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Could a Dark Horse Win Auburn Coaching Prize?

By on November 30th, 2012 in Football 52 Comments »

Could  Bo Pelini be changing address from Lincoln, Nebraska to Auburn, Alabama in 2013?

With all eyes in the South as well as in South Bend, Indiana fixed on tomorrow’s SEC Championship game, the Auburn Coaching Search Committee is moving forward. An announcement should be forthcoming by this time next week, maybe even by Tuesday or Wednesday.

The night before the big game, most published reports are listing the top five on Auburn’s wish list as:

  1. Jimbo Fisher (Florida State)
  2. Bobby Petrino (former Arkansas HC)
  3. Gus Malzahn (Arkansas State)
  4. Kirby Smart (Alabama DC)
  5. Gary Patterson (TCU) 

Despite ardent denials to the contrary by Louisville’s Charlie Strong, most say he is still in the picture.

But could there be a Dark Horse candidate?  Could there be some one announced next week that is not on anyone’s list?

Often that is the case with college coaching searches; especially if your top choices are not interested in changing jobs or get a big raise to stay put as Les Miles did this week when Arkansas tried to lure him away from LSU.

If a “Dark Horse” candidate were to sneak through to the finish line to edge out the familiar names on the list, who are some names that could do that? .

I mentioned in an earlier article that I wouldn’t be surprise if someone like Butch Davis were to wound up being introduced. He is available and has gone on record that he would like to coach again.

Some have speculated that Miami’s Al Golden might be that guy but other stories have said there is no way he would leave the Hurricanes.

Many have been tossing around Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin’s name (an Alabama native) as a surprise pick. I would put heavy emphasis on the word “surprise” because Sumlin has Johnny Football in his stable as well as a booster full of oil men to outbid as many suitors as necessary.

Big time boosters are also the reason I would put Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy in the “Dark Horse” category. If T. Boon Pickens wants him to stay, I can’t see Auburn winning a bidding war there either.

My thoughts are that if it comes down to a “Dark Horse” candidate winning the job, that it might be someone like North Carolina’s Larry Fedora or Penn State’s Bill O’Brian.

Yes, most eyes in the South are looking toward the Georgia Dome tomorrow night. Yet I can’t ever remember a time when I have been less interested in the SEC Championship game.

My focus and anticipation is on the next seven days … waiting on the Auburn Search Committee’s press conference.


  1. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    I agree with you about the SEC Championship game. I live in Atlanta and I have had several invitations to attend, but I have no interest in the game. There is too much red and crimson in the Georgia Dome area so I will just watch this game with some friends.

    I do believe that we may all be surprised when the new head coach is named. Did anyone hear Chizik’s name mentioned prior to his hire?


    • AUQB77 says:

      I have set back for many years watching the school I love continue and continue to stay at second best in football. In spite of this we won. TWO national championships; no I didn’t miss count…the 2004 team was the best team in the country if you ask the REAL football experts. The 2010 team just got lucky that Superman chose us. Auburn constantly gets unproven assistant coaches and hopes and prays they will workout. They simply don’t understand that to be in the top 5 programs in the country (which every Auburn fan wants us to be ) they have to pay the money and get a proven winning head coach. Patrino has a winning record but does Auburn want the baggage of that deal? I don’t think so…Auburn went through a simular thing with Terry Bowdon. Neither Fishers are coming I don’t think because Jimbo is in his dream job and Jeff ( who I would love to have ) won’t go to college. from pro’s despite his son. The best coach available is a guy that no one is even talking about. Jim Tresal. I have lived in Columbus for 12 years and have had the honor of meeting Jim a couple times and watching him in the community. He has more class and integrety. then 95% of the head coaches and as much as through rest. Auburn people would love him. He took 3 teams to the national championship game in his 10 years at Ohio State. Only Sabine can equal that. Auburn people need to understand that we will lose to Alabama on the field and in recruiting until we find a successful Head coach that can compete with Sabine. Tresal is the only one available that has the resume. I can tell you also that what happen to him at Ohio State was simply the money people with power wanted Myers because they think he can beat SEC teams and Jim lost to the last two in the championship game. What they are going to find out is the SEC is just better!
      Auburn is again at a crossroads: will they continue to get the hope and prayer assistant? Will they get Petrino who, at best, brings issues of personal problems? Or do they finally step up to the plate ( like Alabama finally did ) and pay the money for the guy that will keep us year in and year out in the top 5 programs in the country and a few national championships like we all know Auburn is capable of….Jim Tresal?

  2. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    “Yes, most eyes in the South are looking toward the Georgia Dome tomorrow night. Yet I can’t ever remember a time when I have been less interested in the SEC Championship game.”

    RIGHT!!???!!! Again, listening to WJOX** in my office whilst working…so tired of the SEC Championship talk, but then if I’m a UGA or BAMA fan I would be tired of the coaching carousel talk……I might watch tomorrow, I might not.

    They’ve mentioned many times that today is Bo Jackson’s 50th B’day. If all he wants for his birthday is an awesome head coach for Auburn–we may all be in luck.
    War Eagle!

    **I think that continued listening to WJOX does something to one’s brain. The sooner that this search is finalized, the sooner I can turn off this junk. I think my southern accent is creeping back in and any time a bammer calls in, I automatically picture that person wearing a tide box with toilet paper rolls. Also, that person might not have all their teeth…..nature vs nurture people….

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      ……Just… don’t. I like the Roundtable guys, and I can now tolerate the OD. But if you were listening to Finebaum this afternoon… Geh…..! Their big theme today was how various Mariotts in Atlanta were obtaining restraining orders against “Tammy,” who apparently was going to be staying there for the SEC title game. Wait, what? Isn’t she supposed to be the prototypical Auburn nut-case? Why in hell would she head to the ATL and pay inflated hotel prices to see two teams in red shirts play? Geeeze Louizee!

      …..My excuse today for hearing this crap was that my CD player was auto-ejecting every disc I fed it, for a while. Then I got it running, and enjoyed this:

      • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

        I needed that! Thanks! I find its easier and more productive if I stream WJOX vs keeping my twitter feed open….but there’s a price for that…..

  3. CFH CFH says:

    I hope Jimbo is not at the top of the list. He is 3-5 against ranked teams since being the head coach. FSU has all the talent in the ACC they should be in the BCS championship

  4. TigerintheHass TigerintheHass says:

    BUTCH DAVIS? Please no – we need to distance ourselves from anyone with NCAA violations in their past, whether they are guilty or not. I am sick of Auburn being a punchline for cheating jokes.

  5. CTAuburnfan says:

    As much as I would love to see Bill O’Brien from PSU, it was announced earlier this week that he was going to stay at PSU.

    But like everyone else here … I’m just waiting for this search to be over!

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      That doesn’t always mean anything. Tommy Tuberville said he was staying at Ole miss too, said the only way he would leave there was in a pine box. So, just saying.

  6. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Let’s see if we can learn anything from our past choices… TT was fired on 12/3/2008 and CGC was hired on 12/13/2008. It took roughly 10 days to replace TT. So good news, we should have a coach by next Wednesday.

    Below is the list of candidates that were interested in back in ’08 and their coaching records since ’08:

    Mike Leach 3-9 WSU
    Paul Johnson 40-25 GT
    Will Mushchamp 18-7 UF
    Derek Dooley 32-41 UT
    Bobby Petrino 34-17 Ark
    Chris Peterson 59-5 BSU
    Brian Kelly 51-13 ND
    Todd Graham 32-24 ASU
    Turner Gill 24-37 LU
    Gary Patterson 54-9 TCU

    So it seems to me that either Chris Peterson or Gary Patterson would have been the correct choice back then and would still be the correct answer today. It was my understanding that Patterson wasn’t interested in 2008.

    Instead we hired a 2-10 coach from the Big 12 who at least helped us win a NC. So if we didn’t learn anything since 2008, just pick up the phone and call the coaches hotline and talk to anyone in the WAC, Sunbelt or Conference USA. If you are going to do that, just call Gus…

  7. Priester John says:

    If I was the decision maker at Auburn, first of all I would ask Pat Sullivan to take over as Auburn Athletic Director. He would be a wonderful AD. Then for football coach I would strongly consider, interview and try to hire Coach David Shaw from Stanford. The worst case is we keep Jay Jacobs and hire Petrino.

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      I have been telling my friends for years that Sully would make an awesome AD, and yes I would LOVE to see David Shaw coaching my Auburn Tigers.

  8. restless6 says:

    Si far the plane has only been to Texas and R-Kansas. If they hire Malzahn, it’s Chiz 2.0.

    I hate spread offenses. Too much risk.

    • AUwaterboy AUwaterboy says:

      Well at least that’s one thing you and Coach Chizik agree on.

      When he decided to hold Malzahn’s spread back last year his ship started going down, then when he hated it so much that he moved entirely away from it this year, the ship sunk.

    • DothanTiger DothanTiger says:

      I’m confused.

      You hate Spread offenses but you keep saying you want Petrino.
      Do you have any idea what type of offense Bobby has made his reputation on? – the spread.

  9. restless6 says:

    Patterson or Petrino.

    Bobby can be hired cheaper. Bobby can run a great offense and hire a good DC for what Gary will want.

    • CTAuburnfan says:

      O’Brien can run a good offense, too. He calls the plays on offense and did so quite effectively with PSU this year. All this considering that Matt McGloin is just about as good as Mosely.

  10. restless6 says:

    O’Brien is not coming. Neither is Pete Carroll or Bill Cowher or any other unrealistic coach.

    Petrino is the man.

    • DothanTiger DothanTiger says:

      Why is the man who runs the type offense you hate, the one you keep saying you want?

      • restless6 says:

        Bobby runs a combo offense. I don’t recall Mallett or Wilson doing the meerkat or running regularly from the shotgun.

        • Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

          Petrino won’t even receive a phone call from AU…and anything to the contrary is just rumor…

          • rn4au rn4au says:

            If we really wanted Petrino why don’t we already have him? I mean are’nt we trying to save our recruiting class? I don’t think it’s because Petrino is covered up with work right now…

  11. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    For what opinions are worth I think Auburn is in a good place right now.

    AU is looking at everyone that is relevant.

    What’s that you say?

    AU is looking at some of the best coaches in the game today. AU isn’t side stepping anything.

    I expect that these former AU heros are going to give AU another college try… and be successful. Here are some of the coaches I am hearing:

    1.Jimbo Fisher (Florida State) (Dropping fast)
    2.Bobby Petrino (former Arkansas HC) (Staying even)
    3.Gus Malzahn (Arkansas State) (Dropping fast)
    4.Kirby Smart (Alabama DC) (Staying even)
    5.Gary Patterson (TCU) (On the rise)
    6. Charlie Strong (Louisville) (Staying even)
    7. Jeff Fischer (NFL) (Dropping fast)
    8. Bo Pelini (Nebraska) (On the rise)

    And if you didn’t know… AU is still recruiting.

    I look for a big splash. And big changes at Auburn. There will be some hiccups… but regardless of who AU gets… it will be someone who can compete with Nick Saban.

    The tiger is on the prowl again!

    All is not lost…


  12. MobTownAub says:

    Can I admit something to you guys? After weeks and weeks of supporting Petrino, I’m done. I’m off the bandwagon. I think the division he would cause within the fan base and the current players would be too much to overcome. I also think that he would be so limited due to contract/outside pressures, that he could not truly be himself. Also, with such a controversial hire, how long would we give him to win? If he won 6 games next year, how fierce would the opposition get?

    I like Bobby, I always have. But maybe it’s not the right time or place.

    So who then? Who next? I’m glad to see Bill O Brian catching on. But with his massive buyout, I just don’t see it happening.

    Why not Patterson? Guy has done nothing but win. He runs a 4-2-5 defense, but good coaches are able to adapt. He is a no nonsense guy. That’s what we need.

    I don’t know guys. I’ve been drinking, so maybe my head isn’t on straight, but I’m beginning to think that maybe Petrino just isn’t the answer…

  13. almightytmc1 says:

    Out of everyone metioned the only 2 I can see making the jump are Petrino and (maybe) Malzahn, (and that is heavily dependant on the terms he left on.)
    Malzahn passed on Vanderbilt and they were offering some good money. Then he turned around and went to Arkansas State for a paycut. I beleive it was because he did not want to take a rebuilding job (especially in the SEC of all places.)
    Beuond those two I am in the dark myself. Each of them has a good resume, but each of them is also in a good position. The biggest problem in drawing a good coach is that they will be coming straight into the pressure cooker of the SEC. That means looking at teams like LSU, Bama, aTm, but even on a weak day in the SEC schedule they would be looking at a team like Ole Miss or Miss State. And those guys hot pretty hard and can sneak up on you. This process is going to be interesting to watch.

  14. MyAuburn myauburn says:

    I think it is an even money bet that we will have an announcement today somewhere during the BCS pregame or postgame time. What better way to steal a little thunder from the Turds.

    • mccullars says:

      I think several coaches we’re wanting to interview have games today. I expect interviews to take place over the next several days with an announcement Wednesday or Thursday.

  15. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    There really is no “thinking” to be done on this search. Whoever it is that is the new coach has to deal with and compete with Saban. That measn you have to get the best you possibly can. Gus Malzahn, Kirby Smart, and Jimbo Fisher are not those guys. If they are looking for a new job and willing to listen you have to get the following in order.
    Chip Kelly
    after that I go with Strong or Butch Jones. You have to get somebody hungry, somebody that wants the challenge of taking down Saban.

    Stoops has not impressed me for a LONG time. He’s a caretaker not a coach.

    Petrno is just, no.

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      Totally agree. Watched TCU take on Oklahoma…as per us, the Sooners got lucky. Meanwhile, Patterson and co turned a freshman running back into a quality qb….think of how he could develop an actual qb (cough, Jonathan Wallace, cough). Of course the reason they had to improvise was due to the fact that the starting qb got into ‘legal trouble’. …so there’s that.

  16. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Now to watch the SEC Championship Game. It pains me to say, Go Dawgs!

    But wow that’s painful I wince every time Mark Richt opens his mouth.

  17. kjl131313 says:

    Do not understand why every likes TCU’s coach so much. If he is really that good then why has he not been hired before by a top school. Something had to be off putting to ADs. Plus do you think the 4 2 5 is the best for the SEC? Maybe with our lack of lbs but we cant tackle so does matter
    “The problem with a 4-2-5 has usually been inadequacy against the rush. ”

    Bunch of positives but they finally played with big boys this year and not as good.

  18. MyAuburn myauburn says:

    dont look now but GA is giving the Turds all they want. I think I will do some lurking over on RBR…should be good for a chuckle or two.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      ….Gotta say, my hate for Bama is winning out, here in the waning hours of summer in December. Tom Ritter flags UGA for a tap on McCarron, but ignores a mugging of Murray.

      …..And of course, you KNOW UGA will wilt under pressure.

  19. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Ritter with the payback, rules a ball tipped that wasn’t, UGA gets by with blatant interference. ON the subsequent play, UGA blocks the long FG attempt, and returns it for six against the Tide! Wow, Bama is down 21-10… Heh, heh!

  20. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Pretty dramatic game in the Georgia Dome. With three minutes left, UGA trails by 4. Do or die drive, coming.

  21. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Bama seems to have this one, dang it. Hinging on a bounce call… and you KNOW Bama will get the benefit of the doubt.

  22. restless6 says:

    I hate nothing worse than the Crimson Updykes.

    Clock the ball, Murray!

    Bobo and Grantham are idiots. Richt isn’t much better.

    Go IRISH.

  23. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Bama backs into another MNC game. Way to go UGA, you are who we thought you were, a choke job. Whoever #90 was on Bama’s defense, who leveled Murray, better be suspended for the MNC game, that was way out of line and clearly intentional. Bama has one of the lowest penalty totals in the country cause the ref’s give “St. Nick” the benefit of the doubt. What a joke. Any new AU coach rumors? I was out of the loop yesterday and most of today.

    • Frank Drackman says:

      Ahhh da pwetty boy Murray got bwocked on his itty bitty haid…
      it was after an interception, so Murray was a defensive player, i.e. elgible to be blocked…
      it’s called “Poor Situational Awareness” if one of our players (see, Fairley, Nick) did that
      we’d be high fiving about how tough our players are…
      as far as possible Head Coaches,
      how about Trooper Taylor???? he’s got more BCS titles than the rest of the
      clowns I keep hearing about..


  24. restless6 says:

    Please don’t hire Gus. Those turds are on a whole different level at UAT. There is no way that Gus can out recruit Saban.

    Last night proved that defense and running trumps the spread. Georgia knew what was coming and was helpless.

    I hate those turds, but that was mighty impressive.

    That is what Auburn needs to be. Power running and defense. Get those boys in the weight room, recruit bigger backs, and hire a defensive minded, run it down your throat coach. Recruit smart QBs who can make the reads and manage the game.

  25. restless6 says:

    Did anyone else see that the Auburn folks chose not to go New York? That’s awful q***r.

    • Frank Drackman says:

      Have no idea what your talkin bout’ Willis…
      and you don’t have to *** when you type “q***r” we’re big boys, we
      can take it, just try to use it wittily, i.e.
      “q***r as Ping Pong Cleets”
      “q***r as a Football Bat”
      see, now you try it, it’s fun..


      • restless6 says:

        Frank, there is a gathering of college football folks in NYC going on now. Media says that Auburn search comittee not going.

        This leads me to speculate that the choice has been made. The AU plane flew to Ft. Worth and Jonesboro. That’s Gary and Gus.

        I believe that Kirby Smart will be offered the job today.

  26. restless6 says:

    I like Kirby Smart now. Forget Bobby, hire Kirby.

  27. restless6 says:

    Ditto. GET SMART.

  28. almightytmc1 says:

    Just a humble suggestion.
    Out of everyone I have seen written in this article, I hope it is the Dark Horse that gets the prize. Auburn is still trying to play catch up. So the fans are talking a lot of pie in the sky type hires. Almost all of these coaches had to build what they have got and they are not about to leave it. Unless you have a name like Notre Dame or USC or Texas that is. Plus all of the A-list guys have one thing in common. There is no wizard behind the Curtain. THEY are the man in charge.
    Its only fair, since it is their career that is in jeopardy.
    Mahlzahn is a brilliant coordinator. But he would not make it in the pressure cooker at Auburn. Petrino is a douchebag. Period. Neither is the type that would restore confidence in the coaching at Auburn.
    After pondering it I am starting to think that Auburn needs to find its coach of the future. Just because someone has a hot name out there right now does not mean they are going to fix all of Auburn’s problems. No, not at all. I am thinking a thorough search for a new name. Like Willie Taggart. Someone who is tough and can will the Auburn program into the right direction. It cannot be someone who shows a lot of soft cuddly side. And no, I dont mean a Will Muschamp type either. He can only say “BOOM” so many times and if the results dont come he would be gone from florida quicker than Urban Meyer after a heart flutter.
    I am saying someone that is an x’s and o’s man who is tough as Iron. Someone who wont follow Auburn Tradition, but instead work toward giving Auburn a new fresh direction that is more pointed to where Auburn is going and not where they have been. Chizik was supposed to be that man, but seriously……I dont beleive Chizik ever ran the program without other people sticking thier fingers into it.
    Auburn has a wonderful opportunity here. Next year’s coach will do better than this year’s so that season is pretty much a gimme …. and if he has a toughness the year after next Auburn could be something special. Recruiting and winning does run in cycles. Why not catch the next wave? Nick Saban has a my way….. now get the f**k out of my office approach. And he wins for that reason, not because he politics or tries to assuage the old guard.
    If Auburn wants to compete THAT is the type of coach they will need.

  29. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Bo Pelini just moved from dark horse to no horse after his team gave up 70 pts. to a 5 loss Wisconsin team yesterday.