George Will, my favorite columnist, once opened a column with a discussion of the Latin phrase post hoc ergo propter hoc. His column discussed politics or baseball, so only the discussion, I believe, needs to be referenced.
However, the phrase refers to the fallacy that something which precedes an event is automatically its cause. The common example was the belief held by many ancient societies: roosters cause the sun to rise since they crow before the sun appears. A political equivalent would be recent accomplishments by our previous Presidents. George H.W. Bush is often given credit for the fall of the Soviet Union, as it happened on his watch. The rightful credit goes to Ronald Reagan, who spent the Soviets under the table in the arms race, bringing their economy to a screeching halt. (Instead, Bush ’41 should get credit for making the tough choices that led to the prosperity of the 90s. Instead, President Clinton, bless his heart, should get credit for not mucking it up.)
So what does that have to do with Auburn? Well, if I’m going to draw a specious argument, I might as well get a good frame of reference to start.
For those of you that might not have noticed, the women’s b-ball team is 18-0 and has risen to #6 in the country. Tough tests loom ahead with match-ups against Alabama tomorrow and Tennessee (the ultimate test for any team) on Sunday, but Coach Nell Fortner has the Lady Tigers playing where they should and has returned the program to prominence.
Joe Ciampi was a wonderful coach who brought several titles and tournament appearances to Auburn. His best string though is likely ’87 – ’89, when Auburn was a bridesmaid in the NCAA finals three years in a row to Louisiana Tech, Tennessee, and Stanford.
It was also during those three years that Pat Dye brought home three straight SEC Championships. Yes, I know, only one of them was outright, while the other two were shared. At the same time, it is an era of prominence that Auburn fans remember, particularly the way the ’89 season ended.
And so, as the Auburn women climb in the polls, I take heart that the Auburn football team will also resurrect itself with them. Gene Chizik, despite my earlier reservations, has assembled a crack staff that looks poised to get the job done. Recruiting is already bringing surprises with the top H.S. player in the state of Alabama choosing Auburn and the top wide receiver recruit in the country taking an official visit at Auburn.
Still, the argument that the two programs share some sort of cosmic kismet is ridiculous. However, if the Chizik program was supposedly designed to bring back the glory days of Pat Dye, then it may be that the women’s b-ball team may start to resemble its days from the Dye era, too.