AUBURN, Ala. — It was a nice line anyway, when Gus Malzahn told the Auburn family his coaching staff had converged with “one heartbeat and one vision.”
It’d be even nicer if it were completely true. Although it’s not necessarily Malzahn’s fault one coach isn’t all in.
Don’t blame Rich Bisaccia for flirting with the Dallas Cowboys, after reports surfaced late Wednesday night from two reputable news organizations Bisaccia was being heavily courted to prolong his 11-year streak of coaching special teams in the NFL.
Bisaccia surely worked his butt off for all 20 days he spent in noiseless harmony with his co-workers. But hey, a better offer comes along, you’re a fool not to at least consider it.
And when there’s no strings attached? Even easier to find an exit plan.
It’s common practice for NCAA Division I universities to go about their hirings of coaches, both head and assistant, and let them get right to work without the formality of actually signing a contract. (Malzahn’s letter of agreement, signed Dec. 4, stipulated he and Auburn had until Jan. 15 to finalize a complete contract.)
Whether Bisaccia ever signed a contract might not be relevant. Nowhere in previous years’ Auburn position coach contracts are stipulations listed in the event the coach takes a job elsewhere and fails to fulfill the life of his contract.
An Auburn associate athletic director who commonly handles these contracts agreed Thursday the language isn’t spelled out contractually, though lawyers may contend there are loopholes behind the scenes.
At any rate, when the big boss admits he doesn’t know the status of his most important employees, shouldn’t that raise eyebrows?
News of Bisaccia’s potential three-weeks-and-out broke right around tipoff of Auburn’s basketball game against Vanderbilt in Nashville. At halftime, reporters from the Opelika-Auburn News and Montgomery Advertiser approached athletic director Jay Jacobs — the man who’s paid to address and sign off on these LOAs and contracts.
Two questions were asked, and that’s all that was necessary based on the response.
“Jay, do you know anything about one of your assistant football coaches taking another job?”
“Jay, do you know if Bisaccia has signed a contract, which would at least make the Cowboys jump through some hoops?”
Oh. OK then.
There are different schools of thought here. I happen to be the professor of How The Heck Does Your Athletic Director Not Know This Stuff? 101. Even a ‘no comment’ would’ve beaten pleading ignorance.
ESPNDallas.com and the Dallas Morning News are not hack shops, people. Nobody said for sure Bisaccia was gone, but it’s clear there’s been some contact. A day later, no announcement has been made, which leaves no clear indication of where Bisaccia stands.
Repeated inquiries to see the salaries for each of Malzahn’s nine assistants have been denied, with Auburn merely promising all contracts will be released together.
One coach, Charlie Harbison, was hired nearly seven weeks ago, and his salary figure STILL has not been disclosed. We just might be seeing the collateral damage when you put off minor details like, oh, I don’t know, signing a contract.
Can’t use the excuse they’re too busy on the recruiting trail. It’s absolutely worth mentioning that Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas have released the financial terms of their coaching staffs.
Look into this what you will. But it’s all about perception.
Aaron Brenner, firstname.lastname@example.org