Intrigue, Conspiracy and a Great Story May Have Gotten Gene Chizik a Job


Provocateur aka Wallyburger
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Nov 17, 2003
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The urban swamp
The Auburn thing has huge legs. Boosters suck.

Had to figure this thing was something like this. It stunk from the beginning. Hell hath no fury like a booster scorned. TT can take a year or two off. Do some TV. Grab the next big $$$$$ SEC job and stick it to Auburn some more. Imagine having to pay a coach while he beats you? Irony rules.

Intrigue, Conspiracy and a Great Story May Have Gotten Gene Chizik a Job

by Larry Burton (Columnist)

December 16, 2008

Get the popcorn, get comfortable, and let me tell you a tale. I can neither verify nor deny the authenticity of this story. However, I can verify that there are many truths in it than can be proved. That being said enjoy.

I got these facts from a buddy of mine who is not in the habit of telling tall tales. I'll just call him "Benny". Here's the tale:

Some Auburn relatives were over this past weekend, some of whom are fairly well connected to the program at Auburn and their boosters.

The night Alabama drilled Auburn 36-0, a prominent Auburn booster (not the usual bank-owning one but one who sells pressure-treated wood and wears a yellow hat) made a phone call. This may have been a $5.1 million phone call.

Since he knows most of the SEC coaches on a first-name basis and shoots ads with many of them, he has their personal private phone numbers. So he calls Houston Nutt over in Mississippi and asks what it might take to have Houston change his address again to Auburn.

Apparently, Auburn has a nasty habit of stealing coaches from Ole Miss, but Nutt tells old Yella Fella that he can't take the hit on the credibility scale right now for that kind of move, but thanks.

What many people may not know or may have forgotten is the infamous "Jet Gate" scandal. That was where Bobby Lowder loaded a jet with his posse that flew to Louisville to offer then Head Coach Bobby Petrino the head coaching job at Auburn.

Trouble was, Auburn had a head coach who was doing a fairly good job and when word leaked out, the fans and much of administration rallied so strongly that Tuberville was bulletproof. He was now able to snub his nose to Lowder, Pat Dye, and the administration—and boosters that wanted him gone.

These were not men who took a snubbing well. They bade their time until they felt the fans would no longer be a factor. Surely Auburn missing a bowl game, being drilled by Alabama, and the whole Tony Franklin fiasco took all the aces out of Tuberville's hand.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Following "Jet Gate", Tommy had a unique non-interference clause put in his last contract. Auburn pledged that neither the school president nor athletics director or anyone acting under their authority "shall discuss or negotiate directly or indirectly Auburn's prospective employment of any other person as Head Football Coach of Auburn" without giving Tuberville prior notice.

In non-lawyerese, it basically means that if Auburn got caught monkeying around with a new coach behind Tommy's back again he gets paid—a lot.

Unfortunately for Auburn, Nutt's agent is Jimmy Sexton and that just happens to be
Tuberville's agent too. Nutt drops this little nugget to Sexton and Tommy walks in the following Monday discussing his intentions to resign and wants his money now that he knows his contract has been breached.

Now Tuberville can get the money AND leave and coach elsewhere, in effect getting double pay for the next three years! A nice retirement package indeed. Plus, he gets to have the last laugh and snub the backstabbers one more time.

So maybe Auburn was right, maybe Tuberville really did resign. Why wouldn't he? Multi-day discussions ensued, and I'm sure there were lawyers involved. I'm sure it was painfully explained that old Yella Fella could and would be legally held to be an "official booster" much to the dismay of Auburn and the bad boy boosters.

In the end, we see Tuberville's official resignation on December 3 and Auburn paying him the buyout anyway because according to Auburn, it "is the right thing to do." Yes, it's the right thing under the contract. Otherwise, who pays buyouts for resignations, right?

Now, guess who Gene Chizik's agent is? Ding Ding Ding! You are right if you guessed Jimmy Sexton. Now, how does Auburn keep "Jet Gate II" from hitting the front of ESPN in an embarrassing manner? The fans would simply go mad.

Hmmm, perhaps by hiring a Sexton client who needs to get out of his personal football coaching hell known as Iowa State? How else is he going to go anywhere with that 5-19 record?

So, Tuberville walks away with $5.1 million and change and the right to sign another big contract with another team, Nutt gets a nice salary bump and an extension when Ole Miss gets wind of their coach being dangled some bait, and Chizik gets a big salary increase and a chance from jump a sinking ship into a head coaching job at a big time SEC school.

And Sexton makes almost a million dollars in new commissions off the three new deals. This seems to explain the inexplicable way in which this all went down.

Will we ever know? Not until Jimmy Sexton writes his tell all book, "Tales of the Super Sports Agent." But it's the best version I've heard so far.

Part two of this story at
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