UPDATE: Gus wins.
Auburn has unfairly earned the reputation as a school with a quick trigger finger on firing coaches. Only one head coach hasn't been on the Plains for less than the terms of his first contract, and that was Gene Chizik. Auburn has very fairly earned the reputation of a school where the "powers that be" love to meddle, though. And so we find ourselves here, tonight.
Perhaps you've read the report tonight from James Crepea. Gus Malzahn had his list of candidates for offensive coordinator. That list was received unfavorably as having too little experience or coaches too close to Gus and his offensive philosophies and system. He was provided another list with more experienced coaches by the AD. And so we find ourselves ten days on from Rhett Lashlee's departure and beginning the biggest recruiting weekend before signing day without an offensive coordinator.
I try not to curse in my articles too much, but there's an Army saying that I just have to use, here. What The Fuck, Over?
Are you kidding me? Auburn was liable to have to pony up a large amount of money for Chip Lindsey. I get that. But have you seen the buyout Mazzone had? I believe it was $1.2 million. What are the chances that Mazzone wouldn't fit in with the staff? What if he and Gus clashed and there was internal turmoil? You may have to fire the whole staff. You might have had to fire the staff anyway if Lindsey was hired, so you're out almost the same amount of money, anyway.
I get the argument that Gus needs to bring someone in to help with new concepts in the passing game. I'm sure Gus gets that, too. Why not let the head coach - the offensive guru we hired four years ago BECAUSE HE WAS CONSIDERED AN OFFENSIVE GURU - make the choices he feels he needs to make to be successful based on people who can meld with the offense the team already knows and runs?
If you didn't like Gus Malzahn's offense and really wanted a change, then why wasn't he just fired? If you force someone on him this year, there's a good chance we're going to have to make a change next year, anyway. Even if he is successful - which I hope he is because I genuinely like Gus - then you know what we may be left with? A slightly watered down Tuberville situation where our head coach is never fully comfortable with the administration again. You're left with a coach who is always looking for a possible way out the door at a time when what Auburn needs most is stability, not change.
I'm sick and tired of reading about the powers-that-be, whether we're talking boosters, people in the athletic department, or elsewhere, meddling so much in Auburn football decisions that should be up to the head coach. One of the reasons Saban is successful at Alabama is because he has that "full control." I don't think Auburn's power brokers have ever been able to stomach the thought of turning over the program to someone like that. That's what it takes, though. Give a guy control and if he fails, you move on.
That's what Auburn needs to do right now. They need to let Gus do what he wants. If he fails, then we move on. But you know what? I don't think he will. I think someone like Chip Lindsey may be exactly what Gus needs.
You know what I do know, though? We're ten days into a search for a new coordinator at one of the most critical times of the recruiting season, and if the power brokers behind the scenes are really playing games with this hire in some form of internal power struggle, then it makes us look like a complete joke.
Do the right thing, Auburn. Shut this down right now and let Gus hire who he wants.* If he fails with his choice, then we move on. If he succeeds but is unhappy because you forced a coach on him, then you've created a crack in the foundation of our program that is only going to grow. If he succeeds with his choice, then we have a happy coach and a successful football program, and we're all happy.
Let him do what he needs to do to win, Auburn. We'll all be better for it. And if you don't, then I sincerely hope the new University President coming in this summer takes a long, hard look at the athletic department and makes some sweeping changes.
*Within reason; Art Briles is still out of the picture. Period. End of sentence. I'm not really comfortable with Kendall, either.