I don't know who to blame for Coach Willis leaving for the enemy. I have given Jay Jacobs a pass because Coach Chizik was putting together a great staff and maybe I was wrong about JJ. Maybe he did know what he was doing. But maybe he didn't or did Chizik not really want a Tuberville holdover but felt he had to retain him because he was an Auburn player or because of his contacts in Mobile. We'll probably never know. I do have faith that Chizik will hire a good coach in his place but this still stings.
I can't believe Willis could ever leave AU for SPUAT. But why did he? Why wasn't he given a raise comparable to the other new assistants before it got to this point? Supposedly Auburn told him they would match any other offer and would take care of him eventually but Willis never went back to AU after SPUAT offered. It shouldn't have taken JJ weeks to give Willis a bump to $400K or whatever the number is. And don't give me this "Willis gets the title of Associate Head Coach". Whatever, that title is meaningless. I blame him for letting it get to this point but I blame Willis for not showing a little loyalty to his school and to the players he was recruiting. But why should he show loyalty? He was told he would be retained, he was fired, did not have a job for days, rehired at his same salary and then saw newcomers to AU making twice as much as him. See this quote from Terrance Coleman...
"He told me a story," Coleman says. "He told me that he was going to be at Auburn when I came there. He was sitting in my living room two nights ago and told me that. He also told me some not so nice things about Alabama so I am not happy about this. I didn't know he was like that."
Terrance, coaches will tell you anything to get you to come to your school. Their only loyalty is to the paycheck. I believe Pat Dye once said something to that effect. And I know I've heard the Sabear say that if it was up to him, he'd take less money if there weren't any fans in the stands and it was just football. Remember that, Bammers, next time he says "RTR" or that he loves Alabama. Know that he doesn't and never will, it's just what he has to say to keep the cash rolling. Tommy Tuberville, Gene Chizik, Pete Carroll, Nick Saban, Tracy Rocker, James Willis, all of them love the paycheck and not the school. And if Notre Dame comes at Saban with more money that SPUAT can't match, he'll leave in a heartbeat. And if SPUAT matches it he'll stay. Not because the Capstone was tugging at his heartstrings or Mama called or whatever, only because it was best for his career. And if Texas or whomever comes at Chizik in three years with a busload of cash, Chizik will leave his "dream job" faster than you can say "5-19".
But what makes me sick is I think it's written in UAT contracts to use the word tradition because Willis has already used it. Was it a shot at Auburn or just what he's supposed to say? I'm going with the latter.
This had to be a hard decision for Willis. It comes at a bad time for Auburn two weeks before signing day. According to Terrance Coleman, Willis was bad-mouthing SPUAT no more than two days ago all the while knowing he was sleeping with the enemy. This is another reason I never blame a player for going pro early, get money, get paid while you can. This is further proof that recruits need to look at the school and not the coaches because they will leave your ass in a heartbeat while you are stuck at a school that maybe you didn't want to go to but you bought into whatever the coaches were saying they could do for you when really, they want you for what you can do for them.
Auburn will survive this. They will find a good coach to replace Willis and move on. They will get recruits from Mobile in the future. This does not guarantee SPUAT a MNC or Auburn last place in the SEC West next year. It's a blip in the overall big picture of the schools but it does guarantee that loyalty in college athletics is officially dead and it is a professional league without professional players.