Sunday afternoon Auburn announced they were making a change in leadership of the football program. After eight seasons, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has been fired after a disappointing 6-4 season. Over his tenure in Auburn, Malzahn went 68-35 overall and 39-26 in the SEC. He was also the offensive coordinator under Gene Chizik from 2009-11. During the 2010 season, Auburn won the BCS National Championship led by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will serve as the interim head coach. Malzahn will be owed 21.5 million in his buyout.
Gus Malzahn Fired at Auburn
The Magical 2013 Season
The Malzahn era in Auburn got started off to a promising start. After going 3-9 in 2012 under Gene Chizik, the Tigers made the change to Malzahn. In his first year as head coach, Auburn went 12-2 and won the SEC Championship. They would go on to lose in heartbreaking fashion to the Florida State Seminoles in the final BCS National Championship Game. That season will always be one that Auburn fans hold dear and remember fondly. The “Prayer at Jordan-Hare” against Georgia and “Kick Six” in the Iron Bowl will always be remembered from that season.
What Went Wrong?
During that season Auburn did go 2-0 against its most bitter rivals in Alabama and Georgia. That trend did not continue. With LSU is added in, Malzahn was 8-17 against the big three and 0-12 on the road. He was more successful against Alabama than most others winning three times, but all those wins were at home. Alabama has won all the matchups in Tuscaloosa by double digits.
Quarterback development and the regression of the offense were the downfalls as well. Opponents struggled to stop Auburn the first two seasons in 2013 and 2014. That shifted when more teams started running the offense and figuring out the offense. When the head coach is an offensive guy, and that side struggles it is just not going to work.
Auburn under Malzahn has failed to develop quarterbacks as well. Look at the last two signal-callers for the Tigers. Jarrett Stidham regressed in 2018 after a stellar 2017, and Bo Nix has not reached his full potential now in his second season at Auburn. These quarterbacks have arrived with much anticipation, and just never lived up to their hype. When that happens continuously, that falls on lack of development from the coaching staff.
What is Next?
Auburn will need to find the next leader quickly to salvage the recruiting class. They will also need to find someone who can go up against the likes of Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, and others for those top recruits. A great recruiter is what Auburn needs now. Auburn has proven they can win big in the past, and with the right coach, they can obtain that again.