Ask the AD
January 5, 2011
Dear Auburn Family,
Not long after our chartered flight lifted off in Atlanta bound for the Arizona desert, the pilot got permission from Air Traffic Control to make a slight course change. He flew right over Auburn.
Peering out the windows to our left, we could see Jordan-Hare Stadium far below. At that moment, I realized just how far our football program has come under the steady leadership of Coach Gene Chizik.
It took nearly four hours to reach our destination, but the journey to the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game has really been years in the making. Looking down on that empty stadium from the plane, I thought about all the former players and coaches who helped lay the foundation for our present success, from the 1957 National Champions to the 2004 SEC champs and teams in between.
I thought about each of you, the fans and supporters who fill Jordan-Hare Stadium on those special Saturdays in the fall. I thought about Tigers Unlimited members and donors whose generosity and love of Auburn make it possible for us to compete at the highest level, by building world-class facilities and funding the salaries of the best coaching and support staff in college football. I thought about the strong support of President Gogue and the Board of Trustees, who share our vision of becoming the preeminent athletics department in the nation.
Make no mistake about it: We still have work to do. We have unfinished business, and our coaches and players are intently focused on the biggest game that many of us have ever witnessed. We have not yet scaled the summit, and we are far from finished in building the foundation necessary to compete for championships on a regular basis.
As important as Monday night's game is for Auburn, what matters even more is what happens Tuesday morning and beyond. Getting to this game is hard enough. Staying on top is an even greater challenge when you play in the toughest conference in the country.
This team is blessed with a great senior class of outstanding young men and talented football players. They will be hard to replace. To show how far we still have to go, next year's senior class will include eight players. Only a handful of them play on a regular basis. That is why recruiting is so important and continues to be a major focus for Coach Chizik and his staff.
While the team is preparing to play in the National Championship game this week, the work to build a championship foundation in Auburn goes on. Much of the site work is already completed on a $16 million multipurpose indoor practice facility that will be a major boost for Auburn football as well as our other sports. In addition, a master plan for the future of Jordan-Hare Stadium is nearing completion. As we have learned from the past, it is critically important to be proactiveŚnot reactiveŚ in meeting our future facility needs, and we are committed to doing that.
As we flew over Auburn on Monday, we also caught a glimpse of Auburn Arena, the spectacular new home of our men's and women's basketball teams. It, too, was made possible because the Auburn University Administration, Trustees, donors and fans shared a big vision of what we can become in basketball.
It has been a good week for Auburn basketball. Coach Tony Barbee's hard-working team earned its fourth straight victory with an upset of Florida State University. As we said when Coach Barbee was hired, it will take time to build the basketball program into a tournament contender. We will have to be patient. Coach Barbee told us from the beginning that it will be an uphill fight for his young and inexperienced team, but he also said we will all be proud of how hard they fight. And we are.
As the basketball conference season begins when we host LSU on Saturday, I want to encourage those of you at home to come to Auburn Arena and support Coach Barbee and his team.
Our women's basketball team also got off to a great start on Sunday, going on the road to knock off Alabama in its SEC opener. Our women also need and deserve your support throughout the 2011 season, which will end with Auburn hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Auburn Arena.
I think we can all agree that it is great to be an Auburn Tiger. Regardless of the outcome of Monday night's game, we will celebrate this special football team's accomplishments. They have made their mark on Auburn football.
It is up to all of us to help future Auburn teams have a chance to do the same.
For those of you on your way to Arizona, we look forward to seeing you. For those who will be watching at Auburn Arena or in your homes with family and friends, thank you for your support. Each and every one of you has played a part in getting us here. We will need your ongoing support in the days and years ahead as we continue to build and solidify a championship foundation.
God Bless and War Eagle!
Director of Athletics