During his press conference on Sunday, Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs set the criteria for Auburn's next head coach.
"We will be guided by the benchmarks we expect in the leader of our program," Jacobs said. "Those benchmarks are a track record as a proven winner, a commitment to playing within the rules and student-athlete academic success."
He added that the candidate did not need to have experience as a head coach, but it would be something the search committee would be looking for in its choice. The basic criteria Jacobs mentioned keeps the doors open for a wide variety of candidates.
No matter who becomes the next head football coach at Auburn University, he will be taking on a major job, competing within the best football conference in the country. Jacobs made it clear the task at hand for the next Auburn head coach. "With the commitment we have to athletics, particularly the football program, 3-9 is just unacceptable so in this fierce environment that we are in with this league, this highly competitive environment, you have to win to be able to compete at this level, to be able to stay here and be a coach.
"We are in a position now better than we've ever been in to hire a head coach," Jacobs added. "Everybody wants to win a national championship and it has been proven it can be done here at Auburn."
The good news for the next Auburn coach will be the talent level he inherits compared to the talent level Chizik had when he arrived on the Plains in 2009. The returning scholarship roster Chizik's staff inherited consisted of 33 percent 4-star and 5-star players rated by Scout.com. Auburn's new head coach will have a roster consisting of 54 percent 4-star and 5-star players.
The bad news is the previous coaching staff failed to develop that personnel to its full potential, which means the new staff will need to create a better working environment. This will require a culture of discipline in an attempt to tap into to their talent pool. As important as schemes and play-calling will be the necessity of Auburn building a strong work ethic.
Center Reese Dismukes is one of five returning offensive linemen who started at least three games during the 2012 season.
The new coaching staff will also inherit a more experienced roster compared to the one Chizik had when he arrived in 2009. Auburn had a total of 19 scholarship players returning in 2009 with at least 20 games of experience, including seven with 30 games or more.
Auburn returns 31 players with 20 games of experience in 2013, including 13 with at least 30 games of experience. Possessing more veteran players could help ease the transition to a new coaching staff, but it could also be a challenge for players who have developed poor working habits. Though normal attrition will lighten the roster going into 2013, the Tigers currently have 15 defensive linemen and 15 offensive lineman on scholarship returning in 2013.
Quarterback Jonathan Wallace saw extensive playing time as a true freshman.
The concern for next season will be a lack of depth at the linebacker, wide receiver and running back positions. Auburn must also address the quarterback position where three different players started in 2012. Jonathan Wallace closed out the season as the starter, but the style of offense could make the quarterback race very interesting.
Wallace would likely perform best in a spread style offense, but what if the new offense is a more traditional one. If Auburn is to quickly return to better days, the Tigers will need consistent play in the trenches, something that has been lacking the past two seasons.
During conference play this past season, Auburn averaged only 86.7 yards rushing per game while allowing 222.6 rushing yards on defense. During Auburn's last 16 conference games the Tigers have won the "tackle for loss" battle only one time.
Schedule-wise the Tigers open the 2013 season with two manageable non-conference opponents and Mississippi State at home before making their first road trip to LSU. The schedule consists of seven opponents that finished the 2012 season bowl eligible, but a quick turn-around can be obtained. Despite all their issues on and off the field during 2012, the Tigers dropped three games by seven points or less.
The talent and experience level is present, but the Tigers are in dire need of direction and development to field a polished product. Look for Auburn's search committee to target an experienced and successful head coach with a keen eye on discipline.