It's not easy being Auburn, but don't tell John Cohen
THAT is how you flip the script, stare down the elephant in the room and turn a negative into a positively memorable introduction to your new high-profile position. THAT is how you win the press conference, and THAT is exactly what Auburn's new athletics director, John Cohen, did Tuesday.
He did it with five simple words repeated six times, punching the first word for emphasis, answering the Why Auburn? question with audacity and authority for those who don't get it or won't admit it.
"THAT," he said, "is Auburn being Auburn."
Cohen didn't just highlight a half-dozen powerful selling points for himself and perhaps for prospective football coaching candidates. He punctuated each attribute - quality of the university, three Heisman winners, game-changing athletes in multiple sports, Hall of Fame coaches, championships and unique traditions - with that new twist on an old insult.
Tired: JABA (Just Auburn being Auburn). Not a compliment.
Wired: ABA (Auburn being Auburn.) An exclamation. Like War Eagle. Or Go Crazy.
That impressive mix of speechwriting and public speaking was authored by Cohen himself. It was a big, fat "Take THAT" to anyone and everyone, outside and inside the family, who's gotten comfortable with focusing on the negative spawned by a string of bad hires as president, AD and head football coach. Two of those three mistakes appear to have been corrected with the additions of Cohen and Dr. Chris Roberts. It is now their high-profile charge to step up to the plate and make it 3 for 3.
Unless Cohen takes Auburn being Auburn to an audacious new level and lures Saban or Smart to the Plains, the next head coach of the Tigers will come with holes in his resume and maybe some baggage that can and will be used against him in the court of public opinion. Lane Kiffin remains the most obvious target, but the Ole Miss coach is kinda busy at the moment buttering up his old boss Saban while scheming to take him down Saturday in Oxford. ...
Read the rest of Kevin's assessment of potential Auburn coaches Kiffin and Hugh Freeze. Only in The Lede.