Malzahn Doubles Down on Recruiting
We may never know why assistant coach Scott Fountain was shown the door by Gus Malzahn. Coming off one of the best recruiting jobs of his career, Fountain was ceremonially dumped last week to make room for former Memphis coach Larry Porter.
Porter is regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country and is expected to help Malzahn close the gap with other SEC programs. Despite ranking ninth in this year’s 247 Sports recruiting list, Auburn was fourth overall in the SEC. Clearly, Malzahn is looking to move higher.
Despite five-straight top 10 recruiting finishes, the results have not translated to the field. Porter will be coaching tight ends, a position that’s somewhat foreign to him. He’s spent the past several years at North Carolina coaching running backs and special teams, a job that will continue to be run by Tim Horton.
The move begs the question: Does Malzahn put more of an emphasis on recruiting than coaching? There’s no arguing he has been among the nation’s best when bringing in talent. But recent on-field performance leaves a lot to be desired.
In few cases have the recruiting stars lived up to on-field performance for Malzahn. No one is suggesting Porter can’t coach. The question is, can he coach tight ends, something he’s only done sporadically over the years? Similar questions have been raised about Kodi Burns and his relative youth and experience coaching wide receivers.
Player development will be something closely watched this year, considering all the talent on Auburn’s campus. The move is clearly a gamble on Malzahn’s part. He now has his players and his coaches on staff. There’s no more wiggle room. Talent can’t win alone.
Gus has shown he can bring them in. Now it’s time to find out if he can coach them and win. Porter coaching a new position in the SEC is cause for concern.