If there’s anyone who understands what Gus Malzahn is going through this morning, it’s Gene Chizik, the former Auburn coach who hired Malzahn to the staff — and who was Chizik’s successor after the 2012 season — and has watched the program from a distance as an SEC Network analyst.

“I was very surprised,” Chizik said on “SEC This Morning.” “They finished 6-4, which is solid, it’s not great.”

Chizik then said Auburn is going to compare itself to Georgia, Alabama and LSU, and the other games they expect you to win. Malzahn was 68-35 at Auburn, 40-28 in the SEC, and 2-5 in bowl games, but Chizik pointed out that Malzahn was 8-17 against the primary rivals, which Chizik said was factor No. 1.

“Factor No. 2 the South Carolina loss. The two losses to me that really became huge for Gus this year was the South Carolina loss, and again obviously you see what happened with Will (Muschamp) and how they ended up and how the season unfolded, and then the other one was the A&M game, they were in firm control of the game, and the way they got outscored at the end of the game, I believe it was 17-0 in the last quarter,” Chizik said. “The way that they lost that game and then obviously with Alabama. You can say what you want, but when you lose like they did to Alabama, it’s just not a good look.”

Chizik said the Auburn leaders looked for a time to make the move with Malzahn, and on one hand he was surprised, but then he said nothing surprises him with Auburn.

“There’s very little alignment there, normally, I’m sure it was a split decision, some guys wanted to keep him, some guys didn’t,” Chizik said.

Chizik said Auburn now has an opportunity to go out and hire that “unbelievable no-brainer offensive guy” or stay at home with defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, someone they’re familiar with on The Plains. While he’s not sure, Chizik said a lot of people would clamor for Hugh Freeze and he said there’s not a lot of risk in terms of what to expect on the field.

“The guy’s proven in this league,” Chizik said. “If you’re looking for no-brainer on-the-field success, which to me, that’s what Auburn people, they’re consistently comparing themselves to what’s going on across the state. Most of them want a Hugh Freeze in there because in their mind, there’s not a lot of risk in terms of wins to losses.”