Gus Malzahn may be the most popular coach in Auburn history – right now. The same could be said for Gene Chizik back in the summer of 2011. Like then, it’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting to lock Malzahn up for the long-term following the most exciting season in Auburn history.
What if he fails? It’s hard to fathom something like that happening after the greatest turnaround in college football history. But, what if?
Auburn officials have clearly decided not to let their minds go there after agreeing on a new contract for Malzahn that will put them on the hook for more than $11 million should things go south this season.
If he takes the Chizik path and crashes two seasons from now, Auburn is on the hook for nearly $7 million, about what they gave the former coach to disappear and pose for an occasional prom picture.
Many argued this week that Jay Jacobs and Company have yet to learn their lesson following expensive divorces with both Chizik and Tommy Tuberville.
This time things feel different.
Any school runs a risk when they pay a coach $4 million a year and promise him the moon if they fall out of love. They all do it. But Malzahn is different because the market says so. He’s widely regarded as the most innovative offensive mind in the college game today and that comes with a premium.
NFL clubs have already shown interest. A few more seasons like last and this contract will be chump change anyway. Besides, Malzahn and his personality along with his blue collar work ethic fit Auburn like a glove.
SEC defenses may figure out Malzahn in the near future, but I doubt it. Anybody that gets to the office before 4 a.m. will be hard to beat. Maybe I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, but this guy has the chance to define college football for a long time.
He may be that one in a million guy that’s worth every penny to keep in orange and blue. Let the naysayers live in the past. Auburn just doubled down and it’s right in every way.
Wait and see.
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