In Part 1 of our story, Gus Malzahn revealed his deepest frustrations with the way things went, and the unjust nature of it all in his rant to the higher power. Now, however, he needs to answer some questions himself.
The head coach sits resolute in his office, waiting for the moment he needs to leave to face the pressing questions of reporters and beat writers everywhere.
It’s a rainy night, mirroring his mood. A cold wind slings open the portico doors overlooking Donahue Drive, and Gus Malzahn rises to slowly amble outside. He needs to feel the cold, let it wash over him, become one with the storm. He’ll need to adapt and find oneness with the anger as he prepares to face the inquisition ahead.
Somewhere, Dire Straits plays ambiently.
Across campus, there’s a throng of reporters waiting. Athletic Director Allen Greene is trying to appease the growing mob as they all sit, foaming at the mouth to have the head coach answer their questions about his status.
Back at the church, a night janitor finds the dregs of Gus’ conversation with God.
At the press conference, a reporter raises a hand.
“If Gus is fired, what’s the process for selecting a new head coach going to look like??”
Allen Greene responds...
“If it comes to that, then I imagine most of the senior staff including myself will be part of a selection committee, but I’d like to reiterate my utmost confidence in our head coach after recent conversations.”
Outside, the motorcade arrives, and Gus Malzahn gets to feel the rain on his face once more before entering the lions’ den. It’s his last chance for a moment of requisite peace, even if the thrashing storm serves as both comfort and omen at the same time.
Gus and his supporters enter the building, soaking wet. Not exactly the confident entrance that one needs against this kind of grilling.
It’s an abrupt beginning to the main event. In walks the coach, dripping from the rain. His athletic director ushers him to the podium, moving deftly out of the way, unsure of what’s about to happen. Gus’ jaw is set as he turns to face the assembly.
There are both friends and enemies in the crowd. There are those that would like to ask the easy questions, and there are those that would like to twist the dagger, trapping Gus into a headline answer if they can. He needs neither of those, he wants the fair questions. He finds a familiar face in the audience.
“Uh, yes, right there.”
The reporter comes to his feet, eager and a bit surprised to have the honor of asking the first question of the night. There’s no preamble to his inquiry. He’s neither friend nor foe, but a neutral extension of the Auburn family, wanting to ask the question that everyone has in mind.
Gus measures his response. A sudden calm comes over him. He’s prepared for this already. As all eyes watch, the head coach places his hands in his pockets, and turns toward his allies on the stage with him. His mouth turns upward in a wry smile.
“Yeah. And we’re gonna win.”
What happens next remains to be seen, but we’ll get a preview on Friday as Auburn faces Purdue in the Music City Bowl. Kickoff comes at 12:30 pm CST from Nashville, and we’ll see if Gus’ promise to take more control turns out to be a fruitful one. War Eagle!