By Jay Coulter
In the celebration of Auburn’s first road win last weekend many of us missed a newsworthy event. Former athletic director and sports information director David Housel missed his first Auburn game in 35 years.
That’s a streak of 412 straight games dating back to a win over Clemson in 1970. It’s certainly not the most of any fan out there. In fact, former assistant athletic director Buddy Davidson attended more than 500 games in a row.
The significance of this event is that it truly marks the end of an era. Now I know most of you have strong feelings for Housel one way or the other. He was certainly a controversial figure during his tenure at Auburn. He made some difficult decisions, ones I’m glad I wasn’t forced to make.
He made some mistakes. None of us will argue that getting on a plane and flying to Louisville was in the best interest of Auburn University or specifically the Tiger football team. But if you know Housel and have ever worked with him then you know there had to be much more to the story.
Housel loves Auburn more than a lot of people love their children. Through his public relations work I would argue that he has brought more positive attention and goodwill to Auburn than most anyone.
For Housel to not be in any official capacity with the university seems strange. It’s like something is missing. It just doesn’t seem right for someone as young and talented as David Housel to not be playing a role with Auburn University.
Should Housel have stepped down as athletic director? Absolutely. The university had no choice. Someone had to be the fall guy and unfortunately it had to be Housel. He was the athletics director. He had to go. But there were also others that needed to go that didn’t.
But with that said, I believe wholeheartedly that Housel was a victim. I don’t want to rehash again those dreadful days. But when you advise your boss not to go and he decides to go anyway then you are put in a bad position.
Do you quit the job you’ve dreamed about your whole life? Do you go to the board of trustees? Oh wait, you can’t do that because they’re in bed with your boss, the president. So what do you do?
It’s a tough call. And Housel made the wrong call. But under the circumstances how many of you would have done the same thing? I probably would have gone. It would have been a poor decision and it would have made me sick to my stomach – much as it did Housel. But outside of resigning and causing tremendous turmoil what other choice did he have? Granted, in hindsight the turmoil became much worse.
I hope that in the coming years Auburn finds more than just a ceremonial place for David Housel. He deserves it and we need him. Being athletic director at Auburn is like shaving with no hands. You are eventually going to cut yourself.
I hope now that some time has passed that Auburn people will focus on the many good things Housel did. And I hope that Auburn’s administration looks at the many talents David Housel has and finds a way to use them. He’s a living historian of all things Auburn. Let’s don’t let him collect dust.
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