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Jack Bicknell Jr. a "Perfect Fit"


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Per al.com:

Jack Bicknell Jr. had no inside connection to Auburn or its football staff. His father, former Boston College head coach Jack Bicknell, had no connection, nor did his brother Bob Bicknell, the Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver coach. So he had no reason to expect a call and a job offer after Auburn’s offensive line coach J.B. Grimes stepped down.

But when that call came, he didn’t have to think long about his answer.

“Oh my god, he would have run there,” his father said. “He has great respect for the program. Everybody in the country does. It's a well-known, big-time program. But he looks forward to that challenge.”

It’s a great time for Bicknell Jr. to join Auburn. The Tigers graduated all but one of their offensive starters, which means he’ll be able to “start from scratch.” That’s something he’s really excited about, Bob Bicknell said, especially since he knows he’s going to have talent to work with.

With Auburn’s recent hire of a new offensive coordinator, Bicknell Jr. will really get a fresh start. The offensive coordinator generally plays a big role in hiring an offensive line coach. Like the rest of the staff, Chad Morris’s connection to Bicknell Jr. only extends to playing against his offensive line at Ole Miss, so the hire shows he already has a level of respect for him. Bob Bicknell thinks the two of them will be a good match.

Bicknell Jr. has definitely been impressed by head coach Gus Malzahn, his father said. He seems like a guy people want to work with. The fact that Malzahn wants to work with not one but two former head coaches and both of those coaches want to work for him as assistants shows the type of program Auburn is.

“I’m fired up to be joining a tradition-rich program like Auburn,” Bicknell said in a press release after he was hired. “Auburn has always been known as a blue-collar, hard-working team that has achieved a tremendous amount of success … I am very appreciative of Coach Malzahn for this opportunity. He and Coach Morris are very well-respected offensive minds in the game of football and I can’t wait to work with them and the rest of the Auburn staff.”

But Bicknell Jr. also has a lot to bring Auburn, his father said, although he might be a little biased since “of course he’s my kid. I think he’s a special kid.”

The first and most important thing Bicknell Jr. brings as a coach is loyalty. It’s a rare commodity in today’s sports, Bicknell Sr. said, but Bicknell Jr. has it in spades. It’s one of the things that has inspired Bob Bicknell the most.

As the baby brother who was seven years younger, Bob Bicknell said he was the kid trailing along behind on his bike. Bob Bicknell said he’s always looked up to Bicknell Jr. He followed him to Boston College as a player, and he followed him into coaching. When watching his big brother, he noticed how he was willing to whatever he had to do to help his players, which made them play even harder for him. Bob Bicknell has always made sure to try to approach all his jobs and relationships with that same loyalty.

Players also play hard for Bicknell Jr. because they respect his toughness, Bicknell Sr. said. Since his own playing days, Bicknell Jr. has always been tough, and it helped him when he went to play for his father at Boston College.

Coming out of high school, Bicknell Jr. had several scholarship offers. Bicknell Sr. tried to stay out of the way because he wanted his son to make his own decision. But then he surprised him, asking “Dad, well don’t you want me?” Bicknell Sr. did. He really did. So Bicknell Jr. became his center. As the head coach, Bicknell Sr. had little to do with the day-to-day coaching of Bicknell Jr. But with Bicknell Jr.’s hard work and toughness, there was never the feeling of him being “the coach’s kid.”

Auburn’s line will be expected to play as tough as Bicknell Jr. did. The players will be coached hard, Bicknell Sr. said, but they’ll enjoy it.

The most obvious advantage Bicknell Jr. brings to the program is his resume, something that will also attract players, Bob Bicknell said. He has the experience of being a student-athlete, which they can relate to. He has experience working with other college athletes as a line coach and a head coach. He also has experience coaching the professionals, who they all want to be.

“Jack has a wealth of coaching experience and success in all levels of football, including the last three years in the SEC,” Malzahn said in a press release after Bicknell Jr. was hired. “He has been a part of a Super Bowl championship team and been a head coach collegiately. Jack’s diverse and extensive resume will be valuable in developing our offensive line unit. We’re very excited to have Jack join our staff here at Auburn.”

Bicknell started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Boston College when he got hurt his senior season. He then moved to New Hampshire where he coached the defensive line. After making the move to the offensive line, Bicknell Jr. never went back. He coached the offensive line at Louisiana Tech before moving up to head coach. For a brief year, Bicknell Jr. went back to Boston College to coach the line he once played on, and then he moved up to the National Football League.

While in the NFL, Bicknell Jr. spent time with the New York Giants, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins. He was with the professionals for six years.

In 2017, Bicknell Jr. returned to the college level when he took a job at Ole Miss. While he enjoyed his time in the NFL, Bicknell Jr. is a college coach at heart.

“I would say, just watching him being in the college game, being able to help kids at that age, at that level, has always been kind of what he was,” Bob Bicknell said.

His father, now retired, was the same way. Bicknell Sr. coached high school, college and NFL Europa teams. While he was at Boston College, he coached Heisman winner Doug Flutie. His son was the center on Flutie’s famous Hail Mary pass to beat Miami. Bicknell Sr. also got the chance to encounter Auburn when he coached against Pat Dye in the 1982 Tangerine Bowl, which he lost. Bicknell Sr. was impressed with Dye, who he said is “not a phony.”

Now that his son is an Auburn Tiger, Bicknell Sr. is excited to go down and visit. He’ll escape the New Hampshire snow, check out the country side and try to get his golf game back up because Bob Bicknell almost always wins.

However, it’s still to be determined if he’s excited enough to watch a game. Bicknell Sr. has found watching games where his sons are the coaches is more stressful than if they’re the players.

“I'm too nervous,” Bicknell Sr. said. “I know too much about what's going on and I can tell when they're struggling and when they're not… sometimes I go to my barn and read a book and just don't deal with it. Other times, I wait for the fourth quarter when I think I know what's going to happen.”

Bob Bicknell doesn’t have the same problem. He and his wife watch his brother’s games, and if they’re not televised, they listen to them on the computer. But whether they’re actively watching the games or not, Bicknell Jr.’s family members are excited to see what he can do at Auburn. To them, it seems like a perfect fit.

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On 2/25/2020 at 2:53 PM, bigbird said:

I'm ready to see some attitude from our OL again. It's been way too long since I've seen any.

Wish I could put about 10 likes. I want a mean nasty O-line that hates losing they set the standard for the whole team.

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15 minutes ago, AuburnNTexas said:

Wish I could put about 10 likes. I want a mean nasty O-line that hates losing they set the standard for the whole team.

Absolutely! I want them to be the tone setters. I want to see DL on skates and finished off 10+ yards down the field.  I want them to act like they're the biggest swingers on the field that are gonna take their mirror's girlfriends, sisters, and mom's home after the game and there's not a dang thing that's gonna stop them. I need them to be the opponent's nightmares they tell their grandkids about. I want their blocking to become an inevitability.

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great article. I hope our OL will set the tone for the offense in 2020.  I know we need someone to coach up the guys who will comprise out OL for 2020 and beyond.

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On 2/25/2020 at 3:53 PM, bigbird said:

I'm ready to see some attitude from our OL again. It's been way too long since I've seen any.

 

16 hours ago, AuburnNTexas said:

Wish I could put about 10 likes. I want a mean nasty O-line that hates losing they set the standard for the whole team.

I still say that, after Marshall, Reese Dismukes is the player we've missed most from that 2013-14 group.

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2 hours ago, ToomersStreet said:

Am I the only one that is more excited  about the Jack Bicknell Jr hire more than the Chad Morris hire?

I feel like you should be, but I know you aren't 

My reasoning being, if I had to see that antiquated version of this scheme Gus ran for one more season, I would've been disgusted (more)

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On 2/25/2020 at 2:53 PM, bigbird said:

I'm ready to see some attitude from our OL again. It's been way too long since I've seen any.

Gus's biggest issue the past few seasons has been OL. Even in 2017, our OL wasn't that reliable. They got dominated by UCF. Kerryon Johnson made them look better than they actually were. I mean, this past season, against Arkansas, we run power with Gatewood twice in a row on 3rd and 4th short. Got stuffed twice. And that was against... Arkansas.

If Gus can get an elite OL again, I think people would be surprised by how easy calling plays will become for him again. Think how hard it is to call the right play when your OL consistently doesn't block s***. Every play in football (more or less) requires good blocking from the OL. Run, pass, or screen. Which is of course obvious, but I've seen a lot of fan cry about play calling on plays where there was a DT in the backfield in the first second. You just can't succeed like that.

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On 2/29/2020 at 12:36 PM, copper4eva said:

Gus's biggest issue the past few seasons has been OL. Even in 2017, our OL wasn't that reliable. They got dominated by UCF. Kerryon Johnson made them look better than they actually were. I mean, this past season, against Arkansas, we run power with Gatewood twice in a row on 3rd and 4th short. Got stuffed twice. And that was against... Arkansas.

If Gus can get an elite OL again, I think people would be surprised by how easy calling plays will become for him again. Think how hard it is to call the right play when your OL consistently doesn't block s***. Every play in football (more or less) requires good blocking from the OL. Run, pass, or screen. Which is of course obvious, but I've seen a lot of fan cry about play calling on plays where there was a DT in the backfield in the first second. You just can't succeed like that.

Reality is this.  It does not matter if Jack Bicknell ens up being the best o-lne coach in college  football and a phenomenal recruiter.  Gus has severely neglected o-line recruiting for years.   Gus tried to start correcting this with the 2020 recruiting class with five high school and three JUCO  commitments.  However, only three high school offensive linemen committed and two JUCO commits.   Those three high school players are not going to be ready to contribute, theoretically until next year.   Additionally they were recruited by the same guy that recruited last seasons starters as well.  I fear Bo Nix's  time at Auburn will be wasted due to the fact that Malzahn failed at maintaining his offensive line and coach Bicknell will probably be spending the next four years(Assuming Gus will still be here) rebuilding the Auburn offensive line.

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1 hour ago, ToomersStreet said:

Reality is this.  It does not matter if Jack Bicknell ens up being the best o-lne coach in college  football and a phenomenal recruiter.  Gus has severely neglected o-line recruiting for years.   Gus tried to start correcting this with the 2020 recruiting class with five high school and three JUCO  commitments.  However, only three high school offensive linemen committed and two JUCO commits.   Those three high school players are not going to be ready to contribute, theoretically until next year.   Additionally they were recruited by the same guy that recruited last seasons starters as well.  I fear Bo Nix's  time at Auburn will be wasted due to the fact that Malzahn failed at maintaining his offensive line and coach Bicknell will probably be spending the next four years(Assuming Gus will still be here) rebuilding the Auburn offensive line.

I don't think our OL is in such a s***ty situation that it'll take 4 years to rebuild, assuming Bicknell and Gus are around still for that long.

Gus actually tried to have a strong OL class in 2019, but they just bombed at closing all the major recruits, due to Grimes being such a bad recruiter.

Don't really understand Gus's lack of taking OL serious. Herb Hand was possibly the worst hire he's made. Almost every player Hand recruited ended up contributing very little, or none at all. And he was a horrible coach.

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14 hours ago, ToomersStreet said:

Reality is this.  It does not matter if Jack Bicknell ens up being the best o-lne coach in college  football and a phenomenal recruiter.  Gus has severely neglected o-line recruiting for years.   Gus tried to start correcting this with the 2020 recruiting class with five high school and three JUCO  commitments.  However, only three high school offensive linemen committed and two JUCO commits.   Those three high school players are not going to be ready to contribute, theoretically until next year.   Additionally they were recruited by the same guy that recruited last seasons starters as well.  I fear Bo Nix's  time at Auburn will be wasted due to the fact that Malzahn failed at maintaining his offensive line and coach Bicknell will probably be spending the next four years(Assuming Gus will still be here) rebuilding the Auburn offensive line.

On the bright side, if two of the three JUCO's win the starting job we have them for 2-3 years.  This means the other three positions are coming from the back-ups of 2019.  Most likely we see Brahms, Troxell, and Hamm.  By the time we see new faces after this line-up it will be two years down the road where we will have more OL being developed by Bicknell, Jr.  From everything I have read, this year's OL will be better than last year's OL.

Nix has already been through the worst of it I believe, so any better protection is icing on the cake.  Better protection leads to less throws on the run or rushed throws.  Less rushed throws means better footwork, which was his issue.  Better footwork leads to better throws.

There is some sunshine for your reality!  :jossun:

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