So I hear it on pretty good authority that Bobby Lowder will not be back for another term as Auburn trustee.
This can only be good news for those of you out there who are Auburn fans.
If this op-ed piece from the Opelika-Auburn News is any indication, there is not a lot of love for Lowder these days down at the Loveliest Little Village on the Plains. As a matter of fact, its first two words match the heading of this post: Good riddance.
Even I, a raving Georgia fan, could see that Bobby Lowder was bad for Auburn. I steadfastly refused to take Auburn seriously as a football program until it chose to dissociate itself from Bobby Lowder.
The author of this op-ed piece is willing to acknowledge that Lowder has done good things for Auburn. This may be more than he deserves, in light of the bad.
Conventional wisdom holds that Lowder singlehandedly engineered the hiring of Terry Bowden in 1993, as related in this New York Times piece, only to return him slightly used midway through the 1998 season when Auburn’s fortunes went south that year.
Lowder was also in on a botched attempt to lure Bobby Petrino to Auburn near the end of the 2003 season. Then-Auburn president William Walker and then-athletic director David Housel traveled to Louisville along with two other Auburn trustees for a clandestine interview with then-Louisville coach Bobby Petrino–while coach Tommy Tuberville was still under contract at Auburn. Lowder provided the transportation for this asinine little junket; it was his plane that ferried the Auburn officials to Louisville.
William Walker lost his job over this mess. So did David Housel. Tommy Tuberville came out of all this smelling like a rose.
So did Bobby Lowder.
In 2004, Auburn came dreadfully close to losing its academic accreditation from SACS–because of the way Lowder exercised his influence as a trustee.
The New York Times piece relates how Lowder was in on the firing of then-Auburn president William Muse in 2001, and how his influence led Auburn to completely scuttle its economics program–a program near and dear to the heart of one of his most vocal critics on the board of trustees.
Lowder even stooped so low as to attack the student newspaper at Auburn. When it ran a piece that was critical of him, he had the editor censured and the entire journalism department subjected to what Opelika-Auburn News columnist Jennifer Foster calls a “retaliatory restructuring”.
Clearly it was best to not cross Bobby Lowder, if you knew what was good for you.
Lowder’s style was to wield influence from behind the scenes. According to AJC sports columnist Mark Bradley, his MO was “to be seen but never heard”. According to the New York Times piece, he ran Auburn like it was “his professional football franchise”.
Clearly Auburn will be much better off without Bobby Lowder. Even I, raving Georgia fan that I am, join them in saying “Good riddance.”