MARK LONGAssociated Press
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jay Jacobs’ first job was at a funeral home owned by his grandparents in Lafayette, Alabama. By age 12, Jacobs was mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, picking weeds and occasionally accompanying ambulance calls. He even helped with funerals.
“The last man to let you down,” jokes Jacobs 50 years later.
After working out nearly every day since that summer in 1972, Jacobs is officially retiring after nearly four decades of college athletics. The 62-year-old, who spent 13 years as Auburn’s athletic director and won the 2010 national championship with coach Gene Chizik and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, will step down as a ‘AD Associate of Florida for External Affairs.
“It’s bittersweet,” Jacobs told The Associated Press. “We have built great relationships over the years. It’s hard to leave, but what I’m about to do will be fun no matter where I am geographically.
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Jacobs has spent the past five years in Gainesville with his wife, Angie. His day-to-day role included overseeing communications, marketing, ticketing, licensing, boosters, and serving as athletic administrator for the Florida football program, which has finished 6-7 each of the past two seasons.
He plans to stay close to college athletics in retirement, perhaps as a consultant or other behind-the-scenes business.
“It sounds horrible to say, but I don’t want any demands,” he said. “I don’t want to have to show up somewhere regularly. I just want to see how it goes for a few months without having to do this.
“It’s going to be an adjustment because I don’t know any other life than this.”
Jacobs recently moved her parents from Tampa to a nursing home in Tallahassee and has two of her three daughters living about 300 miles north of Birmingham, Alabama.
“A few of my dear friends, they’ve already shut it down,” he said. “They go hunting and hanging out with their families. I kind of crave that.
Known to many as “Brother Jay” because he often greets his friends with “Hey, brother” in a sweet Southern sleigh, Jacobs attended Wolfson High School in nearby Jacksonville before enrolling at Auburn. and joining the football team as an offensive lineman.
He earned letters in 1982 and 1983, being part of the Tigers’ first Southeastern Conference championship team in nearly 30 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1985 — after a year-long stint as head coach at Lee-Scott Academy — then joined his alma mater as a graduate assistant.
He served in the strength and conditioning department for three years before slipping into football administration in 1991. He became Auburn’s 14th DA in 2005, and his 13-year run remains the third most long tenure in the school’s history.
Auburn has won 12 national championships in five sports during its watch, none more memorable than beating Oregon 22-19 to end the 2010 football season in Arizona. His notable hires included basketball coach Bruce Pearl and football coaches Chizik and Gus Malzahn, who led the Tigers to the national title game after the 2013 season.
“Winning championships is always fun, but when I think about my career, I think about people and relationships and how people have enriched my life. Just good people everywhere,” he said. declared.