About three quarters of the way through this previous season, it looked like Auburn, despite early losses to Texas A&M football and others, may have the chance to finish out the year very strongly. They had an easy schedule lined up, with games against Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and New Mexico State ahead of the Iron Bowl. I wrote then that the Tigers, unless they majorly messed up, had a chance to coast to 3-1 in that stretch, with an outside shot at 4-0.
Well, they majorly messed up. Even so, they still had a shot at going 3-1... until they majorly messed up again. The Tigers closed out the year with a decisive loss to Maryland in the Music City Bowl to finish at 6-7.
Nevertheless, the Tigers were also poised for a great offseason. They had flipped a five-star receiver from Alabama and from Texas A&M football, and are still trying to bring in another five-star receiver who has now decommitted from the Tide. The thought is now that Freeze, for whom recruiting has always been a strong point, is starting to get his guys in the door to really build up this program.
With that said, though, there are some... strange things going on. First of all, you have the dismissal of OC Phillip Montgomery in favor of Freeze calling the plays—usually a move that occurs when a coach is making a last-ditch effort to keep his job (of course, in Jimbo's case, this last-ditch move occurred in reverse).
This by itself may not be the biggest or most concerning news. The Tiger offense wasn't great last year, and Freeze has successfully called offenses before.
Some of the more concerning things are the seemingly inexplicable departures of a couple of Auburn coaches, both of whom were considered big culture guys on the staff in Cadillac Williams and Zac Etheridge. Both are also plus recruiters. Additionally, DC Ron Roberts left for a job that is a clear step down from being the Auburn DC.
Recall last year when Williams took over as the interim coach for a few games, including the ugly 13-10 win over Texas A&M football. Many fans wanted him to be the choice, and he was extremely popular with the fanbase. When the Tigers ultimately went with Freeze, though, Cadillac stayed on. It's just very odd that he is now departing, and not even doing so for another job immediately. At least with Elijah Robinson, he was leaving for a promotion.
Something about this whole deal is very strange. I would be very uneasy if I were an Auburn fan. The Aggies, of course, only stand to gain from this whole ordeal on the plains, especially when going head to head for the Tigers for a 2024 5-star.