Lobbying for Gill, alum Barkley says Auburn should have hired black coach
Former Auburn and NBA star Charles Barkley ripped the school he attended on Monday, saying the only reason the Tigers did not hire Buffalo's Turner Gill as the school's new football coach is because Gill is black.
Auburn on Saturday hired Iowa State's Gene Chizik, who had a 5-19 record in two seasons with the Cyclones. Chizik was the defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2004, when the Tigers finished 13-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country.Chizik replaces former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who won 85 games in 10 seasons but was forced to resign earlier this month. "I think race was the No. 1 factor," said Barkley, who played basketball for three seasons at Auburn during the early 1980s. "You can say it's not about race, but you can't compare the two résumés and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst résumé." Gill, a former Nebraska quarterback, took over one of the country's worst programs at Buffalo three years ago. He guided the Bulls to an 8-5 record and their first MAC championship this season, upsetting previously unbeaten Ball State 42-24 in the Dec. 5 conference championship game.
You can say it's not about race, but you can't compare the two résumés and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst résumé.
-- Charles Barkley
The Bulls won 10 games in their first seven seasons at the Division I-A level. Gill guided Buffalo to 13 victories during the past two seasons combined."I'm just very disappointed," Barkley said. "I just thought Turner Gill would be the perfect choice for two reasons: He's a terrific coach and we needed to make a splash. I thought we had to do something spectacular to bring attention to the program. Clearly, if we'd hired a black coach, it would have created a buzz." Barkley, who works as an NBA analyst for Turner Network Television, said he spoke with Gill before Gill interviewed with Auburn officials last week. "We talked about the whole race thing in Alabama," Barkley said. "I told him it's there and it's going to be anywhere you go. I told him you can't not take the job because of racism. He was worried about being nothing more than a token interview. He was concerned about having a white wife. It's just very disappointing to me." Chizik said Monday he understands the expectations as he takes over at Auburn and that there's only one way to quiet fans upset by his hiring. "You gotta win," Chizik said during a news conference. A half-dozen or so times, Chizik confidently said he was the "right guy" for the job. "Nobody's expectation that is a fan of Auburn University is higher than mine," Chizik said. "That sums it up. My expectations are very high. I understand that the people of this place, including myself, they want championships. That's my expectation of myself. That's what I take with me to sleep with every night."
More from ESPN.comAuburn needed to think outside the box in its coaching search. But hiring Gene Chizik, 5-19 in two years at Iowa State, isn't the answer, Mark Schlabach writes. Story
Appearing on the Scott Van Pelt Show, Chizik said he looks forward to the challenge of trying to get Auburn back to being a premier football program.
Gene Chizik faces some serious challenges from a recruiting standpoint, JC Shurburtt writes. Story