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Outlining the next Auburn Head Coach

By on December 18th, 2020 in Football 24 Comments »

So we’re back in the hunt for a new head football coach. Based upon the common complaints I’ve heard from the Auburn fan base over the years, I thought I’d list the criteria for a successful Auburn coach, so we could identify the best choice out of the considerable number of candidates out there.

What I believe the next Auburn coach should be:

  • An innovative offensive-minded coach with a new scheme who can take a poorly recruited Auburn team and immediately compete for a Southeastern Conference or National Championship in his first year
  • A winner. Someone who has a history of winning seasons for his entire time as a collegiate head coach.
  •  Someone with at least a decade of coaching at the collegiate level competitively, preferably in the Southeastern Conference,
  • Someone who has a history of at least one win over a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team as a coordinator. Even better if he’s got at least two in the same situation as a head coach.
  • An honorable, scandal-free team administrator who can develop student athletes not only as players but as individuals in their student and future careers. Someone whom the players all seem to admire, work hard for and emulate in work ethic, social acumen and support for Auburn.
  • A no-nonsense discipline-minded coach who doesn’t tolerate bad behavior, quickly acts in instances of on- or off-field shenanigans and isn’t afraid to dismiss a bad egg, no matter what his contribution to the team is.
  • Someone who values input from former Auburn players and readily involves them on his staff as both assistants and position coaches.
  • Someone who unquestionably supports other sports programs of the University, the teams, athletes and coaches with his time, effort and attendance.
  • An individual with class, who never seems to make foolish or crass statements publicly, never denigrates efforts of opposing players, teams, coaches or is ever found losing his temper anywhere near a media microphone. A fair and stoic professional both in public and in his personal life.

Know anyone who fits that description?

I do. He was just fired as the coach of a major Southeastern Conference team and is now on the market for a head coaching position.

The lesson here is you normally don’t truly value what you have until you’re forced to immediately try to find something better. For all the complaints I’ve heard about Gus Malzahn over the years, I’ve haven’t found many other active coaches in the entire NCAA who meet the criteria listed above.

In fact, most candidates I’ve heard mentioned in the whirlwind of media attention since last Sunday aren’t even close. This entire episode in our history seems to be nothing more than a money-making scheme for Jimmy Sexton, either directly for the new coach hired or indirectly for the candidates identified who stay with their existing teams under newly negotiated contracts.

So. as I started writing for this blog so long ago in 2012 at the last coaching change (http://trackemtigers.com/for-love-of-the-game/), I feel this is the best time for me to close my time writing for this terrific website of TrackEm Tigers. My commitments to other facets of my life have impacted my time to write, and I feel this is the proper time for me to gracefully bow out.

Over the last eight years, I have valued each and every opportunity to write about the team we all love, especially in the company of talented and like-minded writers who both cheer and support Auburn, its athletes and its teams throughout the years with deep and heartfelt devotion. I wish them and the readers of this site all the best the future has to offer. Thank you for your support for this site and, of course, Auburn University,

War Eagle my friends and farewell,

Pat Sullivan (Sullivan013)

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24 Comments

  1. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..You will be missed, Pat. You will be missed.

  2. WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

    Thanks Sully for another great article. I will miss following your column.

  3. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    It’s been a privilege working with you. Best of luck.

  4. Hate to see you go Sullivan but can certainly understand. Thanks for all the hard work you put into giving us such great analysis every week.

  5. friedca friedca says:

    Your analysis of the stats after each game is one of the best I’ve ever seen, online or offline. Thank you for providing those game after game.

  6. Orangeblood says:

    Rule number one;
    don’t make decisions when you’re discouraged, depressed, disoriented because of somebody else’s moronic actions, or in the mornings within 30 minutes when you get up.

    Your articles have been the best ones I’ve read here.

    “Terrible website”?
    What are you thinking.
    Is that your emotions talking?
    I can tell by your writings, that you love generating your opinion here.

    I think this is one of the best sites for Auburn tiger fans there is. Even though I don’t contribute often.

    Regarding Malzahn, I agree with everything you wrote. And I also would be quick to defend him. Even preferred to give him another year. So that the buy out is not so big and Auburn University don’t look like it’s squandering money….

    But, hold up on that wash down my friend, 20 million dollars ain’t a lot of money to Auburn University. plus it ain’t all paid at once. They may not pay it if Malzahn takes another head coaching job somewhere else.

    Furthermore, I didn’t get to review that contract, but it may have had some kind of escape clause, if Gus lost as many as four SEC games, then the buyouts not as much.
    Hence the ax given to the roots the day after the season. There may have been some kind of loophole there for the AD and president to slip through.

    The fact is Gus secured a fattened contract because he beat Georgia and Alabama when they were ranked number one….by Leath.

    The embarrassment be not the fact that he’s been fired and will be giving buyout money. It’s the fact that he was given that kind of contract in the first place, when not being a coach who won a national championship! Heck, he hasn’t even made the CFP!

    Now back to justification.
    Malzahn was performing pretty good as a coach. Yet……Face it, he was not a perpetual 10 or 11 wins a year kind of coach. How many undefeated seasons do you really think Malzahn would accomplish in the next 5 years?

    Other coaches had figured out his high school offense. Orgeron even said that they recognized a tendency in his play-calling. I myself am sick of the playbook, and all the relentless throws to the outside of the numbers,
    or receivers running useless jet sweeps behind the line of scrimmage. Our players was running on the average 8 to 10 yards, behind the line of scrimmage, every play even though not handling the ball.

    Malzahn did not have a competent SEC capable throwing offense. He never utilized the tight end. Which is an staple in an SEC offense. Lindsay was brought in to help the passing offense. The passing playbook has taken a major step back the last two years. What really did Chad Morris accomplish this year?

    We falling way to far behind…. the crimson empire on the west side of the state is having a run unparalleled in history. Not to mention LSU won the Heisman and the national last year. Jimbo’s got T a&m ranked in the top 10 and that may continue.
    Buy out money?
    Can we really afford to fall further behind?

    Will you be happy with continued fourth place in the pecking order in the west division of the SEC. I think that’s what you’re going to have with Malzahn.

    Yeah I hear you about what kind of program he was running. No probation, players dismissed that were problematic. But….
    Let me ask you this, among the players. Who is our Heisman candidate, who is our all American players, who are all SEC caliber players? who will win any kind of offensive or defensive award this year? Those are all Gus recruits.

    Matthew Hill was a highly rated receiver, they never saw the field. That was moved to a defensive back.
    I don’t see Zevian Capers or Kobe Hudson having the kind of year he could have had.

    How come Malik Willis is up there having a stellar year and liberty?

    How many of our best recruits have entered the transfer portal…Seems to me that Gus has had a problem identifying the right kind of players for the right positions.

    20 million dollars!!!!
    Aburn can’t afford this chaos to continue.
    Do you think Gus was ever going to produce more then 8 to 9 wins a year on average? I think Auburn University can do a lot better!

    A new coach is coming to the plains.

    My thoughts on Kevin Steele.
    I believe he was met with before Gus was fired. He probably agreed to hold the program down one or two years to let some stabilization occur. It’ll only probably cost us about little more than his salary now.

    Steele is competent, and runs a pretty mean defense. But we need to recruit better players and get a new offensive offensive coordinator with a new playbook. One That will get the ball moved down the field. We’ve got to get a head coach that can build a complete SEC team.

    If Auburn University is going to pay that much money for a coach, it can get a whole lot better Coach than Gus Malzahn.

  7. Orangeblood says:

    I’m just so emotional first thing in the morning.

  8. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……I’m grateful to have a nice mid-December day to watch a lot of fun college football. Usually, we’d be looking at a Potato bowl or something, this time of year.

  9. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..The B1G game was interesting, till the Northwestern quarterback couldn’t get out of his own way. I hate that Ohio State will be in the playoff with only 6 games played, and poor strength of schedule.

    …..The LSU Ole Miss game has been wild. The Rebs survived 5 first half turnovers. Lane Kiffin had one of those signature touchdown celebrations before the ball was even snapped, as Ole Miss took a 48-40 lead. Game’s not over, either.

    …..Mississippi State opened up a scoring can on Missouri. 51-32 is the final. I think definitively, the West is better than the East, this year.

    …..Final real question of the day: will Notre Dame get into the playoff, after getting mauled in the ACC title game? Or will Jimbo and TAMU sneak in to play Alabama again? Or will they look at Cincinnati or Coastal Carolina instead? Both of those mid-majors have better wins than anOSU does.

  10. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    Welcome Coach Harsin!
    Let’s see what you can do.

  11. PortCouncil1 PortCouncil1 says:

    Way off my radar, but I think it is a good hire. For those that don’t know, Auburn has hired Bryan Harsin from Boise State.

  12. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    Yeah, not on anyone’s radar.
    Whatever challenges and/or goals were put into the laps of these candidates, Harsin accepted. I guarantee that ‘competing for national championships’ was high on that list…. so I hope he’s more than capable to meet expectations. Only time will tell, but not too much time bud!!

  13. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    Some interesting comments nationally to the effect that Auburn shook off the Bobby Lowder/good old Auburn boys and girls crowd. Hopefully, Harsin will get full control over the football program as did Saban at Alabama. No meddling from anybody works!
    I like Harbin’s consistency (averaged almost 10 wins a year over 7 seasons), recruiting ability, ability to develop players (especially quarterbacks), and focus on BOTH offense and defense.
    I also remember a certain coach in the early 80’s who came from Wyoming!

  14. friedca friedca says:

    I feel like Auburn feel ass backwards into this and I’m more than pleasantly surprised. Looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table. War Eagle!

  15. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I didn’t see Harsin coming, either. I’m very pleasantly surprised! Inside word is that Greene was responsible, and bucked the general consensus to promote Kevin Steele. Now, can Harsin recruit the Southeast?

  16. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    Watching Malik Willis on the first drive against Coastal Carolina brings a lot of “what could have been” thoughts to mind. This was a guy that Coach Malzahn was unable to develop, one of several. He looks great, and the touchdown run brought memories of Cam and Nick.

  17. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Even moreso, Willis seemed like he was the next coming of Nick Marshall as a freshman in 2017, on those zone-reads. In 2018, he couldn’t make the reads hardly at all. Not just not developed, but backwards. I read recently via a Phillip Marshall article that the offensive issue in 2018 was Gus demanding that all of Chip Lindsey’s playbook be converted to Malzahn’s terminology. Lost some in translation?

  18. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..One mental exercise I do from time to time is designate a period of Auburn history. Say, my adult life. Right now 1981-2020. (40 years) I think, what was the worst score against Alabama? (2012, 49-0.) Best score? (2017, 26-14.) And repeat for each SEC team…

    …..What’s really surprising is how many of those “biggest beating” scores were from 2017. 49-10 MSU. 51-14 MIzzou. 40-17 UGA. 26-14 Bama. Of course, 2012 had its fair share of “worst losses.”

    …..I run stuff like that through my head while I’m out hiking, or washing the car, that sort of thing.

  19. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    Hey Acid,
    Looking back at Terry Bowden’s hiring, given the unhappiness some always felt about him, who was responsible for his hire? Was it Brother Lowder?
    I am grateful to the Lowder family for all it’s done for Auburn financially. I am not grateful to Bobby Lowder for his micromanagement as a trustee, not only in the sports area but also academics.

  20. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..The idea in late 1992 was that Auburn was going to hit another home-run hire, but NCAA probation was looming. Washington’s Don James was the favorite in the media, a lot like Hugh Freeze was this year. It didn’t materialize. No established “big time” coach wanted to take on 2 years of probation, and fight a coach across the state who had just gone 13-0 and won the national championship.

    …..I think Lowder and Jimmy Rane pushed Bowden, as a young, energetic stop-gap measure, to get us through the NCAA sanctions. I think they were as surprised as anyone, when Bowden won his first 20 games. However, Bowden was brash and cocky, and I think didn’t play the “talking with the power-boosters” thing very well. I don’t think Bowden and SID turned athletic director David Housel got along, either.

    …..The key was the 1996 season. Auburn got curb-stomped in Gainesville by Florida, 51-10, the same margin that had started the Dye topple back in 1990. Add in a 4-overtime loss to Georgia, and a narrow loss to Bama in Birmingham, and Auburn finished 7-4.

    …..David Housel broke the cardinal rule of management. He talked to the press, about how 7-4 was not acceptable at Auburn, and that Bowden would not be getting a contract extension. Disciplining your employees in public never works well. It creates all those fun things like a “silo mentality,” “casting blame instead of working together to fix things,” and a “culture of hiding mistakes.” And of course, the public notice of Bowden’s job being in question just killed things in recruiting.

    …..There was also a rumor floating around (never substantiated) that Terry was having a marital affair with a power-broker’s relative. Too bad no one could subpoena the head coach’s cell-phone records, back then!

    …..Bowden had lost his luster with the boosters, but made his eventual dismissal more difficult by winning the division in 1997. In 1998, offensive line problems doomed the season, and Bowden quit in the middle of it, convinced he was going to be fired.

    ……Right or wrong, Bowden’s resignation and subsequent statements to the press has hounded his career since. It was a dozen years before he got another head coaching job, at North Alabama. He then ended up at Akron, and now has taken a difficult and thankless job at Louisiana Monroe.

    • Orange Talon Orange Talon says:

      Ah yes, Terry Bowden.

      He only went 21-1 his first two seasons after inheriting an Auburn team hit with NCAA sanctions if memory serves.

      Finished 47-17-1 overall during his six year stint as Head Coach, distinguishing himself as Auburn’s most successful coach (who coached more than one game) with a .731 winning percentage, in school history.

      His reward – Lowder, Rane and Housel ran him off, oops my bad, he resigned.

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