Hoover, Ala. – Know what one coat of paint says to the other when both are drying? “Oh, this isn’t so bad. We could be listening to Gene Chizik.”
I know, I know. Chizik’s job is to coach football at Auburn, and he’s obviously pretty good at it, having won the BCS title and all. He isn’t paid to entertain us media folks. And that’s a good thing. Because Gene Chizik is to entertainment as Jim Belushi is to method acting.
I’ve been — irony alert! — privileged to sit through a few G-Chiz briefings, and they aren’t just dull. They’re oppressively dull. They’re dullness deployed as a weapon of mass tedium. I can understand if a guy has nothing to say; what I can’t abide is if a guy acts as if he has a lot of things he might say but chooses to share none of them.
In my view, that’s not just being dull. That’s being dull and smug. (”Smull,” to coin a lousy word.)
I mention this because Chiz the Whiz had his moment before the huddled media masses here today, and he made it as uninformative as is humanly possible. (Truth to tell, that’s my secret theory: That Chizik isn’t human but a robot created by Bill Belichick and Bill Gates. And I know Bill Gates’ field is software and not robotics, but I couldn’t think of any other famous geek named Bill.)
On Wednesday, someone had asked the South Carolina coach why he continues to give quarterback Stephen Garcia second (and third, and fourth) chances. Being all too human, Steve Spurrier said: “I guess we don’t want to kick him out for stupidity.”
Good line. Hearty laughter. Entertainment value: 10 on a scale of 10.
Chizik acts as if he has never had a set-up line. When someone seeks to broach a difficult subject, the Chizzer runs it through the mental Chiz shredder and leaves the query in tatters.
Regarding Auburn, the “difficult subject” is always the NCAA. Asked about the New York Times report that he’d been dressed down by NCAA enforcement director Julie Roe Lach at the SEC coaches’ meeting in Destin, Fla., he backed and filled and offered, “To be honest with you, it was very informative.”
Also: “I didn’t see that it was at all an angry or agitating exchange from my point of view. It was a clarification of process.”
The Times reported that Roe Lach told Chizik, speaking of the investigation into Cam Newton’s recruitment: “You’ll know when we’re finished. And we’re not finished.”
If there was anything even slightly amusing in Chizik’s numbing half-hour at the podium, it was his (perhaps unintentional) homage to Roe Lach. Asked about reports that the NCAA had turned down Florida transfer Mike Blakely’s request to be eligible immediately at Auburn, Chizik said: “The process is still ongoing. I’ll let everybody know when it’s not.”
Then someone noted that the oddsmaker Danny Sheridan had said on a Birmingham radio station his “sources” tell him the NCAA has found “a third-party bagman” that can tie Cam Newton to Auburn.
Chizik’s response: “I’ll make this real clear. The NCAA on more than one occasion has said that Auburn has done nothing wrong in the recruitment of Can Newton. Nothing’s changed. Again, can’t control everybody’s microphone. Can’t control everybody’s opinion. Don’t try to. But again, I’ll say it as I’ve said it for maybe the fifth time today: I feel really good when my head hits the pillow.”
And here the thought occurred: If there’s something about which Gene Chizik might be an intriguing conversationalist, it would have to be pillows. Listening to him could put anyone to …
Whoops, sorry. Nodded off there. What was I saying? Something about process? Waiter, another pitcher of Red Bull!
By Mark Bradley