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Auburn football looks desperate in search for coach – AL.com

The number of people who have reportedly removed their names from the search for Auburn’s next football coach now exceeds the CDC guidelines for indoor gatherings.

And also the population of Remlap, Alabama.

The down-home tomfoolery of Auburn football’s coaching search over the last week reads like some backwards Faulkner-esque word soup with a side of blackberry moonshine they cut with pine sap and opossum tears back behind the family sawmill. Pretty normal for Auburn football, in other words.

People, just let Allen Greene do his job. Why does this have to be so hard?

Greene is Auburn’s athletics director, and I feel bad for him. Not only is he having to deal with the rich boy hunting-club drama of a messy Auburn football coaching search, but his alma mater, Notre Dame, is about to amuse the Alabama football Crimson Tide for a couple quarters in the College Football Playoff semifinals before reminding everyone what a foul joke college football’s postseason has become under the current system.

For people fascinated with the specific and harebrained Lee County dysfunction that is Auburn football booster and board of trustees shenanigans, these last few days have been entertaining in a way that reality TV gravitates to Southern culture on the skids. It’s palace intrigue in a barn decorated with so many Christmas lights it can be seen from the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere.

For everyone else, this is really painful and we just want the family bickering it to end as soon as possible.

Please, just make it stop. It’s scaring the children.

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Is it time for the governor to intervene, or is she just helplessly shaking her head and rolling her eyes along with the rest of us? Theoretically, under the state law of Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey is the president of the Auburn University Board of Trustees. She’s also an Auburn grad.

Here’s the deal with Auburn, though. When it comes to football, the people who are supposed to be in charge are obviously not in charge. Like in politics, the guys writing the checks are calling the shots. That’s not how you win football games, however, and that’s absolutely not how you hire a coach if you want him to have any chance of being successful.

The good news is this. At this point, it’s incorrect to even suggest that Auburn’s coaching search is a failed disaster because none of this is going to matter if the search committee can, in the end, get it right. They’re making it so difficult on themselves, though.

Nine days after firing Gus Malzahn, Auburn University is a running joke around the country, and the football search appears to be at that place where it absolutely, under any circumstance, couldn’t go: the quagmire of desperation.

Desperate people do irrational things like give Malzahn a preposterous buyout, or, worse, fire Malzahn only to offer someone like Lane Kiffin an equally absurd contract.

Everyone reportedly linked to the Auburn coaching search has used that news for some kind of personal gain whether it be a raise in pay or just a little name recognition. Don’t believe everything you’ve read or heard, though. People don’t turn down a gig in the SEC to stay in the Sun Belt or Conference USA. We’re talking about generational wealth here.

And I don’t mean that as a slight. Huge fan of the “Fun Belt” and “C-UAB.”

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Auburn’s silly dance has been noisy and all over the internet, but this exercise hasn’t been completely useless. An argument can be made that it has even achieved some small level of accidental success.

The revolt by fans over interim coach Kevin Steele possibly being the lead candidate shouldn’t be ignored by the administration even if Steele ends up remaining at Auburn as a coordinator or head coach. Things need to change before Auburn can make the competitive jump from good to great.

Maybe it needed to happen this way so Auburn could come to terms with how it got here in the first place. How can anyone expect the Tigers to own their rivalries against Alabama and Georgia if it can’t even run a proper coaching search?

The best owners in professional sports write the checks and get out of the way. They know to do this because they’re actually trying to run successful businesses that need to make money to pay players. The Holt family doesn’t tell Gregg Popovich how to run the San Antonio Spurs. Clark Hunt isn’t dictating to Andy Reid who to hire as his defensive line coach.

When Alabama hired Nick Saban, it did so after Rich Rodriguez turned down the job. It was embarrassing for an uncomfortable amount of time (almost a month). The boosters and trustees at Alabama then understood when they hired Saban away from the Dolphins that no one was going to tell him what to do because he would just leave.

Now Saban runs Alabama better than any NFL franchise, and he signs about five or six future first-round draft picks every year. Auburn football is currently being run like a play thing for wealthy donors who apparently don’t care how much money they light on fire as long as the glow warms their egos.

It’s that simple. This is not complicated.

Auburn has the potential to be a perennial Top 5 college football program in the country with the right coach, but its boosters (the de facto owners of college teams) are holding it back. Write the checks and get the heck out of the way, boys, or just wave to Texas A&M as it passes by on the way up the SEC West pecking order.

The right coach can win and win big at Auburn. Please, let Greene and the search committee do the job.

So far, this has not been a coaching search so much as it has been an indictment and exposé on Auburn’s backwards ways. Ask yourself this: Will it matter who’s hired at all if the people who always handcuffed and undercut Malzahn continue loving this thing to death?

The cycle of dysfunction has to end for Auburn football to be something more than just a curious little Southern oddity on the championship drive to Atlanta.

Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group. He’s on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr.

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