Don’t blame Auburn fans for getting nervous when its coordinators start doing well. The school has become something of a breeding ground for future Texas coaches (see Gene Chizik and Will Muschamp). With Auburn’s early success, fans have already started wondering aloud what must be done to keep offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn on the Plains following this season.
Never mind that Auburn has yet to beat (or face) a top 25 opponent; when you average nearly 500 yards of offense a game, fans tend to get attached quick. Although no one has heard Malzahn try to freestyle Texas Fight, some fans already are concerned about his departure plans. This is undoubtedly putting the cart before the horse considering the next four weeks involves trips to Knoxville, Fayetteville and Baton Rouge.
What are the chances of Malzahn leaving following this season? Obviously, a lot of factors go into such a decision with success topping the list. He appears to have a solid working relationship with Chizik and the rest of the coaches. All indications are that he’s left alone in running the offense. You really can’t ask more than that from a boss.
Money doesn’t appear to be a problem either. Malzahn has a three year contract that pays him $350,000 annually – that’s $20,000 less than defensive coordinator Ted Roof’s current salary. Both coordinators receive an additional $25,000 payment each year if they are still employed by Auburn for the final game of the regular season and they do not voluntarily resign prior to January 15th. Additionally, Malzahn receives a car allowance equal to five percent of his pay.
So there’s plenty of room for growth financially. Tennessee sets the gold standard for assistant coaching salaries with Lane Kiffin’s father, Monte heading the list at $1.2 million annually as defensive coordinator. Recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron pulls down $650,000 a year and offensive coordinator Jim Chancey collects $380,000 annually.
Auburn will have little trouble coming up with the extra dough needed to keep Malzahn around. The only likely reason for his departure would be a head coaching offer. That sounds a little far fetched at this point considering five seasons ago he was coaching in High School.
Personality may be another issue. While friendly, Malzahn tends to stand back, seemingly content to be in the background. It’s just a hunch, but he strikes me as an offensive wonk, satisfied to dream up offensive schemes for the rest of his career. But the truth is, no one really knows.
If I were a betting man, I’d say he’s here for at least the next several seasons. In this day and age that’s about all you can hope for with a coach.