When you hear someone say “there’s nothing like Auburn,” just nod your head and agree.

That’s a theory I’ve had for awhile dating to the Gene Chizik days. But this isn’t about to be some 800-word worship session of all things Tigers. If anything, it’s closer to the exact opposite.

There’s nothing like Auburn, which we got a reminder of throughout the 2018 season and even more recently this week when rumors about a potential administration movement to cover Gus Malzahn buyout resurfaced. That buyout, which is reportedly north of $32 million, is of course being discussed after Malzahn went 7-5 in the first year of his new 7-year, $49 million deal.

These tweets from ALReporter’s Josh Moon got the pot stirring Monday:

Just another manic Monday at Auburn, am I right?

To recap, money ain’t a thing on The Plains. Duh.

If money were a thing, Auburn wouldn’t have let a lame duck A.D. write a $49 million check to keep Malzahn at Auburn at this time last year. To Auburn’s bank account, that might as well have been a strongly-worded letter outlining the reasons Malzahn should stay there and not leave for Arkansas.

The fact that there are reportedly serious conversations about covering a buyout that massive after a 7-win season is peak Auburn. It’s showing exactly why it’s the most bizarre Power 5 job there is.

A month ago, you had Auburn athletic director Allen Greene — not the one who gave Malzahn the blank check — say before the Georgia game that Malzahn would be back in 2019. But after losing by 3 scores to the Dawgs and then getting trampled by Alabama 2 weeks later, somehow it leaked out that Malzahn might not have his job beyond 2018 after all.

On one hand, you could look at that and say, “who in the world would want to sign up for that?” Like, why would any coach want to come to a place where winning 7 games — with what Malzahn called the toughest schedule in America — a year removed from beating Alabama and winning a division title is a fireable offense? To deal with that kind of uncertainty would drive a person insane.

Lovie Smith, who made $5 million in 2018, won 4 games to improve his record at Illinois to 9-27 and he just got an extension! That was because Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman didn’t want to eat a $12 million buyout to start over.

If Auburn only had to eat a $12 million buyout with Malzahn, he probably would have had his office cleaned out the day after the Iron Bowl before getting an official word from Greene.

Now obviously expectations at Auburn are different than they are at Illinois. Part of that is Malzahn’s doing. Here’s a guy who’s a year removed from becoming the only active coach to take down Nick Saban at Alabama for the second time at his current school. That’s the pro-Malzahn crowd’s favorite stat. At this time last year, he was a victory from clinching a Playoff berth and 2 wins from clinching the program’s third national title appearance in 8 seasons.

He’s 7-7 since then, including an 0-3 mark against Georgia and Alabama in which the offensive-minded Malzahn was outscored 107-38.

That’s really what this comes down to and why the Auburn job is so unique. Those annual matchups with Saban and Kirby Smart allowed the pendulum to swing so drastically because of the home-road thing. Facing both teams on an annual basis isn’t fun, especially in the even years when they’re both road matchups.

Maybe Saban is only at Alabama for the next 3-4 years and Auburn will have its window to seize control of the rivalry. Or maybe Saban gets replaced by Dabo Swinney and Auburn has Swinney and Smart to deal with for the next 20 years. The latter seems like the more likely scenario.

One would have to think that’s at the root of Auburn’s latest state of panic.

Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

It’s perhaps a different kind of panic than it had after the 2012 season when Chizik was fired 2 years removed from winning a national title. The fact that the Tigers were rewarded with a national championship berth immediately after making the move to Malzahn perhaps confirmed the belief that it starts and ends with the head coach. Buyouts are just a price of winning.

If Malzahn got bought out, that’d be an easy trivia question: “Name the only program in America who fired 2 different coaches after they reached national title games this decade.”

Duh. Of course it would be Auburn.

Chizik only got about $7.5 million to go away. Malzahn wouldn’t have to work another day in his life if Auburn told him to walk.

That’s the counterargument to me questioning why anyone would want to go to Auburn. Well, you get all the resources you need, you can recruit the state of Georgia in your backyard and chances are, you’ll probably get at least a couple epic Toomer’s Corner Rolls and a fat buyout when it’s all said and done.

For some people, that might be super enticing. Getting the Auburn job is basically a get-rich quick scheme for a Group of 5/lower Power 5 coaching candidate. But unlike pretty much all get-rich quick schemes, this one actually puts money in the bank. And the beauty is after you cash in, you probably don’t have to work again.

Did I just talk myself into why Auburn might be the best job in America?

Good money is hard to come by. It’s a win if you can get those Auburn boosters to share some of it with you.

If Malzahn is fired, one would assume that it’ll be to make a Jimbo Fisher-like deal with the next coach. Maybe the Tigers try and throw $12 million a year at Swinney or perhaps the Bob Stoops rumor that he tried to squash has more truth than he’s leading on.

Who knows what Auburn is going to do? I gave up trying to figure that out a long time ago. Instead, I’ll just revert to the belief I’ve had about Auburn for the better part of this decade.

There’s no Power 5 job as bizarre as the one on The Plains.