OK Gus…..I Concede—You Get Another Year
Those of you that know me on this site know that I’ve been here for years and for the last 3 or 4 I have not been a fan of Gus Malzhan. Obviously, the last few weeks have cooled my jets a bit. What can I say? I am yelling excitedly at the TV once again! I am emotionally invested again! I am once again clinging onto the rear bumper of the Gus Bus. In some far away universe where my opinion actually matters, he has most assuredly earned himself another year or two.
Admittedly, after the LSU game, I was ready to go to jail for being the first man to everone to death with his own visor. (How’s that for emotionally invested? Mike, you hypocrite!) I think even some of the most unflappable sunshine pumpers were. It had gotten to the point to where Auburn football wasn’t fun anymore. When I watched a game (on the rare occasion I could actually make it through one without turning off the TV in numb disgust, just not even caring), I was simply waiting for our coaching staff to find yet another way to lose the game. Gus won most of the games against the bad teams, but against anybody good, we simply had no chance. It was even more frustrating watching our recruiting get stacked with 4-and 5-star players every year, landing one top 10 recruiting class after another, only to watch them fail miserably on the field. I was watching a multimillion dollar coach run the same exact dive play 17 times in a row up the middle against LSU on first down, while blowing a 20-point lead in a game where a chimpanzee with a dart board could have called plays better. I was watching a brilliantly coached national top 10 defense play its butt off every week, only to have a horribly planned offense blow the game from sheer stupidity. I was ready to give up on Auburn football forever until the scratchy-voiced, visor-headed moron was gone.
Then a funny thing happened. I’m not exactly sure what it was, but it was like night and day. A switch got thrown. Something happened so I wasn’t wanting to throw things at the TV due to the play calling. It got better. WAY better. I’m not privy to the inner goings on of the Auburn coaching staff, but all of a sudden it became more cerebral and less predictable. Then, precisely what everyone has been saying for the last couple of years was confirmed: Auburn is a team loaded with talent. All it needed was for the coaches not to be idiots. It started last year with Kevin Steele and the defense, and later this year the offense caught up. I honestly don’t know if Gus had some kind of epiphany, or if someone higher up than him told him if he doesn’t get it together, he’s gone, but he seemed to loosen the straps a little bit and delegate more to his staff.
Auburn has victimized two number 1 teams in three weeks. The Tigers didn’t just win the games, they beat the living crap out of Georgia, and beat the Gumps by double digits. One could argue that the Bama game wasn’t nearly as close as the score. Between the constant holding (which is a Bammer staple), the absolute gift it got with the 12-man call, the noncall on its first touchdown play with a full-on two-handed push off by the receiver, Bama got break after break and still couldn’t win. Auburn was just better, plain and simple. “Mr. Clutch” Jalen Hurts was a paper tiger who couldn’t get it done at the end. The Gumps were simply outplayed in every aspect of the game.
Even in victory, I saw some of the same old Gus stupidity. After 4 straight scoring drives, he completely abandoned what was working in favor of the old “run it up the middle 3 times and punt” conservative offense. “Oh, but we still won the game,” you say. That kind of thinking is EXACTLY what cost us the LSU game. I’m sick of that thinking. Would we still have won that game had Bama not continued stepping on their own (insert clever euphemism for male genitalia here)? Luckily we’ll never know. Gus still has more problems: we’ve never seen him recruit and develop a quarterback. I thought he was a guru. Where is that? Every time he has won, he has won with a highly touted, experienced transfer guy. Even when Franklin III showed up, Gus handcuffed him to where he could do nothing! Go watch some JUCO footage of Franklin. He was making phenomenal throws! I don’t think Franklin showed up at Auburn and all of a sudden developed some kind of strange amnesia where he completely forgot how to throw a football.
All of these issues, save the QB development issue, and the stuff that was just flat out next level stupid (think musical QB’s in the Clemson game), point to one thing: Gus is constantly coaching scared. He’s not coaching to win, he’s coaching not to lose. That is the quickest way to lose football games that should be won. I don’t want that coach. I want a Mike Singletary or a Mike Ditka who goes out there and punches them in the mouth. If we lose, we lose. But we are damn sure going to go down swinging. I can live with losing like that. I can say, “Hey, we gave it our all, they just beat us.” I can’t live with giving away games we should win because we have a head coach who is too scared to get in there and finish the job.
Against Georgia, that didn’t happen. Gus stepped on the dawgs’ throat while they were down and beat the tar out of them. He never stopped trying to score. Against Bama, he got scared again. Run it up the middle and punt. Don’t lose! There is simply no way to put into words how much I hate that mentality in the game of football. Had Bama not been incompetent, it would have been LSU 2.0.
Wake up Gus. You’ve earned another year. Next week you’ve got a Georgia team that was victimized and humiliated 2 weeks ago. It will be out for blood. It will be ready to play. And it will be ready to step on your throat. Step on theirs harder. Wreck them. Ruin them. And above all, DON’T STOP. I guarantee they won’t.
But…….whatever happens, see you next year Gus. Let’s see how many more years you can earn on the Plains.