They aren't going to fire him this year. The buyout is too steep. Plus, with everything going on, it just makes sense to suck up another disappointing season. However, mediocrity will eventually erode all the "good" things Malzahn has done. This is going to pan out in recruiting and seeing committed players de-committing. And they're not going to decommit because they're worried Malzahn might be leaving, they're decommitting because they don't want their talents squandered in a team that averages 4 losses a season.
When fans call for Gus to be fired they aren't being trolls. That's not what a troll is. Our O-line has been a weak spot for years and that goes back to recruiting. Gus spends all his time chasing 5-star receivers and other skill players while neglecting the guys upfront. Then there's QB development ... which has been horrible. Let me remind you of one thing: Bo Nix was a 4 or 5 star recruit. Mac Jones was a 3 star recruit. Who has shown more growth, Jones or Nix? You're insane if you say Nix. Same with Stidham, same with Sean White, same with Jeremy Johnson, same with Nick Marshall. Gus Malzahn made his name by being an "offensive guru." And yet, the offense has only gotten worse under his leadership. We're 7 years into his tenure ... and there is absolutely no reason to believe things will ever get better. As for your excuses ... NO team had spring practice. Everyone came into this season with exactly the same amount of preparation time. There is no new playbook for them to learn--because you're naive if you think Chad Morris (a guy who was fired after going winless at Arkansas and had no prospects) is actually in charge of the offense. It's Malzahn's show no matter what he says in the press conferences. Auburn is as high as Malzahn will ever go. He's not going off to the NFL, he's not going to a bigger P-5 program. Once he's done at Auburn, you'll see him as a coordinator somewhere, or at best, as a coach of a G-5 program. That's not being a troll, that's being factual.
The problem at Auburn continues to be the offense's inability to consistently perform. And that problem isn't due to a lack of good receivers or running backs or even quarterbacks ... it is the line. Look at the offensive line this year: it's a collection of walk-ons, graduate transfers from smaller programs, or 2 or 3 star players. The O-line has been a source for weakness for a long time now ... and that falls on bad recruiting. Yes, it is fun to reel in a 5-star receiver (only to see that guy leave the program a year or two later), but until Auburn starts taking the 0-line seriously, our offense is going to suck.
Now now everyone, he's looking for a pat on the back (and hoping a feminist will go on a dat with him now).
Malzahn isn't getting it done at Auburn. It's a shame Auburn is stuck with him or has to pay an exorbitant buyout. "But but but, who will Auburn get??" A better question is: where would Malzahn go after Auburn. Who would hire him? Not the NFL. Not a big name P5 school. Auburn is his peak. After Auburn, he'll likely be coaching at a low-tier P5 school or some G5 program.
Remember when there were those rumors about Gus going to Malzahn? If only that had happened instead of Morris coming to Auburn. This is turning out to be the worst Auburn offense since 2012.
1. The sports media seems oblivious to the fact that Malzahn is all smoke and mirrors. He isn't an offensive guru. He's got one playbook that involves a lot of misdirection and movement ... but once you see the gametape, you pretty much know what to expect. 2. Usually when a new offensive coordinator comes in, you see something different, something that changes from the previous year. In the 7 years Malzahn has been head coach, the offense is exactly the same. That's 7 years and 3 offensive coordinators ... absolutely the same. That's because the OC is just a puppet, and I don't care what they say in the press conferences. Malzahn runs the offense. He has to because ... see the point above. He still thinks he's a master offensive mind, and he's too stubborn to change his ways. 3. Malzahn has neglected the trenches. He focuses on flashy players who can make "explosive plays" assuming the guys up front will push just enough to make it happen. You aren't going to have very many explosive plays with a line made up of 2 and 3 star recruits ... or walkons, which is what we have now. 4. Nix probably would do well under better tutelage. Unfortunately, for him, he came to Auburn. Chad Morris isn't the QB whisperer and any QB who stays under Malzahn for too long regresses. 5. Auburn is as high as Mazlahn will ever go. He won't go off to the NFL ... they ain't calling. He won't go off to a "bigger" P5 program. They ain't calling. So when Auburn and Malzahn part ways, you can expect to see him go to a G5 program or a very low P5 program (think something like Wake Forest or Kansas or Illinois).
Auburn is not a playoff contender. You don't make it to the playoffs with an offensive line cobbled together with 2 and 3 star (or even walk-on) players. Gus has neglected recruiting in the trenches, hoping his flashy recruits will make enough "explosive plays" for the o-line to not matter. He's wrong. Auburn will lose a few more games before the ends of the season. I could see losses to: Ole Miss, LSU, Bama, and Texas A&M.
LSU isn't looking so hot anymore, so that win to start the season also isn't looking so great. Of course, Miss State was in bad shape before Leach got there, but the Air Raid is a one-dimensional offense ... it might work in some places, but against well-coached defenses, it simply will be stifled.
Auburn might win but it won't be pretty. Different year, different OC, but same old Gus Offense....
I'm not interested enough to do the research, but it seems to me that Malzahn has neglected recruiting and building the offensive line, opting instead to focus on flashy players (quarterbacks, receivers, running backs) because he still holds to this belief that his "hurry up no huddle" approach will ultimately wear down the defenses. Our O-line play these past few years has been atrocious. It won't matter who you put in at QB ... nobody can run this offense when the O-line is that porous. At any rate, consider this: when other teams bring in new offensive coordinators, you usually see something change, you see some improvement. Not at Auburn under Malzahn. It's the same thing year after year.
For me, it's the totally unpredictable nature of Auburn under Malzahn. It's the inconsistency from one season to the next, hell, even from one game to the next. Yes, he has maintained Auburn as a competitive team since 2013, but he's also squandered so many opportunities, and the revolving door at the quarterback position since Nick Marshall left has been troubling to watch. The inability, it seems to develop quarterbacks as well as the inability to find an offensive identity makes you wonder what he actually does. It's no secret that the last several seasons, it has been the defense that really won games for Auburn, not the offense. And Malzahn built his reputation on being an offensive guru .... It's probably not going to be fair to judge Chad Morris or Malzahn on this upcoming season regardless of what happens, but I'm skeptical that Auburn takes a step forward offensively while Malzahn remains involved. He's too stubborn to see that the gimmick offense doesn't work long-term. But here's the real truth: Auburn is Malzahn's ceiling. He's not NFL material. No other program "better" than Auburn wants him. Should Auburn and Malzahn part ways, he might go to another P5 school, but it will be a lower-tier program, like a NC State or Washington State.
I don't get the whole "include all teams even if they aren't playing" idea. There's no point to that. All it does is make it that much harder for unranked teams that ARE playing to climb up in the polls if they have a good year.
In the past decade, Auburn and LSU have each won the same number of championships, have the same number of SEC championships, and the same number of Heisman winners. Who is "elite" is always going to be subjective, but if elite is "best teams" then Auburn has certainly gotten there, Auburn has played in two national championships and won one of them since 2010 (and I'm using 2010 because ten years is "recent" history). Auburn's done better in that category than every other team except for Alabama and LSU. Let that sink in. Not Georgia, not Florida, not Tennessee ... no one else. So, if you want to look at teams that have risen to the task of proving to be the best team in the country ... then yes, Auburn can be counted among SEC elite. Of course things change in college football (just look at a so-called blue-blood SEC team like Tennessee).
Could there be an opt-out from SEC players similar to the Pac-12? One concession would help counter that
It would just be best to cancel the season at this point. If MLB can't even make it work, what chance is there for college football to succeed? Besides, too many players have been infected by the disease of cultural marxism.
IF there is a season, I think Auburn's defense will be just fine. Steele has proven he can consistently deliver a quality squad regardless of who he has. He's done really well recruiting year after year. He also kept rotating guys in and out of the formations, so while we do lose a lot of starters ... the guys stepping in aren't exactly inexperienced. As with any team, it takes both offense and defense to win. If the offense can stay on the field and score points, that makes it much easier for the defense. If, however, Auburn sees a lot of 3-and-outs and the defense has to slog it out all game long, then yeah, they will get worn down.
The stats are deceiving--last year's offensive line was porous. Nix had to throw the ball away a lot, or he had to dump the pass off to a back or a receiver out in the flat for like 2 yards. If Auburn had had spring practice, I'd say the new offensive line will be an improvement, but without that amount of time to practice together, I think it's a wash. Nix should ... should improve, but see above about the O-line. Also, I'm not sold on Chad Morris yet. And Malzahn isn't exactly an offensive guru anymore, is he? If there is football--I'm betting there isn't--I think Auburn has marginal improvement on the offense but still finishes 9-3 or probably 8-4. The schedule isn't easy by any means. Auburn should start 4-0, but then it gets tricky with Kentucky, UGA, and Texas A&M. I think Auburn drops 1 or possibly 2 of those games ... probably UGA and Texas A&M, but don't be shocked to see them upset at home against the Wildcats as they are looking ahead. Then they have 3 winnable games against Miss State, Arkansas, and UMass. Then they have LSU and Bama ... and I chalk those up as losses. So I think Auburn probably finishes 8-4 at best.
Our offensive line can only get better after that group departed. They weren't coordinated, didn't get their blocks, and honestly, they did let a lot of pressure get to Nix despite the stats listed above.
Steele is the right choice for number 1. He's consistently recruited quality players for defense. People seem to forget how horrible Auburn's defense was prior to Will Muschamp's single season. Steele has solidified that side of the ball. And he's done it with an atrocious offense and a tough slate of opponents.
In DC, they just tore down and burned the statue to Albert Pike because of racism or something... Pike was an advocate for Native Americans in a time when Native Americans didn't have many friends. He argued their cases in court ... and he sided with the Confederacy because he thought the CSA would treat them better than the Union had. But he's a racist apparently.... Meanwhile, in Portland, they tore down and burned a statue to Washington ... but they left the statue to Lenin alone. That right there tells you all you need to know about what's actually going on in our country right now.
You mention something that is often over-looked. That 2010 Auburn team wasn't very talented as evidenced by the lack of NFL drafts in the coming years. Without Cam Newton, the 2010 team probably would have gone 8-5 with a close bowl win over a marginal Big-10 team or something (maybe we could have beaten Northwestern 3 years in a row). To me, that tells you how special Newton really was. But, nobody ... absolutely nobody expected anything from 2013 Auburn. You don't go 0-8 in conference play and 3-9 in total play, have your entire coaching staff fired, break in a quarterback, along with several new position players ... and then go on to be 13 seconds away from a National Title. So, I'd go for 3013 Auburn as the biggest surprise team.
We had Ted Roof and the infamous "bend but don't break defense" back then. If we'd had even half the talent on defense then that we do now, we would have throttled FSU.
I watched that game with a friend of mine who is a Mizzou fan (I'm an Auburn fan) and it was a very entertaining game. I wouldn't ever say we blew out Mizzou. Either team could have surged in the 4th quarter and won it.
Johnson did well as a backup to Nick Marshall in 2014. He seemed to be a guy who could come in and run the offense. But ... he just froze up. I think the pre-season hype got to him. He lost his edge and when the throws weren't there, he'd sort of hang out in the pocket. Or if he had to run, he looked really shaky. Feel bad for him.
Who's to say your 4 contenders will be contending for anything by the end of the decade ... or even next year for that matter?
Auburn's offense is a mess and the addition of Chad Morris won't fix that. I'm picking Kentucky as an upset favorite (and the start a 3-game skid). Auburn finishes 7-5. We have too many question marks on offense and our defense, while still good, won't have the endurance to keep Auburn in the games when the offense can't even figure out what it is supposed to be doing.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Auburn drop the game against Kentucky as the team is looking ahead to Georgia ... and then lose at Georgia as well. That won't be the tipping point. We lost to Tennessee last year after all.
You make a good point about multi-season quarterbacks deserving more consideration because they had to live up to the hype, deal with defenses with more time to prepare, etc. The flip side of the multi-season player is that the quarterback also has extra time to develop, to study film of defenses, to learn the system, etc. I still believe that a look at the team as a whole matters more. Florida was a powerhouse with or without Tebow. They won a title with Chris Leak and Tebow as the backup. In my mind, the two best quarterbacks in the SEC's history are Newton and Burrow. Honestly, flip a coin on that one. Yes, Burrow set records, but 2010 Auburn was a bunch of nobodies. Auburn in 2010 without Newton was at best an 8-4 team ... because that's what they were the year before and year after Newton. Auburn was also 2 years removed from going 5-7 and were 2 years away from going 3-9. LSU is a most solid program now than Auburn was then. Don't buy it? Take a look at the 2011 draft and see how many (few) Auburn players went. It was Newton, DE Nick Fairly both in the 1st round and then ... .... ...... DT Zach Clayton and OT Lee Ziemba all the way down in the 7th round. Compare that to LSU's latest draft where they beat Auburn entire 2010 draft class at 4 players just in the first round (with 5 players) and had 14 total drafted. You can't tell me Burrow didn't benefit from the knowledge that the defense was going to get things done, or that his receivers were top-notch, or that the ground game was going to pick up those yards. I mean, consider this: in 2010, Auburn was down 24-0 to Alabama. Cam Newton won that game. Without Cam Newton, I seriously doubt Auburn even comes close to making the game competitive. Burrow never had that sort of moment. LSU owned every game they were in start to finish. Oh, some of the games were competitive, but Burrow never pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat like Newton did. And I think if you were to plug Newton into LSU's situation last year, we would have gotten the same result ... undefeated LSU with a record-setting QB. That's no offense to Burrow. Again, both he and Newton had remarkable seasons.
Yeah, I think Bama probably would have won a title that year. Auburn should have won. Malzahn lost the game more than Fisher won it. You don't go conservative when you are crushing your opponent. And that's what Malzahn did ... he started going for safe field goals instead of touchdowns all the while Auburns "bend but don't break" defense was giving up touchdowns.
Loosing the offensive line isn't that big of a hit ... did you see our offensive line play last year? That squad was terrible. Zero cohesion. I'm not saying offensive line play will be better this year ... only there won't be a drop off because it was already bad. On the defense, I don't think the dropoff will be as huge as these writers think it is. Yes, we lost some good players, but it's not like they were the ONLY players worth anything on the defense. Steele has consistently recruited quality players for years now. In fact, our most recent recruiting class is loaded with a bunch of 4 star defensive players ... and that's how it has been really since Muschamp. So yes, losing Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson (among a few others) will be felt, it won't be felt that much. The guys moving into the starter roles for Brown and others have a lot of experience already. All that to say, I think our defense will, once again, be our strength. Our offense will be atrocious as usual. I'm not buying the hype of UNC yet. I think Auburn wins that one. The games Auburn probably will lose are: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and pick one of the following: Miss State, Kentucky, Texas A&M. I think 8-4 is our ceiling. We possibly do worse, but we won't do better.