As if it wasn’t enough that Auburn is just 3-8 heading into this weekend’s Iron Bowl against No. 2 Alabama, a Yahoo! Sports report released Wednesday documented an ongoing NCAA investigation into the Tigers’ football program.
According to the report, NCAA investigators have combed the program over the past weeks looking for violations involving Auburn coaches, players, recruits and other parties linked to program.
The investigation is particularly looking into two Gene Chizik assistants, wide receivers coach and assistant head coach Trooper Taylor and running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Curtis Luper. Both coaches were recently taken off the recruiting trail, though Chizik declined comment on the matter last month. Taylor was a finalist for the American Football Coaches Association’s national Assistant Coach of the Year this season.
Auburn, the NCAA and other parties linked to the investigation have all declined comment.
“I don’t have time for all of that,” Chizik said back on Oct. 30 concerning a report that he took select assistant coaches off the recruiting trail. “I’ve got one direct focus: that is my team and my players. That has nothing to do with us winning. Whoever said that has nothing to do with anything, so I am not getting into any of that stuff. I’ve got one track, and that is our players and our coaches, and trying to get us to the next win, so, all of that stuff, I have no comment on that.”
The investigation is not believed to be related to the 2010 Auburn allegations concerning Heisman winner and No. 1 NFL Draft pick Cam Newton, which dominated headlines during the school’s national title run. After a brief suspension, Newton was cleared by the NCAA that season without missing a game.
Of course, this all adds to the firestorm surrounding Chizik this season, as the program has completely fallen apart in 2012. The Tigers are winless in SEC play — with their only wins coming against Alabama A&M, New Mexico State and Louisiana-Monroe (in overtime) — and there have been loud grumblings about their head coach’s job security.
Losing offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, the architect of the offensive scheme surrounding Newton, has been a popular topic when discussing this season’s struggles, as Chizik’s career head coaching record is just 8-27 without Malzahn at his side.
But now those might be the least of Chizik’s worries.
Facing Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide is an enormous task for any program, especially a 3-8 squad with the 107th-ranked offense and the cloud of an reported NCAA investigation hanging overhead.