Auburn The Right Place For Trooper

Assistant coach Trooper Taylor talks about his respect for Gene Chizik and his thoughts Auburn.

Auburn, Ala.--When Gene Chizik was hired as Auburn's head football coach in December, he began to put together a staff to help finish off what had become a turbulent recruiting season for Auburn. When the dust had settled the Tigers were ranked 15th in Scout.com rankings and much of the reason for that was a group of assistant coaches that included Trooper Taylor.

Coming over from Oklahoma State with Curtis Luper, Taylor was an assistant at both Tennessee, Tulane and Baylor before coaching in the Big 12. He says for him the pressure of the last month and the results were part of the job as a coach on this level.

"It was fun," Taylor said. "It was a challenge, but you enjoy that because I think a lot of people in this profession work better under pressure. It's always a constant pressure, but the kind of pressure of two weeks and trying to build off relationships and get them to come here was different. Auburn is not a hard place to sell. If you got them on campus you had a chance. I think that made all the difference in the world."

Saying that the coaching staff is still in the process of evaluating the team on campus as well as watching film and working hard on the 2010 class, Taylor says that he hasn't had the chance to get to know a lot about the ins and outs of Auburn football. Still, he says what he's learned and experienced so far makes him glad to be a Tiger.

"I'm really impressed," Taylor said. "There is a passion and I really miss that. When I left Tennessee and went to Oklahoma State, not that the fans aren't as rabid, but it's just a way of life in the South about football. I think the fans there were really committed and the walk is the game, but I've never gotten as many e-mails and things I did coming here wishing me well.

"I found out very quick that War Eagle is a battle cry and we're the Tigers...walking through the airport I was getting it. I don't care what town I was at or any city I visited there were Auburn backers coming out of the blue with War Eagle. Sometimes it will throw you off because I wasn't used to getting it, but you enjoy that part of it."

Taylor is part of a staff that comes in hungry to get the job done. Taylor says that hunger is what drove him to come to Auburn, but the main reason he took the job is because of his beliefs on the kind of man and coach that the Tigers have in Chizik.

"The one thing that I know that Auburn has that no other school has is Gene Chizik," Taylor says. "I can promise you that. I'll stack him up against anybody in America. I feel good about what I'm selling because he's not a guy that will tell you just what you want to hear.

"I was raised with the principle say what you mean and mean what you say. That guy has that. Everybody doesn't have that. Some people will smile in your face, but they're not your friend. Gene is true. He's genuine.

"A lot of places that were offering me jobs if you brought up the word family they wanted to bring up money," he added. "I'm telling you guys, money is a part of it because I want to take care of my family, but it does me no good if I don't get to see them. Those things were important to me. Allowing my players to come to my house and be a part of my family, that's important, too. Coach Chizik is going to allow us to do that. He's already given us that right. That's important."

While Taylor and Chizik had crossed paths before at Baylor for a job opening there, he notes that the final nail in the coffin for him to make the move to Auburn was the strong support and input from Luper about Chizik.

"When he called I already had a couple of other offers on the table," Taylor said. "Curtis is the one that asked me to come and sit down and visit with him because he knew the things I stood for from being on the same staff with him. I'm not going to lower my standards, my morals, or my values. When I lay down at night I'm going to know I did it right. Nobody is going to be pulling up 10 years from now saying he did steroids or 20 years from now saying he cheated on this kid or that kid because I'm not going to let that happen.

"Then the family side of it. You're going to hear me beat that horse to death, but I grew up in a family of 16. I was 10 in a family of eight boys and eight girls. I don't take that family stuff lightly. He mentioned those things and then when I got a chance to meet with the athletic director (Jay Jacobs), those were the first things out of his mouth."

With everything leaning towards Auburn while trying to make his decision on which job to take, Taylor says there was one person that tilted things and made it a no-brainer in the end. It wasn't Chizik, Luper, or even Jacobs. It was someone that rarely makes a difference, but for Taylor it did.

"I think the winning edge for me, it's kind of like recruiting, when you go on campus everybody is trying to show you the great things and shine your shoes," Taylor said. "You can coach people up to say the right things, but as Gene was showing me around the athletic facility there was a cleaning lady that came out of the room upstairs and came right up to him and hugged him. She told him that she hadn't seen him in four or five years and asked about both his twins and his little boy and named Jonna. To me that told me something.

"He could have coached Jay up on what to say. He could have coached Coach (Joe) Whitt on what to say, but for that cleaning lady to take her time out to say hello and hug his neck and know his family, I knew he treated her right when he was here. If you'll treat your cleaning lady right then I knew the rest of us had a chance. A lot of people don't care about that. That just sent a message to me. On the way to the airport I texted my wife. She said what do you think? I said ‘the cleaning lady made the difference'."


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories