Dec. 30, 2011
Q&A with Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs
Winning and graduating are two of your top goals for Auburn student-athletes. On winning, how is Auburn doing department-wide?
"Starting with this past spring, we're proud of our women's golf team winning the SEC championship. The unprecedented streak of our men's swimming and diving team's 15 consecutive SEC championships is certainly remarkable. This fall, our women's soccer team became the first team ever from the Western Division to win the SEC Soccer Tournament. Having our men's and women's golf team ranked in the top 5 in the nation this fall is indicative of the caliber of those programs. In men's basketball, we're playing better and winning more games.
"As we move into the spring semester with men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball, as well as our defending National Champion equestrian team, there is a lot of excitement for all of our sports athletically."
Can you give an update on how Auburn student-athletes are performing in the classroom?
"We've had four Rhodes Scholar finalists and one winner in the last three years, so we are certainly proud of that. Last spring, Auburn became the only school ever to have the male and female SEC Boyd H. McWhorter winners in the same year. That award goes to the top overall student-athlete. Also, we had a record number of Top Tigers with a 3.0 or better GPA for the last academic year. So our student-athletes are performing very well in the classroom. That showed up in the Academic Progress Rate scores as well with all 21 of our teams exceeding the NCAA benchmark for APR. We are very proud of the success our student-athletes have had in the classroom and in the community as well."
How do you assess the 2011 football season?
"The number of wins certainly is not ultimately where we want it to be, but we are proud of the way these young guys played. There is only one school in the nation that played more freshmen than Auburn. The three teams in the west that beat us are all highly ranked, along with one team that we beat. Certainly it is not where we want to be coming off the magical season of 2010, but we knew it would be a challenge losing that many fourth and fifth year seniors and three outstanding juniors. Having the opportunity to go to a bowl game and get these young guys some more experience is all part ofbuilding the foundation.
How do you feel about the direction of the football program in general?
"I feel great about the direction of the football program. Certainly, Gus Malzahn leaving is going to change things. We appreciate what he and Ted Roof both did for Auburn. Change is inevitable, and sometimes change is good. I feel really good about the direction we are headed in because we are in a position to build on what we've established the last three years. We knew back in 2008 when I interviewed Coach Chizik that 2011 was going to be a challenging year just because of our lack of depth. We are glad to be playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but our goal is to get back to Atlanta and have a chance to win a National Championship."
What kind of progress have you seen so far in the men's basketball program?
"We got off to our best start in a number of years, and we are a better team than we were last year. It's an exciting time for men's basketball. Tony (Barbee) has done a great job of recruiting so it will be fun to watch these guys play. As we move into the SEC schedule in January, we'll have a chance to better compare how much better we actually are, but we are certainly encouraged."