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Auburn president: 'Football program will be evaluated' after season

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

With Auburn sitting at an unthinkable 1-6 and on the fast-track to its worst season since 1952, it's hardly a surprise that Tiger fans are up in arms over Gene Chizik and the direction of the program.

What might be a surprise is that the cries have grown so loud that even Auburn University president Jay Gogue has found himself volunteering -- or, arguably, forced into making -- a statement addressing the plight of the team. Direct from the Auburn school website (emphasis added):

"In the past few weeks, many of you have contacted me, and I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to share your thoughts about the football program. I know your concerns are sincere and heartfelt, and I share many of them. As we do every year, the football program will be evaluated in an objective, thorough and professional process.

"For everything there is a time, and now is the time to support. The young men and women -- our students -- who make up Auburn University are grateful for the dedication of their extended Auburn Family. So am I."

The first noteworthy thing about the statement is its existence at all. Since the infamous 2003 "Jetgate" scandal in which then-president William Walker secretly flew to Louisville to offer Bobby Petrino the Auburn head coaching position (and was eventually forced to resign), Auburn's presidents have largely stayed out of the athletic department's affairs and issued few public comments; Gordon Gee or Bernie Machen, Gogue most certainly is not. For him to address the current situation at all speaks clearly to the amount of unrest on the Plains.

Secondly, more than one conspiracy theorist will note that Gogue issues a call for support for the program as a whole, but fails to do the same for Chizik (or embattled athletic director Jay Jacobs) specifically. There's no promise that either man will be retained, no mention of pride in their accomplishments; the only reference to the future of the program at all is that it will be "evaluated."

That of course doesn't mean Chizik (or Jacobs) is automatically on the chopping block if the Tigers continue on course for their likely 3-9 finish. But despite the "as we do every year" disclaimer, Gogue also clearly hasn't ruled out the possibility of firings, either -- and if he's bothering to publicly not rule such a move, Chizik shouldn't feel at all comfortable at the moment.

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