Photo by Julie Bennett/al.com
Regardless of what happens tonight in Pasadena, Auburn has something very special – once in a lifetime special. It’s something that it must protect with all its might and resources. It’s something that should be priority one for not just the athletic program but the entire institution.
I’m speaking of Gus Malzahn.
Just as Shug Jordan came along at a crossroads for Auburn back in the 1950’s and then Pat Dye nearly 30 years later, Malzahn is unquestionably equipped to take Auburn to the next level and keep it there.
Never in Auburn’s history has a coach been so coveted by others. Whether it be the Cleveland Browns or a program like Texas, those lining up for Malzahn’s services will only grow with time.
From all indications, he’s happy at Auburn; make that “tickled to death.”
He’s already agreed to a new long-term deal with athletic director Jay Jacobs. However, that was before the Browns and big name programs started showing interest. Auburn may want to consider doubling down on its bet.
Some may point to the mistake Jacobs made when extending Gene Chizik’s contract following the 2010 title. It’s a cautionary tale, but make no mistake, Gus Malzahn is no Gene Chizik.
How many suitors came calling for Chizik following Auburn’s win over Oregon. I can recall none. Correct me if I’m wrong. Malzahn is an entirely different animal.
When you look at his drive, work ethic and attention to detail, he reminds you a lot of… Nick Saban. He is clearly not building the program just for now, but more importantly, the long haul. I hate to use that process word, but the two coaches’ tactics are eerily similar.
An advantage Malzahn has over others, including Saban, is his offensive mind and relative youthfulness. Never has Saban’s defenses been as revolutionary as Malzahn’s offense. It’s something that’s caught the attention of more astute college football watchers including ESPN personality Colin Cowherd.
He enraged the Alabama faithful a few weeks back on the Paul Finebaum Radio Show when he suggested that Malzahn could be Saban and Alabama’s undoing.
“I think he’s going to be a nightmare (for Alabama),” Cowherd said of Malzahn. “I am amazed that Alabama fans aren’t concerned about Gus Malzahn.”
“I want all you Alabama fans, who love Finebaum and hate me, to know,” Cowherd said. “Right now, you’re driving around and I’m here to tell you that you’re going to start to lose to Gus Malzahn.”
For that to become a reality, Auburn people must remain on the same page. Not in 40 years have I seen the Auburn Family so together. Of course, that’s easy when you are playing for your second national championship in four years.
To sustain it, Auburn must continue to work together, raising money, improving infrastructure and most importantly investing in Malzahn through good times and bad. Auburn has a game changer now, not unlike Saban seven years ago.
It’s important going forward that it’s managed correctly. In other words, stay out of the way and give the man what he needs to win.
Tonight we embark on another first. Auburn walks into the Rose Bowl, the granddaddy of them all, to play for yet another national championship. We’ve been on this stage before. Now it’s important that we stay there.
See you tonight.
Tags: Auburn blogs, Auburn Football, auburn Tigers, BCS national championship, college football, ESPN, Gus Malzahn, jay coulter, nick saban, paul finebaum, trackem tigers