Yesterday was not fun. I straight up did not have a good time with that football game, and I don’t think many of you would disagree. The 21-14 loss to Georgia, wherein we saw the offense mount a fourth quarter comeback before falling short/getting screwed, was a microcosm of this season under Gus Malzahn.
In our Snap Judgments article earlier today, many of us admitted that we were officially off the Gus Bus. We’re not alone, but we may be some of the last ones to disembark.
I don’t really have much to say about the game itself. Georgia’s got a good defense, and it took three-plus quarters before we figured out something that would work against it. When we did figure it out, the stadium got live and the defense fed off the offense’s first success of the game. Auburn controlled the final quarter, but it was too little too late. In the end, the stat that will tell the tale is below:
One team in that game crossed the opponent's 40 seven times and scored 14 points. The other crossed the opponent's 40 three times and scored 21 points.— CranJerry Hinnen (@JerryHinnen) November 17, 2019
That was the whole game.
Auburn missed a field goal, turned the ball over on a fumble and on downs three times. Murphy’s Law applied in clutch situations and for every single decision made by Gus last night. The onside kick? Great idea, near-perfect execution, but a block a millisecond too early? And they don’t even call it until a review? Honestly, that’s just bad luck. The review on the Seth Williams catch late? Uh, he had an entire foot down with the ball before stepping out. You can’t really blame Gus for that one either. And the missed facemask on our final drive? Clear as day, would have/should have given Auburn the first down near their own 40 with a minute or so to play. Not Gus’ fault that the SEC satellite office in Athens phoned in a favor.
But after the offensive performance we saw in Gainesville, and Baton Rouge, and yesterday, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt. You don’t get to say “man we got screwed on those calls” anymore. With a D+ on offense during quarters 1-3 instead of an F, Auburn walks yesterday with a convincing win. Same story in every loss this year.
Now, Gus has two wins over Georgia. 2-6 overall. 2-6 against LSU. 2-5 against Alabama, but maybe we’ll get 3-5 without Tua under center in a couple weeks. On the list of Gus’ sins, Georgia is the A-lister, taking starring roles in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and this now in 2019. It’s not a stretch to say that Auburn was better than the Bulldogs in three of those years, and probably should have a couple more wins against them during Gus’ tenure. The frustrations against Georgia aren’t all on Gus though... Chizik went 1-3, and Tuberville slipped in his later years.
That leads to an interesting discussion that the College and Mag group chat has had today.
What should an Auburn coaching contract contain in terms of requirements? There are always incentives for coaches to win a certain number of games, and bonuses hit when you make a bowl, or win the conference. Why aren’t there minimums that you need to meet? Why shouldn’t an Auburn coach be required to beat Georgia and LSU every other year regularly? Why shouldn’t they be required to beat Alabama every 2-3 years? Why shouldn’t they be expected to win the West every few seasons? It’s something that we’ll explore in the coming weeks.
So what’s the solution? Does Auburn cut ties with Gus Malzahn? Man, at times yesterday, the support in the stadium seemed aimed at beating Georgia and toward support of the players, but I don’t know if Gus was the target of the electric atmosphere. When do you end a relationship that’s pretty good? This is like when you’re dating someone, you have great fun, they’re pretty successful, good job, above average looks, but you find out they clap when an airplane lands. Is that enough to sever things? If things aren’t working out for you, then it’s time. It’s probably time for Auburn and Gus to amicably make a split.
Truth is, that sucks. He’s having constant success at Auburn during the toughest period to coach at Auburn in history. Is there someone out there that can match what Gus has done? Is there someone that can take the good of this team — the defense and recruiting — and add in a new wrinkle on offense? Gus has been a part of the SEC for over a decade now, and his offense has never really evolved. He is who he is. It’s harder for an offensive coach to make a huge impact over that kind of a period because he’ll get figured out. Defensive guys can always react, but for an offensive coach who’s married to his system and ways, constantly having to find a new angle or a new scheme while staying true to who he’s always been is tough. It’s wearing. And Gus hasn’t tried it enough.
Truly, what needs to happen is there needs to a mutual split. Auburn doesn’t want to have to pay the buyout, and I’d like to think that we’re gracious toward Gus enough to let him go out on his own terms — like beating Bama and leaving for another job.
In the end, maybe we screw ourselves by ruining the fairly steady success we’ve had with Gus on the Plains. Maybe we soar to new heights, and maybe we drop to the level of Arkansas right now. There are quite a few possibilities, and there’s some fear for sure. All that we’ve figured out is that it’s time for something new. It’s time. More on this to come. War Eagle.