The Iron Bowl rivalry will look much different in 2021, as Auburn fired Gus Malzahn Sunday. Malzahn finished the 2020 season with a 6-4 record, including a 42-13 loss to Nick Saban and Alabama.

Malzahn was somewhat of a thorn in Saban’s side, as his spread-em-out hurry-up offense gave Alabama’s defense fits at times. Malzahn finished with a 3-5 record against Saban, and the former Auburn head coach had more success against Saban than most.

On Sunday evening, Saban was on a teleconference call with reporters discussing the upcoming SEC Championship Game against Florida, and he was asked about Auburn firing Malzahn.

“Well, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Gus,” Saban said. “He was difficult to play against when he was a offensive coordinator. His teams always played hard the team was always well coached on, you know both sides of the ball and special teams. So, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Gus and I, you know, sometimes you wonder why people do what they do but I don’t know what the reasons are but I certainly think he’s an outstanding coach and has been a tough adversary for us to have to play against in the Iron Bowl every year and to have a lot of respect for Gus and the job that he’s done.”

Auburn will pay Malzahn his $21.5 million buyout for terminating his employment early.