- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
When news broke that Auburn had fired head coach Gene Chizik on Sunday, the focus turned to the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, ranked No. 7 overall by ESPN. Could they keep the current commitments, in particular ESPN 150 defensive lineman Dee Liner (Muscle Shoals, Ala./Muscle Shoals), AU’s top recruit?
For now, Liner remains committed to Auburn. He is going to wait until after his senior season is over before addressing his situation.
“We sat down today, and we’re at the same thing,” Muscle Shoals coach Scott Basden said. “It’s not any different. We’re not going to talk about it until after our season is over with, and that’s the way it’s going to be. He’s not going to deal with it, and we’re not even going to talk about it.”
On Friday, Muscle Shoals defeated Hartselle 49-21 to advance to the AHSAA Class 5A semifinals. Liner, who’s kept his focus on football, played another solid game for the Titans.
“He’s just been doing well all year, getting better every week,” Basden said. “In the bigger games, he’s done his job. [Recruiting] has not been a distraction because we don’t discuss it and don’t talk about it. We’re focused on trying to win a state championship, and that’s all we talk about.”
Still, even though he won’t discuss it, Liner had already been looking around before Chizik’s departure. The in-state star visited Alabama on Saturday for the Iron Bowl. It was his third trip to Tuscaloosa in the last two months.
After the Crimson Tide’s 49-0 drubbing of Auburn, it’s clear the two programs are currently headed in opposite directions.
“Obviously, you’ve got one without a coach and with a coach, so that’s all I know about the situation,” Basden said. “I hadn’t thought one thing about either program.”
For now, both Basden and Liner are focused on the playoffs. Muscle Shoals will play at McAdory this Friday in a battle of undefeated teams. The winner earns a trip to the state title game, which happens to be played at Auburn this year.