clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

AUBURN FIRES GUS MALZAHN

New, 1070 comments

I didn’t think they’d actually do it.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Alabama The Montgomery Advertiser-USA TODAY Sports

It happened today. Auburn fired Gus Malzahn.

Gus Malzah finishes his eight seasons as Auburn’s head coach with a 68-35 record, one SEC Championship, two SEC West titles, and a trip to the final BCS National Championship Game. He also was the most effective coach in the country against Nick Saban, winning three out of eight matchups with the best coach of all time. Still, the offensive stagnation, recruiting downturn, and tepid 2020 were too much to overcome and he was relived of his coaching duties this afternoon.

We’re WELL AWARE of how much money this will cost Auburn. $10M almost immediately. It remains to be seen where that donation is going to come from. There’s assuredly a booster ready to sign the check, or else this wouldn’t have happened. The athletic department was projected to take a $40M-$70M downturn with COVID this season, and that’s not something that’ll heal itself right away next season. Malzahn will be due the rest of his money in a fairly short amount of time as well, so the cost of this firing is almost unconscionable.

Auburn beat Mississippi State 24-10 last night to finish the regular season at 6-4, but the game was one of the biggest snoozers you’ll ever see. The offense was a mess for more than three quarters, and the struggles on that side of the ball for the better part of three years (and then some) does fall squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. It’s his deal, and he gambled his reputation and job on fixing it.

Now, Kevin Steele will be the interim head coach, because, well, WE DON’T EVEN HAVE A REPLACEMENT LINED UP. WE ARE GOING TO SPEND $21M TO CONDUCT A SEARCH FOR A CANDIDATE THAT MAY OR MAY NOT EVEN BE OUT THERE.

That said, who’s going to be on the short list?

MARIO CRISTOBAL

This is the guy that many think may succeed Saban at Alabama. If there’s a strategic thought in this hire, it could be to block Bama’s next move by hiring their top guy. Still, Saban is spry and isn’t going anywhere for at least a few years. Cristobal is a fantastic recruiter, and his offensive lines are tremendous (thus the basis of his appeal to Auburn fans right now), but his gameday abilities leave a little bit to be desired. First-game Bo beat him, for God’s sake. He would be a good hire, but I’d need to see some meaningful assistant hires to be pleased with this.

BILLY NAPIER

Head coach at Louisiana, just turned down South Carolina (maybe because he heard something brewing through the grapevine). He’s another Saban tree guy, and he was responsible for the first part of Alabama’s true wide receiver dominance with the bulk of Amari Cooper’s career and Calvin Ridley as well. He’s been at ULL since 2018, winning his division each of those years, amassing a 27-11 record during that time.

He’d be another guy that may block Bama’s next move, so it would help in that regard, but who knows if he’s ready to take over this program at this time.

HUGH FREEZE

Yeah, this is a real name. If we think we have baggage with the NCAA right now, imagine what it looks like when Hugh Freeze steps onto campus. I know he’s buddies with Gus, and I can’t believe that our administration would want to continue to go down this route after getting rid of Gus. He almost became offensive coordinator a couple of seasons ago, but ended up with the Liberty job instead. That would’ve been his track to rehabbing his career.

KEVIN STEELE

He’s the interim for the upcoming bowl game, and he’ll get the shot at winning the job if he wants it. I imagine he’d be a true CEO, delegating and letting the offense do its thing with whatever coordinator he chose.

URBAN MEYER

We can dream, right? He’s literally the only guy that I would be over the moon with hiring after this decision. Plus...

As far as assistants go, I wonder who’s going to stay and who’s going to go. We’ll investigate that later on, as we’re just digesting this information. There will be much more coming out after this, but damn. Didn’t think they’d actually freaking do it.