Forget Auburn football the sport - think Auburn football the business. As fans, we judge the team and the coach on Wins and Losses and how the team played (play calling by the coach included) in those losses. Thus much frustration with those of us who see the potential of this team that is not achieving that potential - and in my opinion that is based on the Coach (i believe the players are doing all they can).
But Gus is hired by the PTB and I do not know to what "standards" was set in his contract or on his performance appraisal in relation to him being kept or let go. Perhaps his criteria falls more on a business (not sport) aspect and could have the following elements on how he is judged by the PTB:
1) (Sport) Record of 8-4 is considered meets expectations, anything better than that, exceeds expectations and winning SEC West/SEC is Exemplary.
2) (Business) Ticket sales - huge driver of income, so as long as the program is making money, that is a good thing: Season tickets are sell out - meets expectations; SEC games are sell-outs (does matter how many actually attend as long as the ticket sold) exceeds expectations; all games are sell outs is Exemplary
3) (Business) Post season play - helps with brand identity, helps with recruiting, helps with program income: make a bowl game - meets expectations; New Years eve or New Years day bowl game exceeds expectations; playoff system is exemplary
4) (Reputation) NCAA violations - no major violations meets expectations; no minor violations exceeds expectations; no violations or recruitment rumors is exemplary
5) (Reputation) Graduation rates: meet NCAA standards meets expectations; exceeds etc...
These could go on and have several other items like support by the team, support by the coaches, involvement with alumni/boosters. My point is may be being judged on many items not related to X's and O's or W's and L's. I could easily see that PTB are willing to accept a good program on the field to have a clean program off the field and be a strong University more than just a football school. (personal opinion is that was what Leath was like and why he gave the contract he did, a bit of success is okay and maintain a clean, good football program was fine with him as he wanted a stronger academic university. Probably why Gus will be here until a new President is in place to put his emphasis on the Athletic Department.)