A Big Week for Auburn Football
Last week felt darn good. New Year’s is always fun and turning the clock over brings new optimism; but more importantly, it was Auburn’s first good week in a year.
There was actually positive news coming from the football program; and for the Auburn faithful, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Maybe the long winter is drawing to a close – even if it is early January.
While Tiger fans have celebrated heralded recruiting classes for more than four years, not one of them compares in importance to the moves Gus Malzahn has made in recent days. He didn’t just bring in a few great coaches; he brought in a team of all-stars.
Most impressive, was how methodical he was in his search and despite some public criticism for the time it took, Malzahn never wavered from his plan. This kind of patience should serve him well down the road.
Anytime there’s a disastrous season like this one, there’s fallout among the faithful. Many Auburn people remain dissatisfied with the overall direction of the athletic program and particularly Jay Jacobs.
Malzahn’s hiring has brought a calming effect to campus. He’s clearly taken the reins and gone about building this staff his way. What can’t be underestimated in these moves is the return of Rodney Garner and Dameyune Craig to Auburn.
Nothing unifies a fanbase like the return of two former stars who happen to be damn good football coaches. Over the weekend, Tiger Rags began selling retro Dameyune Craig jersey t-shirts. My guess is, they’ll sell thousands.
Now the task turns to recruiting.
Despite being in a freefall since October, surprisingly, Auburn sits in pretty good shape. They currently rank 18th according to 247 Sports. Malzahn has wisely targeted a number of JUCO players who will help close the gap quicker and even some blue chips are starting to take a second look at Auburn.
A source close to Reuben Foster says the heralded high school linebacker has Auburn back at the top of his list. Then again, this is a kid who changes his mind daily, so take the news with a grain of salt. Still, it’s going to be hard to outrun that massive AU tattoo on his arm.
Garner’s reputation as a recruiter is well known, considering Auburn competes with Georgia often for the same talent. What’s less known is how talented Craig is on the recruiting trail. Word of his hire has drawn rave reviews from Auburn recruits.
“I’m speechless. I’ve know Coach Craig for a while. He’s a great guy and a cool guy to be around,” said 4-star Auburn commitment Jason Smith talking to Auburn Undercover.
“He’s a man of his word and just somebody you would like to have as a coach. That’s another great hire that Coach Malzahn is bringing in. He’s played quarterback on the college level and knows the game of football. I think Auburn is on the rise. I really like the coaches he’s bringing in.”
Malzahn and staff likely won’t get all the ones they want this year, but things should return to normal next year. Best of all, he’s brought in a staff who not only can recruit, but coach.
That was a key ingredient missing with the last staff.