For eleven of the last twelve seasons, Gus Malzahn has been on Auburn’s sideline in some capacity. Over those eleven seasons, Auburn won three SEC West titles, two SEC Championships and one National Championship. Over those eleven seasons, Auburn fans got to experience some of the most incredible moments not just in Auburn football history but in sports history. From the “Camback” to the “Prayer in Jordan-Hare” to “Kick Six” to last year’s Iron Bowl, there have been moments and games that will live in Auburn football lore forever. It was a good run.
But it’s over.
On Sunday afternoon, Auburn’s administration officially announced the firing of Gus Malzahn. Ending one of the wilder rides in Auburn football history comprised of so many epic moments but so many frustratingly consistent failures.
Ya’ll know I am a Gus Malzahn fan. I have long defended and advocated for Malzahn’s employment at Auburn. I wanted him to succeed not only because I am an Auburn fan but also because I am a Gus fan. I have never met him personally but from what I’ve seen of him as the leader of Auburn’s football program and from what I’ve heard from folks that have spent time with him, he’s a good dude and someone any fan would be proud to have coaching their favorite team.
But Auburn is stuck and has been stuck for some time. Stuck at the bottom tier 2. They recruit well enough to beat, outside of some absolutely painful exceptions, the teams they are supposed to beat. However, they don’t recruit well enough to beat, outside of some glorious exceptions, the teams they are not supposed to beat. So Auburn is stuck in this limbo where they never bottom out but can’t get over the hump and win any championships.
At some point, it does more harm to stay in one place than it does to just move in a new direction. I think most people would agree that Auburn has reached that point.
I still didn’t expect it though. I figured $21 million was too high, 6-4 too solid and Auburn’s administration too cautious to actually pull the trigger. I was wrong. Auburn’s power brokers decided they had seen enough and made the move.
I will always appreciate what Gus Malzahn accomplished for Auburn. I still believe he is a good football coach and I suspect he will soon find employment elsewhere and do great work. I am also excited about the future. For the first time that I can remember, Auburn did not wait for a collapse to make a move. The incoming coach will not be charged with rebuilding the program but instead pushing Auburn to new heights from the foundation Malzahn laid.
I don’t know what happens next. I don’t know if the next head coach will prove to be an upgrade or if he will flame out making us all pine for the days of bubble screens and gum chewing. I will worry about all that later. For now, I just wanna say thank you to Gus Malzahn for all the fun times and a best of luck for the future. You will always be an Auburn man in my book.
War Eagle Gus!