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November 30, 2012

“Odd” phone survey confuses Auburn fans

ATLANTA – After hanging up the phone Thursday, Justin Hayles was puzzled.

“I just thought it was odd,” Hayles, 24, of Auburn said. “They never told me who was funding the survey. I even asked for the person’s supervisor, and she didn’t even know what to tell me.”

Hayles was one of 500 Lee County citizens – which encompasses Auburn, Opelika, Smiths Station and parts of Phenix City and Waverly – randomly polled for the hot-button question: who do fans want to see hired as Auburn’s next football coach?

It appears those questioned are all season-ticket holders at Jordan-Hare Stadium or members of Tigers Unlimited Foundation, a university alumni donor system. Hayles, an Auburn grad who works in Valley, Ala., is among the latter group.

Hayles said he was asked for his favorite and least favorite selection as coach, given the options of Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn, former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino (ousted by scandal in April) and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

What threw Hayles for a loop was this: it wasn’t clear whether Auburn University was gathering data to actually assist with the search process.

“I can’t remember if (the surveyor) gave me her name or not,” Hayles said. “One question they did ask toward the end, if I went to church, how often was it – every day, a couple of times per month, once a quarter, once a year.”

The Opelika-Auburn News reported Friday that professional pollster David B. Hill, an Auburn grad, was in charge of the mysterious survey.

More fans said they were unsure (26 percent) than selecting any particular individual, the O-A News reported. Malzahn was tops of the quartet with 25 percent of the vote, while Petrino took 18 percent, Fisher had 15 percent and Smart had 12 percent of the vote, with 2 percent selecting a different name.

Friday morning, with a number of fans confused as to the source of the poll, Auburn Director of Public Affairs Brian Keeter was reached by the Ledger-Enquirer, asked if the university was involved.

“We don’t know anything about it,” Keeter said. “I mean, what you just told me is the first I’ve heard of it.”

Rumors have run rampant as to how far along Auburn’s four-man committee of athletic director Jay Jacobs, former Heisman winners Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson (celebrating his 50th birthday Friday) and famed businessman Mac Crawford have progressed in their search.

“I’m okay with them waiting it out,” Hayles said. “I’d rather they take the time to find the right fit for the job. I know they’ve got recruiting deadlines and that kind of stuff, but I’m hoping they take the extra couple of days or a week to figure it out.”


  1. So… what was the results of the poll? Lol

    Comment by Jay — November 30, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  2. Think that’d be important? Oops. Added.
    Thanks for reading.

    Comment by Aaron Brenner — November 30, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  3. I saw WarBlogle say something about this earlier and he said the results were an almost unanimous Malzahn vote

    Comment by Colin — November 30, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  4. My bad, I didn’t see that you posted the results before my comment. Oops sorry!

    Comment by Colin — November 30, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

  5. Geez I hope we dont get Gus

    Comment by Brian — November 30, 2012 @ 7:11 pm

  6. I hope they get a good 1 (Gus, Patterson, Smart)! I’ll be severely bummed if they go w/ Petrino! I’ll be ashamed to wear my Auburn shirts!

    Comment by Chris Korchnak — December 1, 2012 @ 7:19 am

  7. Petrino is the best option if you want to turn this mess around quickly and get back to competing with the top of the SEC. Auburn football is a $100 million/yr business. We better put people in postion that are competent enough to run it.

    Comment by Russell — December 1, 2012 @ 10:36 am

  8. Petrino, as the best option. Let’s just see how that would play out. We hire him. He is given a very large salary that will have to stand strong again all the other SEC coaches. Then we have to watch our backs and our young ladies backs to make sure that he doesn’t pull another stunt like he has in the past. Hey boy’s the writing is on the wall. This is going to be a big no. We got our championship and we have our championship skilled players in the barn. Let’s get a coach that will eat, sleep, and breathe the Auburn values. NOT make us look like a bunch of blood thirsty animals that only want to beat Bama. Oh I want to BEAT them don’t get me wrong. But I’m not going to sail down that river with Petrino in my boat and neither should you.

    Comment by Christopher McCleskey — December 4, 2012 @ 9:27 am

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