lot of other things out there that really, really matter, but at the end of the day, a lot of people see wins or losses.”
The Tigers host Alabama A&M, a 7-3 FCS squad, this Saturday during Senior Day Festivities at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Thirteen Auburn seniors will be recognized in a pregame ceremony.
‘I love Auburn': For his part, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder sincerely hopes he gets the opportunity to continue working with his defense, which he said Saturday was “not built with size, strength or power right now”.
“I love Auburn. I’d love to build it and regain the tradition, the toughness of this program,” VanGorder said. “Great people, great town. Auburn is a special football place.”
VanGorder is in the first of a 2-year contract, making a $850,000 base salary after being hired away from the Atlanta Falcons. Auburn’s total defense is rated 92nd in the country, allowing 435.5 yards per game.
“I think we’ve improved the culture. We’ve got a long way to go,” VanGorder said. “Auburn deserves a great football team.”
If you’re not going: Instead of just eating those tickets or putting them up on StubHub for little more than a song, there’s another option for season-ticket holders who aren’t planning to attend Saturday’s Senior Day game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
We’re passing along this message sent to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer by Mike Tarleton, a 1990 Auburn alum:
“War Eagle to the Columbus / Phenix City Auburn Club:
Gameday for Heroes currently has 80+ military ticket requests that are on a waiting list hoping that tickets will be donated for this Saturday’s game vs. Alabama A&M.
If you are not planning to attend the game, I ask that you consider donating your unused tickets and let our military get an Auburn Gameday experience. These tickets are selling well below face value, and if you donate them, 100% of face value is considered a tax deductible donation since Gameday for Heroes is a 501(c)3 organization.
If you wish to donate any tickets, please reply to this email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know your tickets will be available.
Ticket donations may be dropped off before Thursday at 6 p.m. ET at Chill Yogurt Café, 1639 Bradley Park Drive in Columbus.
Thanks and War Eagle!!
Mike Tarleton ’90”
Transition time: Chizik said there’s a chance more young guys could see increased playing time Saturday, as part of his evaluation plan for the future he outlined Sunday.
“All of the other guys, you hope have a chance to get in and get some experience. It just depends on how the game unfolds,” Chizik said. “Again, you want to be able to try and play some players, but your number one goal is to try and win the game.”