They commit crimes at Georgia. They become productive young men at Auburn.
Look, like all other Auburn fans, I am happy as hell about the Iron Bowl. And I actually predicted that Auburn would go 9-3 this year. But that doesn't mean I have to just accept Malzahn's way of things. This season could have been a lot bigger for Auburn. Our defense is national championship-caliber. Our offense has the pieces there to compete with anyone. It's Malzahn game plan and his inability to make in-game adjustments that routinely cost us important games. Coming into this season, we had some pretty good depth at quarterback. Malzahn said Gatewood would be in there every game with specially-designed packages. How are you going to put Whitlow, who was still recovering from knee surgery, in there at a wildcat when you've got Gatewood on the sidelines? It's this sort of decision that is maddening and it's classic Malzahn. Even if we had lost to Bama, I wasn't looking for Malzahn to be fired. I figured next season would take care of that (road game to UGA, LSU and Alabama back-to-back to finish the season, throw in another loss or two and that'd be it). If Malzahn weren't so stubborn, if he would let someone else inject some new thinking in the offense, then we'd be okay. Malzahn can clearly recruit well, he can get the team ready (sometimes) and he can assemble a pretty good staff. It's offense though ... for a guy who is supposed to be the greatest mind in offense, Auburn's identity the last couple of seasons is ... defense. Again, I'm not calling for him to be fired. You don't fire a guy after a 9-3 season. I just think we lost a major opportunity this season for something more. After this year, Derrick Brown and company are going pro. And while we've got talent rising up in the ranks, be prepared for a little drop off in what the defense can do. As for the offense ... we all know what to expect from Malzahn's offense, don't we? So while this has been a "good" season, it wasn't great ... and it should have been. I chalk up the losses to game mismanagement on Malzahn's part. This is the same Malzahn we've had since the National Championship game against FSU. He's not going to change. Do we, as Auburn fans, just accept lost opportunities for the sake of a big win here or there (just remember, 14 of those points on Saturday were pick-sixes, and one of them was at least a 14 point differential as Bama was looking to go up by a touchdown). You don't need to be blindly loyal to a program, team, or a coach to be a "true fan." I love Auburn and I want them to play as great as they are able to.
It was an exhausting game but probably one of the best games of the year. WDE!
That's true. Of course, we all can't play Georgia Tech ....
So the hot take here is that Auburn's defense doesn't step on the field. I get it that Auburn's offense probably won't get out of the low 20s, but our defense not showing up? Steaming hot take!!!
A Georgia fan complaining about the refs? That's rich! My friend, if it weren't for the bad officiating, Georgia would be looking at probably at least 2 losses right now, if not 3.
Objectively, what else would you expect a head coach to say? "Eh, this kid is just okay." No, of course a coach is going to talk up his players. Now, Gus is a little delusional if he believes any team he coaches is going to bring home a trophy at this point because ... let's face it, his offense is atrocious and it has been for quite some time.
Every year it's the same thing. "We're improving, we're getting better, we're a work in progress." After every loss, it's the same thing: "didn't get it done, didn't execute." Malzahn has had 2 good seasons since assuming head coaching duties at Auburn. 2013 and 2017. He has exactly 2 wins apiece against Auburn's biggest rivals (UGA, Bama, LSU). He has exactly 2 bowl game victories (Memphis, Purdue). All of this despite his team reeling in top-ten recruiting class year after year. This year should have been a good one. I don't care about the schedule. Look at what our defense has done. Nobody has scored more than 24 points on our team. For any other program in the country, having that sort of defense is enough to have them undefeated right now. Imagine this defense with 2013's offense. My God, we'd be ranked number 1! Instead, we're looking at a probably 8-4 season. Yeah, yeah, maybe we can beat Bama ... but I see no reason to believe that given our offense ineptitude. So the real question is this. We keep hearing big promises from Malzahn about next game or next season. But those promises never materialize. Never. Instead, Auburn's offense has become a liability for many seasons now. Let me remind you, Malzahn is a supposed offensive guru and yet this Auburn team is not known for offense but defense. So ... why are we paying Malzahn 7 million a year? Maybe we don't fire Malzahn this season. But it not now, when? Auburn's ceiling next year is likely 8-4. We're going to lose the bulk of our defensive starters to the draft and our offense will be largely the same (oh, except we're be starting all new linemen ... which might actually be a plus). So you tell me how next year is better than this year. Keep in mind, we finish the season with LSU and Alabama back-to-back...and we play at Georgia. That's 3 losses right off the bat. This year, Ole Miss almost beat us. Texas A&M almost beat us. I wouldn't put it past UNC to beat us. So, 8-4 next season. Beyond that, who can say. Do we wait another year or 2 or 3 before we finally pull the plug on this Gus Bus? The way I see it, Gus Malzahn is an old dirty band-aid that needs taking off. As we all know, you can pull it off slowly but it still hurts. Or, you can just rip it off fast. It hurts, but it's over and done with. Auburn should just accept the initial pain of the buyout and get rid of Malzahn. Promote Steele to HC. Steele has proven that he can build a team of quality assistants, that he can put together a solid game (at least defensive game plan) and that he can recruit. Promoting Steele also has the benefit of allowing Auburn an easy transition. No wholesale firing of the entire staff necessary. Keeping Steele and most of the existing staff in place also keeps the commitments in place. All Steele needs to do then is go out and get a quality offensive coordinator and QB coach. That is much easier to do in this climate than finding a good head coach. But that likely won't happen. The same minds that hired Malzahn, that gave him those absurd extensions are still there (for the most part).
....sigh Yeah, you're right, this is the greatest defense in the history of football. Just hand Georgia the Trophy. It's over.
Not taking anything away from Georgia's defense, but most of Auburn's run plays were up the middle ... that IS on Malzahn. And if Malzahn knew that Georgia's defense was good, why not prepare a better game plan for it? Use the tight-ends or a multi-back approach or go back to the RPO which worked so well in the past? This IS on Malzahn because he can't run an offense.
Look at it this way. If Auburn beats Bama, there is no way for them to make the playoffs. No way. On top of that, I think LSU beats Georgia in the Championship game. That would knock both our rivals out of playoff contention.
Wasn't DJ injured during fall practice?
He's going to stay at Auburn for as long as possible. He thinks he can still win a national championship despite squandering all the talent that has come through the doors at Auburn so far. If he was going to Arkansas, he would have done so 2 years ago instead of using that opening as leverage.
Knocking off Bama and UGA would, in my eyes, redeem the lost opportunity that this season presented. That's a tall order, but I like our chances against UGA more than Bama. Auburn's defense should be able to contain Georgia's offense enough to keep this close ... assuming Auburn doesn't constantly go 3-and-out. Auburn needs those tough, sustained drives on offense to win this one and I don't know that Malzahn can dial that up. Lose this game, and Malzahn really needs to look at Arkansas as his home for the future.
Oh please, Bama's only tough game so far and they blew it. Do a blind resume test and see how it compares to other teams. Sorry, but no, the committee does have a choice ... kick Bama out of the top 4 rankings until proven otherwise. Make Bama earn their way in ... like every other team. And did I read that right? Auburn is playing its best game right now? Uh ... we almost lost to Ole Miss. Our offense has regressed, my friend. Auburn will very well lose to both UGA and Bama. Maybe then, Gus will go to Arkansas and we can move on.
...and if Auburn didn't turn the ball over ... and if Nix were a better passer ... Auburn would be undefeated right now! Those things did happen. They're part of the game. Accept it and move on.
Correct. He hasn't done a "bad" job. Auburn is at least competitive and remains a middle tier SEC team. And that's all Auburn is going to be under Malzahn. If that's the goal, then fine ... but don't pay him 7 million a year when that sort of money is usually expected to pay a coach who wins trophies. Repeat ... I'm okay if Auburn wants to be a middle of the pack program that occasionally has a great season ... but don't write a blank check to Malzahn.
Let's clear the record, shall we? Malzahn had absolutely nothing to do with Cam Newton's success. Newton had enough raw talent and drive to do what he did with or without Malzahn. Cam would have been just as good under any other coach ... his time at JUCO should be proof enough of that. So let's not give credit where credit is not due. Malzahn did take a team to the BCS game ... and lost it when it was clear they could have/should have won. But again, if you take away two plays from the regular season, Auburn finishes 9-3 ... a respectable season, sure, but doesn't that dull the luster of Malzahn's myth just a little? It wasn't coaching that made that hail mary pass bounce off two Georgia defenders and into the receiver's hands. It wasn't coaching that allowed Chris Davis to return a missed kick field for a touchdown. So, again, that was NOT Malzahn's doing. The "greatest play" in college football had absolutely NOTHING to do with Malzahn. Period. And in 2017? Stidham's first year and Kerryon Johnson's last year? Let me repeat that last name for you ... Kerryon Johnson. That Auburn team was day and night with and without Johnson on the field. As for Nix. You claim that he is "Clearly the better QB." Says who? Based on what? I'm going to ask you to go back to Malzahn's press conferences in fall camp where he said that Gatewood and Nix were QB 1A and 1B because the two were so close that it was impossible to say one of them had separated himself. If you really believe that Nix was chosen because he somehow surged late, I've got beachfront property in Montana I'd like to sell you. And do you really expect us to believe that a true freshman quarterback who has a 50% passing completion rate is better than a guy who has been in Malzahn's system for over a year? Because ... what does that say about Malzahn and developing quarterbacks? Face it ... no matter how you spin it, this is bad for Malzahn. Malzahn built a name for himself in high school. He only came up to college ball as part of a package deal with several players including Mitch Mustain for Arkansas. Since then, his offenses are at best inconsistent with some flashes of "wow!" but more often than not, they are predictable and flat. Next year, 8-4 is Auburn's ceiling when all the talent on defense is playing on Sunday. So again, if you want to pay the guy top dollar to give this team 8-4 seasons, you keep on doing that. And hey, give credit to Jimmy Sexton (the real reason Malzahn has achieved that dream you talk about). Sexton, I should note represents dozens of high name coaches ... including Nick Saban. I'm not saying there's a conflict of interests there, but Saban is Sexton's biggest money maker ... is Sexton really going to do anything that would allow his top earner to stumble?
Let me ask you this. Where would Malzahn move on to after Auburn? Are teams like Clemson or Ohio State or Oklahoma in his future? No, no he's not. Auburn is his ceiling ... and he knows it. If and when Malzahn moves on, it will be to a middle tier power 5 program, or maybe a G5 program. The point is, Malzahn needs Auburn a lot more than Auburn needs Malzahn. He isn't a good coach. Sure, sometimes he gets lucky. Take away two miracle plays in 2013 and Auburn is 9-3 heading into bowl season. That's not coaching, that's the team believing in itself (oh, and they were almost all Chizik's players). Auburn can recruit just fine regardless of who the coach is. What happens with all that talent is the true question. How many promising quarterbacks have come to Auburn only to flame out and do nothing? Take this season: we came into spring practice with a relatively deep roster at QB. Willis left. And now Gatewood is gone. The smart move would have been to redshirt Nix, play Gatewood and use Willis as a backup. Now, all we have is Nix (and Sandberg, but ... come on). This 2019 defense is the best defense Auburn has ever had and likely will ever have for quite some time. This defense is national championship-caliber. Malzahn lost the games against Florida and LSU. And we're likely going to lose one or both games against UGA and Bama. Next season, when at least half of the defensive starters are gone, we won't have the defense to rely on while Gus tries to figure out why his book of trick plays doesn't cut it. If you want to keep Gus Malzahn who is pretty much an 8-4 coach, then I guess you're happy to pay him among a salary that ranks him among the top ten coaches in the country?
Auburn should have called Sexton's bluff back when he circulated those rumors that Arkansas was trying to hire Malzahn away. "Oh, Gus, you're gonna head up the road to Arkansas? They're gonna pay you as much as we pay you? Oh, okay. Well, best of luck." Instead they agreed to an absurd contract. But that's in the past--can't change that. Wouldn't it be nice if we all got jobs where we were guaranteed millions of dollars regardless of how well or poorly we did our jobs? Ideally, this is what happens. Malzahn leaves of his own accord and goes to some Sun Belt program where his offensive philosophy might actually work. Or they fire him and just rip the band-aid off nice and fast. Regardless, they then promote Kevin Steele to HC. Why Steele? Steele is already established within the program. He's proven he can put together a group of assistants, that he can recruit, that he can call effective game plans and make in-game adjustments. Additionally, promoting Steele means he gets to keep as many assistants as he wants without the usual wholesale firings that come with an outside coach. Therefore, you promote Steele, there is minimal disruption. That means players are less likely to transfer, that commitments from high school players are less likely to be abandoned, and Auburn doesn't have to experience the usual "transition years" when there is a new coach. All he would need to do is hire a quality offensive coordinator. And THAT is easier to do than to go out and find a whole new head coach. Yeah, Steele didn't do too well his first time as a HC. Neither did Orgeron. But Steele's first stint was almost 20 years ago. I think he's learned a thing or two since then. We can dream.
Oh, this is a family affair then? Well, then, shouldn't Malzahn be a good member of the family and take a pay cut? I mean, this is all about family, right? A good member of a family wouldn't be demanding to be paid as much as he is for the results he has produced.
Auburn should have called his bluff in 2017. "Oh, Arkansas is calling you home? Oh, okay. Well Coach, it's been real. Can we help you pack?" Instead, Auburn gave him an absurd raise.
"improvement on offense" That's the problem though, we keep hearing from Gus that things will get better, things will improve. But they don't. The same old issues stick around year after year. Face it: what we're seeing IS the Gus Malzahn offense. It's more suited to high school or the Sun Belt.
I agree we were too quick to pull the trigger on Chizik. But word was that there was a toxic environment around the team under his leadership. Some players could get away with murder while others were punished normally ... all depending on their play skills. So maybe it was more a move that things were going downhill fast and cutting him loose was the only way to prevent further chaos. But as for Gus. Define routinely? He beat Alabama in 2013 and in 2017. That's it. He, again, beat UGA in 2013 and in 2017. He beat LSU in 2014 and in 2016. If you're counting, he's 2-4 against Bama, 2-5 against UGA, and 2-5 against LSU. I suppose that's okay, but keep in mind that he is one of the highest paid coaches in the country. Would you pay a building contractor top dollar if he delivered a marginal product? Here's the thing. Malzahn came into college football as a self-proclaimed "offensive guru." Oh, his high school offenses lit up the scoreboard and he did okay in his first and only year at Arkansas as OC. Then he went to Tulsa, then to Auburn for 3 years where he had 1 great year and 2 marginal years. Then to Arkansas State for 1 year, and now at Auburn for 7 years. And the product at Auburn has been one of offensive ineptness. Auburn reels in top-ten recruiting classes, including some very talented players at receiver, running back, and quarterback. This season in particular is one that should have been a playoff year for Auburn. We will not have a defense like this one for a long time. If it weren't for Malzahn's incompetence, Auburn would likely be 8-0 right now, Gatewood would be starting, Nix would be redshirting, and Willis would backup. Auburn can keep him on, hoping something changes, but nothing will change. Malzahn is stubborn and he's not as smart as he thinks he is. Unless/until he is fired, Auburn will suffer through disappointment.
The only way Nix makes it to the NFL is if he gets another guy to coach him. The longer he stays under Malzahn, the less likely it is he plays on Sundays.
My idea is this: fire Malzahn, promote Kevin Steele to HC. This would be the best scenario and be least disruptive in terms of recruiting and retaining current players. Steele would likely keep all his defensive assistants and at least some of the offensive assistants, which doesn't happen when you hire an outsider to be HC. Steele has proven he can recruit, that he can assemble quality coordinators, that he can make solid game plans and make in-game adjustments. All he needs is a decent offensive coordinator. That's my ideal scenario at least.
I mean Nick Marshall was slightly better overall in 2014 than in 2013 ... in terms of passing, but that's also only because they forced him to pass more and there was no Tre Mason to plow ahead and get those yards on the ground. It had little to do with Gus "developing" him. Sean White? The kid was good for part of the 2016 season. This was also the season where Auburn had what 4 quarterbacks make an appearance in the Clemson game? Loyalty to a team is fine, but we gotta see the truth for what it is here. Malzahn is a fraud. He's no offensive guru.
He was never given an opportunity to play. What idiot doesn't at least put Gatewood in when it's clear Nix is seeing ghosts out there? At Florida, at LSU ... Gatewood either didn't play at all or was used in only a handful of plays. I don't blame Gatewood one bit. I hope he ends up under a competent coach and does well. Nix ought to transfer too before he suffers further under Malzahn's inept tutelage.
Stubbornness ... correct. His inability to make in-game adjustments, his inability to make mid-season adjustments, not even allowing Joey to come into games when it is clear Nix is lost ... I'm fed up with Malzahn. This year was a lost opportunity. Our defense is national championship-caliber and we have some good talent on offense, but unfortunately its being led by a coach better suited for the JV squad.
The smart move, back in the spring was to go with Gatewood and redshirt Nix with Willis as the backup. That keeps the QB roster deep, gives Nix time and room to grow as a QB and it allows Gatewood to prove himself. Now, it's Nix and ... Cord Sandberg. We have no depth at QB and Nix is seeing ghosts (not good with Georgia and Alabama on the horizon). This is 100% on Malzahn. He needs to go. Today was a total waste of a team. Our defense is National Championship-caliber. But our offense ... it's bad for a JV team. I'm so tired of Malzahn ... always the same excuses, the same mismanagement, the same errors in judgment. Back when his agent was spreading those Arkansas rumors, Auburn would have been wise to call his bluff. "Oh? Arkansas is coming for you? Well ... best of luck, coach." Instead, we're stick with an absurd contract and perpetual mediocrity.