Kevin Steele was formally introduced as Auburn’s new defensive coordinator during a press conference on Tuesday.

Steele replaces Will Muschamp at the position after the unit ranked 11th in scoring defense (26 points per game) and 13th in total defense (405.2).

However, the Tigers defense enjoyed its best performance of the season in a 31-10 Birmingham Bowl win over Memphis, which was held without an offensive touchdown and only managed 205 total yards of offense under interim defensive coordinator Lance Thompson, who is now an assistant under Muschamp on South Carolina’s staff.

Steele, who comes to Auburn after one season guiding LSU’s defense, is Auburn’s seventh defensive coordinator in the last 10 years and fourth in the last five years.

Here’s a full transcript of his introductory press conference, starting with head coach Gus Malzahn:

Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn

“We are excited to formally introduce our new defensive coordinator, Kevin Steele. We are very excited that he is with us. When we started this process, there were a couple of things I was looking for. I wanted to be patient, and we got the right guy. I was looking for someone who had SEC experience, and who had been successful in this league. He has that and then some. I was looking for a successful recruiter, and he is one of the top recruiters in all of college football. I was also looking for someone that has high character, integrity and he definitely has that and then some with that. And someone who would be a great example for players, and he fits with that. Lastly, I was looking for someone for stability, someone that would be here for a while and help build our defensive into something special. He fit all of the above, and we are excited that Kevin Steele is our new defensive coordinator.”

Auburn Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele

Opening statement
“It is certainly an exciting time for Linda and myself and my children. My daughter is quite excited, being an Auburn graduate. It’s an exciting time to be here with Coach, and the opportunity that we have before us. It was a very easy decision for me for a lot of reasons, and I’m sure as we go through the questions and answers some of those reasons will come out. We are looking forward to getting started and meeting the players, obviously off-season conditioning and spring practice to implement the defensive structure. There are some things in the defense that will be quite similar just because of the coaching tree, so that is a good thing. We will go through spring practice and do everything we can to build a championship-type program and a championship-type defense. Auburn has a history of being a hard-nosed, physical defense for years and years. Ever since I was a young guy growing up in this state and had a high school coach as a father, I certainly know the history and the tradition of Auburn’s hard-nosed defense and I am looking forward to being a part of that.”

Reasons why he made the move
“Well, there are a lot of them. The real reason that it comes down to, other than just the normal coaching things, is Coach Malzahn and the kind of person and leader he is. That was a key component for me personally. And then the fact that there is tradition and history here to win championships and to play hard-nosed defense. But from a personal standpoint, the state and this university has a large part of me in it.  My first game was in Jordan-Hare Stadium. When Larry Blakeney, who played for my dad, was playing for the Auburn Tigers, my dad brought me to my first college game in this stadium. David Housel, who was the athletic director here, played for my father in high school. My younger brother (Jeff) works in the athletic department here as an associate athletic director. I’m not sure what he does, but he has a job here. My daughter is a graduate from here. My mom lives in Prattville. There were just a lot of things that made it work.”

On his style of play
“There is a philosophy, but it is still that you have to stop the run, you have to be physical, and you have to eliminate big plays in this league now, because it is a big-play league now in a lot of ways. When you are a defensive coordinator in this league and you have common opponents and you are watching other offenses, obviously you see the other defenses against it, so you see the style of play. Over the course of the year, doing that every week you get familiar with the style — the type of defensive linemen, the type of linebackers, and the type of defensive backs that they have. There becomes through osmosis a familiarity. Plus, because of being in the SEC, most of the guys on the roster we had evaluated at some point in time wherever I was. So I saw those guys and I knew who they were. That part of it ties into really building that to what they can do. It is not so much what you can do as a coach, it is what the players can do and what they can execute. There will always be tweaks. I don’t think in this day and age you can just go in with a playbook and say, ‘This is what we do and this is how we do it and conform to it.’ You have to find the strengths and the weaknesses of your players and improve on the weaknesses and build on the strengths. Sometimes that means doing some things different than you have before.”

On assembling the defensive staff
“Well that is a little bit of a head coach’s question. Coach has afforded me the opportunity to have some input in that. We are still in the process of it. When Coach decides that has come to the final point, then I am sure he will pass it along.”

On being Auburn’s seventh defensive coordinator in the last decade
“I have been married for 35 years, and I was probably the eighth or ninth choice for her. So sometimes you just hit the right place with the right guy. This is the right place with the right people and it works. I am not concerned with that at all.”

On the terms of his deal
“At some point in time, they go through their procedure. I don’t know how to read a contract. I just know that I’m the defensive coordinator here, and there were some general terms, but Coach will address that when it comes to that point.”

Does he prefer a 4-3 or a 3-4 base…
“I think you have to be able to do both in this league. You’ve got to be able to mix it up. If you watch the New England Patriots play, they’ll tell you they’re a 3-4 team, but then they line up in a 4-3 a good bit. So it’s not so much where we start with it. The personnel will have a lot to do with that. But we will do both things.”

On what he has done since he was hired
“I’ve been on the phone a lot with Coach because, after everything was final, then I got on a plane and came to meet with Coach in Birmingham. Then we’ve been on the phone constantly as I went back and got my stuff to drive up here. And I didn’t need a GPS to get to Auburn, by the way. I knew exactly where I was going. So it’s been a lot of just talking to different potential candidates for the staff, talking to recruits and visiting with Coach. I know Ms. Kristi Malzahn will be glad to have a conversation with him in which he doesn’t have a cell phone in his hand very soon. So, hopefully, we can get all this hiring process done and recruiting over with.”

Has he watched film of Auburn to get familiar with the players
“Well, I did. It’s all on iPad now, and I’ve actually learned how to watch film on an iPad. That’s a feat for a guy that is my age. Those players they can do all kinds of things on those iPads, but for us … I did just because I wanted to and had a few minutes. I did pull up some tape and watched it.”

Is there is a position he prefers to coach
“No, not really. I’ve kind of done it all. I’m not too thrilled about coaching nose guards and tackles for a living, but I could do it.”

His takeaways from watching film of Auburn
“Well, I think the thing that came out is one of the games I watched happened to be just because it was on my iPad and easy to find, I knew exactly where it was, was early in the season against LSU and then I watched the bowl game. I think the thing I take away from that is that it was a defense that grew and matured and got better and better and better as the year went on. And I thought the last couple of games, it really was a totally different defensive unit than what started the season.”

On what his message to recruits has been
“Just like anything, recruiting is fun. You get a lot of joy out of it. It’s almost like a hobby, and so it’s not a hard thing to do. If you yourself believe in something, then you can market the positives: the head coach, what kind of person he is, the system, the players we have here, the building process toward becoming champions. That’s fun to do, so it’s not a hard message at all. And this university as some of you know … I hope you know this if you’re sitting in this room … this is a very unique place. The Auburn Family, what it means to the people who support this university, what football means to it, the pride in the university, the love for the program is not something that is hard for players to see, for prospects to see. It’s easy for me because, as a young first, second, third, fourth grader growing up in this stadium coming here … I wore No. 7 in junior high, and I was a quarterback at Prattville Junior High. I don’t think I need to tell you why I wore No. 7. The guy won a Heisman trophy here, Pat Sullivan. Those kinds of things I experienced as a youngster in this state following this program, so the very things that I lived are easy to present to the prospects and what this place is and what it stands for and the family that exists here, the pride that exists here in the football program and what it means to be an Auburn Tiger. That’s not a hard sale.”

How long he lived in the state of Alabama
“Which time? My mom is from West Blocton. My dad is from Centreville. Those are both in Bibb County. My dad was a high school coach. We lived on Highway 82 in Prattville, in Billingsley, in Bibb County, in Centreville, in Tuscaloosa and in Gordo. So if it’s on Highway 82, I know where it’s at. And then when I was in eighth grade, my dad’s high school coach at Bibb County High School was a superintendent of schools in South Carolina, and he hired my dad up there. My mom and dad stayed up there 27 years and then moved back to the family farm in Bibb County. I’ve worked in this state two times previously.”

So you were basically here until you were in the eighth grade?
“Yes. To size it up for you, I’m not positive of this, but other than my brother at East Carolina and my two children, I only know two relatives that don’t live within about 100 miles of where we’re standing right now.”

How would he compare himself to Will Muschamp…
“I don’t know; I will let you assess that. I know how I am, and I am not going to get into assessing Will. We’re good friends. Obviously, there are some philosophical things defensively that we speak the same language, so in terms of terminology, there are a lot of similarities. A lot of similarities in that. As far as coaching styles, that’s up to somebody else.”

On what kind of assurance he gave Gus Malzahn that he would be here long-term
“He has the best clause in my contract that anybody could have. My wife said that we are going to Auburn, and we’re staying in Auburn. So, there’s no ink that could give more guarantee than that. I’m 57 or 58, I don’t even know what I am, but I want to be here the duration of my coaching career, and I’ve never been able to say that before. Part of the reason is I saw my first game here, and it will be just fine with me that I coach my last game here.”

Does he remember the first game he ever saw at Jordan-Hare Stadium
“I do. I was in the first grade. We drove from Gordo, Alabama. I thought we were going halfway across the country. We drove (Highway) 82 the whole way, and I know exactly where I sat. I can take you right over there and show you where I sat. The stadium is a little different now. Then we walked back up this street to Sewell Hall with Larry Blakeney and had his chin strap. If you went to my mine and Jeff’s room as a child you could probably still find Larry’s chin strap somewhere in there. (Does he remember the opponent?) I don’t. I do remember this though– probably one of the saddest days of my life — I think it was 1965 or 1966, Larry (Blakeney) started at quarterback against Georgia Tech. It rained really, really hard that day, and we lost to Georgia Tech, and I was a sad, sad guy driving back to Billingsley, Alabama, because the Auburn Tigers got beat by Georgia Tech in a rainstorm in Legion Field. So, I’ve got a lot of memories about this place.”

Any concerns on the future working here
“No, not at all. I can assure you this, when you’ve coached as long as I have, you know the signs of greatness and you know the signs of when the right people are at the right place. Starting with the head coach — you’ve got to understand, Coach has the same characteristics as a person, a leader, a communicator and as a football coach as two other guys, and I think you will understand why I’m saying this, Coach Osbourne and Coach Bowden — same type of personality in terms of just the way they go about dealing with us as coaches, dealing with players, recruiting and why they are coaching. First and foremost, it’s about the players. That was very evident to me, but I always knew that because Coach and I have known each other for a while, and that was a key component. I guess what you are saying is, why did you think this was the right place at the right time – to come and build and be a part of a championship program? In 35 years, you know what that looks like, you know what the right people are, and it’s really about people. The other stuff changes, but it’s really about people, and I am very confident that from players all the way to the head coach, that we have what it takes to be champions.”

Has he talked to Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams
“Briefly. That is a head coach’s thing, really. He will ask me to help with that, but that is a situation where a new guy is telling you what to do and that’s not necessary. Yes, I have met them. Yes, we’ve talked about the future, but the rest of it is really Coach.”

How much he has had to adjust with up-tempo, no-huddle offenses in the league
“I really looked over there (to Malzahn), because there is a guy in this room that had a lot to do with that. It has changed defenses in the SEC. It’s changed it fast and furious. It’s not as easy as it used to be. Playing defense in this league with the up-tempo and the multiplicity of the formations and the commitment to run the ball out of the spread offense and throw it effectively has gone up in this league. People are really good at it. It’s hard on the defensive players. It goes at a fast pace. You’ve got to be really careful about thinking that you are going to just out-call everybody in the game, because it has almost turned it a little bit into basketball in that the players have to adjust on the run pretty quick. You can’t huddle up every time and say ‘You do this, you do that.’ It’s a fast-paced game. It’s hard. It’s not an easy thing. We’re not as smart as offensive coaches. It takes us a little longer to adjust, but we’re getting there.”

His assessment of the 2016 linebacker corps
“I’m not really ready at this point in time. I’ve only been here less than three days, and when you start talking about players, specifically position groups or players individually, you need to have the complete folder, as you will, on it. We’ve got time for that. We don’t kick off until September, so with the off-season program, the spring practice, I just think it’s fair to the players before you really start assessing them and saying ‘We have this, we have that, we don’t have that,’ is a process to go through. The key is that we have the right guys on the field when we kick it off next fall.”