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Oct 19, 2017
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  Success of Women's Athletics

A hot topic surrounding Auburn athletics over the past several years has questioned athletic director Jay Jacobs’ abilities to lead the department. With a sluggish football team, firing of basketball and baseball coaches and several lackluster records, complaints are easy to see. But what most fans ignore is the success women’s athletics are having.

The easiest starting point is what Clint Myers has done with the softball team in just two years. In 2015, Myers’ bunch set multiple program records, including winning 56 games, winning an NCAA Regional, winning an NCAAA Super Regional, advancing to the Women’s College World Series and winning two games at the WCWS.

And yet, Myers was such a home run hire that he’s basically continuing what he did previously at Arizona State, where he took the Sun Devils to the WCWS seven times in eight years.

The Tigers this spring are ranked in the top 5 again and could certainly be back in Oklahoma City at year’s end. Auburn fans have also taken notice, and an expanded Jane B. Moore Field stays sold out and is truly one of the most difficult tickets to get in town.

Auburn has also recently excelled in gymnastics under sixth-year coach Jeff Graba. The Tigers added the 2015-16 season to the Auburn Arena bannister by advancing to the Super Six in last year’s NCAA Tournament, a program first, and are currently the top seed in this year’s Ann Arbor regional. Auburn recently finished fourth at the SEC meet and scored a program high for that meet. And, never to be forgotten, the Tigers defeated Alabama after 117 consecutive losses.

The Ann Arbor regional takes place April 2 and the NCAA Nationals are April 15-17.

The women’s basketball team also knows a thing or two about the NCAA Tournament again. Terri Williams-Flournoy’s team did just enough to solidify a spot in the Big Dance and defeated St. Joe’s in the first round before falling to No. 1-seed Baylor in Auburn’s first tournament appearance since 2008-09.

Coach Flo’s run started with a bang. Her first year included 19 wins and a WNIT appearance, making her the first Auburn women’s coach to make the postseason in her first year. The Tigers matched its win total and postseason appearance the following year.

This winter, Flo and Auburn took success a step further, making the NCAA tournament run after being picked to finished 13th in the SEC.

Myers, Graba and Williams-Flournoy mark three of the best hires by Jacobs. Soccer coach Karen Hoppa has been successful recently, but Jacobs inherited the 17-year veteran. Ralph Spry, who is entering his 17th season coaching track and field, has also won for the Tigers in his time. Rick Nold’s volleyball teams have also seen improvement over his five years on the Plains.

Auburn’s big three sports — football, basketball, baseball — reign supreme for good reason, but down years or drama in those sports doesn’t mean the end of the world. It could mean less revenue or the athletic department spending more than it owes, but Auburn fans will always have at least a couple of sports to cheer on winners. Note that equestrian and swimming and diving weren’t even mention. Auburn has won with Jacobs, especially on the women’s side. Yet, complainers will complain and supporters will support. That’ll happen regardless the athletic director.

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