Auburn Fundraiser: Football Like “NFL Franchise”

Sunday Kevin Scarbinsky of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS profiled Tim Jackson, “the No. 2 man in the Auburn athletics department behind AD Jay Jacobs.

Tim Jackson General Manager of Auburn Football

Scarbinsky noted Jackson’s considerable influence on the football program:

Jackson said director of football relations Wayne Bolt jokingly called him “Steinbrenner,” a reference to the late owner of the New York Yankees, who was hands-on with his team to the point of suffocation at times.

Jackson is there at every Auburn football practice and every team meeting, often in a suit because he also attends senior staff meetings, but he’s more like Auburn’s general manager. That’s become his nickname among players and coaches alike: GM.

If you aren’t sure what “GM” stands for, Jackson explained the nickname to Scarbinsky:

In a rare interview in his office Thursday, Jackson said the leadership of Auburn football breaks down like that of an NFL franchise. “Jay Jacobs is the owner. Gene’s the head coach. I’m the general manager.”

Chizik said their management structure “is probably unique in college football. This may not work for everybody else. It works for us. Everybody is on the same page.”

It works because Chizik and Jackson have a unique bond and level of trust for a coach and administrator, especially at Auburn, where the last two head coaches, Terry Bowden and Tommy Tuberville, seemed at constant odds with “the suits.”

In the NFL, a team’s general manager is usually responsible for overseeing the football operation, which includes deciding the level of compensation afforded to players and coaches.

In his profile of Jackson, Scarbinsky reported, “Jacobs gave Jackson administrative oversight of the football program. Chizik didn’t just accept Jackson’s role. He embraced it and expanded it.


“Jackson’s anonymity started to melt when he became Newton’s handler after the quarterback’s breakout performances against South Carolina and Kentucky. Jackson walked him to and from class, shielding him from autograph hunters, and made sure he adhered to his football and non-football schedules.

“I probably did become a bodyguard,” Jackson said. “Cam needed somebody to be the bad guy, somebody to say no. That’s not his personality.”

While Scarbinsky focused his piece on Jackson’s role as “general manager” of the Auburn football team, Jackson’s primary job goes almost completely unmentioned in the profile.

Tigers Unlimited Foundation

(Current Auburn AD Jacobs ran Tigers Unlimited before taking over athletic dept.)

Jackson is the executive director of the private fundraising arm for Auburn Athletics. Called “Tigers Unlimited,” Jackson controls the purse strings of the multi-million organization, which funds much of the operation of the Auburn Athletic Department - football included.

Before Jackson took over, current AD Jacobs was entrusted with the same role.

When taking that into account, is it unreasonable to think that comparing Jackson’s role with the Auburn football program to that of a NFL “general manager” - and Jacobs as an NFL “owner” - is wildly inappropriate?

Especially considering the events of the past four months?

Those events, as it pertains to Auburn’s Tigers Unlimited, also include the indictment of lobbyist Robert Geddie for political corruption last October. Geddie, who along with 10 others was arrested on Oct. 4, 2010, and charged with multiple, serious crimes after a lengthy FBI investigation which included wiretaps, was paid directly by Tigers Unlimited for political lobbying on Auburn’s behalf.

Geddie was reportedly paid up to $1 million by Tigers Unlimited over the years, something that, perhaps not surprisingly, isn’t listed in the “what are you doing with the money?” area of the Tigers Unlimited official website.

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