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Auburn University on Tuesday officially introduced John Cohen as its new athletics director (AD).
In his introductory press conference, Cohen touted the university, the Auburn Creed and the athletics department staff in place. He also emphasized Auburn's rich sports tradition.
"I've heard and seen the common refrain 'Auburn being Auburn,' and I want to tell you, in my opinion, as somebody who has been on the outside who is now coming in, Auburn being Auburn is a special thing," Cohen declared.
"This is one of the nation's preeminent, comprehensive land grant institutions, a leader in research technology and education, and in my opinion, that is Auburn being Auburn," he continued. "Three Heisman Trophy winners is Auburn being Auburn. Athletes who forever changed the nature of their own sport, not just here, not just in the SEC, but nationally. Like Bo (Jackson). Like the Big Hurt (Frank Thomas). Like Sir Charles (Barkley). Like Rowdy (Gaines), like Ruthie (Bolton), like Suni (Lee). I can name a bunch more. That is Auburn being Auburn. How about Hall of Fame coaches? Shug Jordan, Pat Dye, Joel Eaves, Sonny Smith, Hal Baird, who I got to see the other day, Joe Ciampi, David Marsh, Ralph Spry, Susan Nunnelly, Kim Evans and many, many more. We have future Hall of Fame coaches in this room right now, and I'm thrilled with that. That is Auburn being Auburn. Twenty-two national championships, 100 conference championships - almost 100 conference championships, countless individual national champions. That is Auburn being Auburn. The great traditions. The Tiger Walk, the eagle flight, rolling Toomer's Corner. That is Auburn being Auburn. I believe in Auburn and love it."
Cohen's first big task in his new position will be hiring a football coach. He did not give a timeline on when he would make that hire but did provide some insight into what will be most important in making the decision.
"The football head coaching position at Auburn University is a critical decision, and we take the utmost seriousness," Cohen outlined. "There will not be anything we don't look at. Everything is on the table every day. But I'm not going to go into dates and times and process and when the finish line is going to be. We're going to get there when we get there, and we're going to make the right decision for this great institution."
"It starts with culture. It starts with Xs and Os. And it starts with recruiting. Those three things have to be upfront, but there's a whole lot of other things that have to be answered before you get really deep into it," he added.
The former Mississippi State AD also discussed growing up a fan of Auburn's biggest rival, the University of Alabama.
"I mean, when you talk about the star power that Auburn has always had - even growing up in that town - boy, it was sure fun to watch that and to recognize that," Cohen recalled. "Just really, really cool."
He continued, "Listen, I'm not going to run away from this. I think this is the best rivalry in college athletics - Auburn and Alabama - and I can't wait to compete with that school up there in Tuscaloosa."
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