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A Chance for Malzahn to Get it Right

By on January 16th, 2017 in Football, News 19 Comments »

maxresdefault-1Auburn football just got a whole lot more interesting. With Rhett Lashlee jettisoning to Connecticut, Gus Malzahn has a chance to remake himself and this football program. The test will be whether Malzahn has the discipline to let someone else put their mark on the offense.

As things got tight down the stretch last season, he began inserting himself back into the play-calling duties. Doing so with a new coordinator could prove disastrous as we saw with Gene Chizik. Part of Chizik’s undoing was not being able to remove himself from the daily duties of running the defense.

It’s important that Malzahn not only bring in a good offensive mind but someone who is headstrong and will demand autonomy when putting his plan together. As revolutionary as Gus was early in his career, his offense has evolved little since. Lashlee brought few new ideas to the table because everything he knew came from the head man.

New blood and new ideas combined with the talent on this team can be a game changer.

You have to give Malzahn credit. When your professional life is predicated on being an expert on moving the football, it must be hard to give it up. Mark Richt went through it at Georgia. These coaches find out eventually that it’s hard to run an offense and a football program at the same time.

Let’s hope Gus focuses on winning games and not the press conference when making the hire. Will Muschamp was great and made a big splash at the announcement, but Kevin Steele has been far more effective.

Auburn needs a coordinator who doesn’t view this job as a stepping stone. Being able to keep someone on staff four or five years could move this program back to the top of the SEC.

Far more attention will be given to National Signing Day next month, but the hire Auburn makes in the coming days will be much more important. Malzahn has a chance to break out of the malaise his program has been engulfed in since 2014.

Few coaches get a chance at a do-over this late in their tenure. Malzahn has a chance to make it right. What will it be?

19 Comments

  1. HamiltonAUfan HamiltonAUfan says:

    Good write up. Does anyone know what coaches Gus is looking at to replace Lashlee?

    • dyingculture dyingculture says:

      Nobody named Briles, Spavital just got a job elsewhere, and Chip Lindsey apparently doesnt have enough experience according to Philip Marshall, I think. Helfrich would be good, but he wants to be a head coach so badly he can taste it – and he would pull a Muschamp and jet after one season if he did accept the OC job.

      Malzahn wants a guy with a lot of experience, who shares his philosophy, they say. Someone like Briles, but who isn’t Briles. So that eliminates Drinkwitz too. In fact, almost all of the top named candidates are eliminated.

      So, nobody seems to have a clue who it will be.

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      Don’t know but the guy I would like to see is Oklahoma State’s Mike Yurcich. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.

      • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

        I think there is a chance for Yurcich.

      • warhog 1 warhog 1 says:

        Word is Coach Yurcich is in process of interviewing today! In my estimation, would be great hire. Checks off all the boxes of what we all seem to think we need for our talent and program.

  2. Rayguns says:

    The talk od hiring coach Hand as the OC and bringing in a QB coach worries me because it likely means more of the same. I’m hopeful Gus will look for an OC whose philosophy lies outide of his strong run it every down tendency. A move like that would likely signal he is looking for more balance for the offense. The longer this hire takes the more it looks like coach Hand will be the OC.

  3. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Spavital had Johnny Football, and couldn’t finish in the top half of the SEC West, at TAMU.

  4. tigrrr tigrrr says:

    Get Lincoln Reilly from Oklahoma.

  5. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    This is going to be a truly intriguing hire. If Malzahn hires someone from the Malzahn tree, and the offense struggles, there will be immediate and intense heat on him for making a safe choice and not doing whats best for the program. It will get him that much closer to the unemployment lottery that awaits him, should he be fired, which is almost certain unless he beats UGA and Bama next year or goes 10-2. The schedule is a beast next year and is not Malzahns friend, with 5 road games including the 2nd week at Clemson and 3 in a row in Oct/Nov of LSU, Arky and A&M! Yikes!

    If I was Malzahn, I would roll the dice and do what I could to bring in Mark Helfrich, the now former Oregon coach. Helfrich has a excellent record of success as a coordinator and QB developer, under the tutelage of Chip Kelly. Helfrich would understand better than anyone what kind of situation Malzahn is in and should also welcome a return to the role where he has a vast array of weapons at his disposal. He also would have the bonafides and the stroke to be able to keep Malzahn from tinkering with his schemes and ideas. He may be more than Jacobs wants to spend on an OC but if the results are there, the gamble pays for itself. Both Jacobs and Malzahn are gone if the offense flounders anyway, so going with the most qualified option is always the best option. Hey, it worked for Saban!

    The big question of course is, does Malzahn have the discipline to relinquish control to someone he doesn't have a history with, in what is unquestionably his make or break year?

    I personally don't think he does, but it may not be up to him at this point, since I am willing to lay money on the fact that Jacobs told him he needed to make a change at OC but was willing to let Lashlee find an opportunity first instead of firing him out right. Nobody goes to the American conference from the SEC….for a pay cut no less….willingly. If Rhett had left of his own volition, I'm sure Herb Hand would have been promoted already, since he was considered the defacto Co-OC already. If Hand does get promoted, it will be after a rigorous search that bears no fruit and will be in a couple of weeks. I wouldn't expect to hear much in terms of candidates being pursued until one is named the OC, since both Jacobs and Malzahn do not want any public embarrassment with their own jobs on the line.

  6. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    Annnnd this just in ……two days ago…..Helfrich hired at Cal.

    That blows.

    • dabble says:

      I don’t know. I think a few of the candidates mentioned are not really candidates in earnest.
      there are prolly one or two we don’t know of.
      we’ll find out about gus real soon. should be fun. hoping for winning & fun. but all fun is good. not UAlabama clown college fun. but regular people fun.

  7. AUTiger57 says:

    Col, Cal hired defensive coordinator from Wisconsin, Justin Wilcox. We could still get Helfrich, maybe. WDE

    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      Damn internets with their fake news!! LOL!
      I must have read a story from someone that jumped the gun.

  8. JRoweMDN says:

    Helfrich is not my choice as he wants to be a HC so no continuity, lost the team at Oregon, rumors about lack of discipline and conditioning, under Kelly not really the play caller, more like Kelly’s Lashlee to me.

    I like Lindsey for what he did at So Miss, but hard to judge with the ASU injuries he had to deal with this year if he can continue. I do like that he could come in and be here for longer and we could have continuity.

    Yurcic does not stand out to me and it appears the OSU crowd is not enamored with him either.

  9. tigrrr tigrrr says:

    Lincoln Reilly. Take the Brinks truck to Oklahoma and bring him back. If Malzahn gets in his way, fire Malzahn and move LR to HC. A plan with a built in backup.

  10. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Even the Brinks truck is often not enough to keep a coordinator, if the head coach meddles too much. Gus Malzahn himself is an example. He took a pay cut in 2011, to go to Arkansas State and get away from Gene Chizik slowing down his offense.

  11. […] Closely related to recruiting is the Tigers search for a new offensive coordinator. As Jay Coulter wrote in his Monday column, “Far more attention will be given to National Signing Day, but the offensive coordinator hire Auburn makes will be much more important.” […]