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Putting a Bow on the 2016 Season

By on January 9th, 2017 in Football, News 33 Comments »

pettway-threeWhen you reflect on the tenure of Gus Malzahn, the seasons kind of run together. You really can’t tell one from the other. Athletic Director Jay Jacobs says he wants consistency for the program. I think he’s found it in Malzahn.

Since the 2013 season, Auburn has lost at least five games a year. In contrast, Alabama has lost three games over the same period. There was a time when keeping up with Alabama and Georgia mattered. Apparently, you can pull down $4 million a year, lose to both and be just fine.

Auburn enters the off-season just like the last one and the one before that… Waiting for the right quarterback to show up and save the day.

Meanwhile, tonight Alabama plays for a national title with a freshman quarterback. Let’s hope Jarrett Stidham can block and catch too. Because we haven’t seen a lot of that either down the stretch.

Give Malzahn credit. He’s selling a story that everyone seems to be buying. Stidham will save the day come this fall. It’s frightening how mediocrity has seeped into this program. For those who say the Sugar Bowl was an accomplishment, give me a break.

Before the smallest crowd in Sugar Bowl history, we watched perhaps the worst SEC team ever to play in the game, be gutted by Oklahoma in every way. I was among the stupid who spent my money going, believing Auburn would be better with everyone healthy. Shame on me.

Assuming Auburn’s leadership finds a pulse, and it should when a new president arrives later this year, Malzahn will likely face a do or die season – finally. Maybe Stidham’s arrival will lift everyone else up. Maybe our receivers will start getting open downfield and our lineman will hold blocks longer. Sounds to me a lot to ask of a 20-year-old.

Next month, Auburn will likely land another top 10 recruiting class. At no time in Auburn history has there been so much talent on campus. Yet the story rarely changes. When we look back on 2016, it will be remembered as more of the same.

But next season!

Oh, just wait until next season!


  1. uglyjoe says:

    But thank goodness we can look forward to basketba…..I mean baseba…..I mean women’s softball.

  2. DBAU81 says:

    This was a strange year. Normally 8-4 would have landed us someplace like the Outback or Music City Bowl, but given the overall mediocrity of the league (except, of course, for you-know-who) we ended up in New Orleans. The high point was the blowout of Arkansas and the low point was yet another inexcusable loss to an inferior Georgia team. As for the Sugar Bowl itself, any chance we had went out the window when Sean got hurt, and you could sense that the team knew it. They didn’t quit, but the vibe just wasn’t the same.

    2017 is indeed the make-or-break year for Gus. We should all hope he succeeds because, frankly, I don’t know if there’s another coach out there that (a) we would have a realistic chance of getting and (b) would be much of an improvement.

    • AU70 says:

      How about this guy?

      Ex-Citadel coach Mike Houston’s formula working again at James Madison
      The Post and Courier · 17 hours ago

      Ex-Citadel coach Mike Houston leads JMU to national title
      The Post and Courier · 36 mins ago

      How JMU ended North Dakota State’s streak and reached the title game in a new coach’s first year
      SB Nation · 1 day ago

  3. dyingculture dyingculture says:

    I feel you. It’s getting really old. With so much talent at every position, it’s so easy to say “just wait till next year” but “next year” never seems to come. It’s becoming harder and harder to support this coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

    But say what you will about this coaching staff, they do seem to be doing just one thing right, and that is recruit. A top 10 recruiting class is becoming expected, even. Just look at this year: there are few big standout recruits this year because it seems like there is a lack of belief in the program, and we will probably have to settle for more 3 stars than normal. But, here we stand at number 8 and a top 10 finish seems almost guaranteed.

    But for sure 2017 will provide a 10 win season, with Stidham and White both proven starters. If one goes down, this time someone will step up. Just wait till next year. No, really. I promise.

  4. AETiger AETiger says:

    Brutal, but true assessment. We are who we are; an average SEC program that once a decade or so, when the moon is full and Mars in the right orbit, hits it big. Those combinations should happen once or twice more in my lifetime. Fortunately, as I have gotten older, AU football no longer determine my happiness in life (thank God).

  5. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    Losses for new Auburn coaches – First four years

    Terry Bowden – 9**
    Pat Dye – 12*
    Gus Malzahn – 18*
    Shug Jordan – 19
    Tommy Tuberville – 19
    Gene Chizik – 19*
    Doug Barfield – 19

    *Won a conference championship
    **1st in SEC, but ineligible

    Just thought I’d put this in for perspective. It shows the losses and conference championships for every new Auburn coach that had at least four years in a row since World War II.

    It’s also important to note the Gus Malzahn was Gene Chizik’s Offensive Coordinator for his first three years. Losses during that stretch? 10 – with a conference and national championship thrown in.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Statistically, Auburn is 8-4 on an average season, at least in my lifetime. Terry Bowden abused the non-conference slate, for the most part, and didn’t have to worry about a decent bowl opponent his first two years. Of course when he had Penn State in year 3, he suffered the worst Auburn bowl loss (43-14) since a 36-7 pasting in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, by the Houston Cougars.

      …..Fun fact: Terry Bowden only lost 2 non-conference games in his 5.5 years. The Outback against Penn State in 1995, and a 19-0 loss to Virginia his final year. Gus has 3 bowl losses in 4 years, plus a regular season loss to Clemson, in 2016. It’s hard to compare eras 20 years apart, though.

      • sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

        And not to put too fine a point on it, I’ll add these two coaches whose teams are playing for tonight’s championship:

        First four years as a head coach – losses

        Nick Saban – 22 (Michigan State)
        Dabo Swinney – 19 (Clemson)

  6. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    For what it’s worth, Brandon Marcello at 247 Sports is predicting a 10 – 2 record for 2017. The losses: Clemson and bammer.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Marcello has done a really good job over there. Kind of refreshing, compared to the typical journalist who doesn’t want football fans to have an opinion, and especially not to post it!

  7. tigrrr tigrrr says:

    Please someone answer these questions:

    What is Auburn’s Offense supposed to be, and

    What is Auburn’s Offense in reality?

    Another question, why do we get a pro set passer for the zone read option offense?

    Jalen Hurts is the Nick Marshal model. Why don’t we have that, or do we in JF3?

    Where is Woody Barrett? He’s got to be better than a one armed Sean White.

    I wonder what would have happened if we stayed with either JJ or JF3 for more than a couple of series?

  8. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Jay, man, you are killing me.

    I just sat down to pen this exact article.

  9. AUTiger57 says:

    Jay, thoroughly enjoy your posts as always. I appreciate your bluntness and brutal honesty. I have stated over and over here on TET that we’ve settled for mediocrity in our football program. The facts don’t lie, nor do the results of the games. Why should we accept losing to our 2 biggest rivals 3 consecutive years?? Should and could have been 4 if not for the miracle plays of 2013. Frustrated with hearing about Bama playing for national championships every year, after year, after year, etc. You are so right, “give me a break”!!!!! Freshman qb playing for a championship, and we can’t even survive a full season to at least be competitive with other mediocre teams. I can handle losses, but not non-competitiveness. Not acceptable. Love Auburn with all my heart and soul. Hope someone can rescue us from complacency. Appreciate all you guys. War Eagle!!

  10. JRoweMDN says:

    Stidham could be a blessing and a curse. What if next year is a great 10-2 or 11-1 regular season? Or we catch a break and win out and get another NC shot? Then another where we take a peek at the CFP behind Stidham in 2018? Then we are back to Barrett who we have to hope has been developed in the system. Or can Gus can sniff out another transfer that can run his system? I have to say that I have lost my faith in Gus to scheme better or develop talent and he is too stubborn to get some help from outside. I hope I am wrong. WDE!

    • We will win 10 games next year. And the process will likely start all over.

      • JRoweMDN says:

        This is my biggest fear that we see the playoff in ’17 or ’18 and then we go right back in the toilet for 3 years then make another run just in time to save jobs again. Rinse and repeat…

        My worst fear is that 7 plays is all we will see next year and although they will be run better with a DT QB the defenses already know what is coming and we get hammered again. Then we fire Gus and become UF/UT.

        I feel a little Pink Floydish “Comfortably Numb”

  11. zotus zotus says:

    “We’re settlers, son. We settle for things.

    “We settle for a total beat-down at the hands of ‘Big Game Bob’ in the Sugar Bowl, while we celebrate a High School Coach with a High School Mindset — who picks his nose on the sidelines and watches as his team lives & dies on Trick Plays & Field Goals — as an Football Genius and as One of the Best Offensive Minds in the Nation.”

    “What have you been doing, Jay Jacobs, while Rome burns all around you?”

    “Working the land. Passing out $200K performance bonuses. Hoping for a fertile Spring.” replies Mr. Jacobs.

  12. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    C’mon, man!!
    Our return on investment is less than it should be.
    Will CNS retire after tonights Clempson game?
    Not likely.
    We are being out worked by Clempson, UGA and UA.

  13. ausouthal says:

    I read all the comments and I read them every day. I see the unhappiness and the confusion as to what the team we pull for is supposed to be. Most all the criticism ends up in the lap of the offense and the coaches Malzahn and Lashlee. The suggestions from reading all Auburn articles on all the sites I can go from totally getting rid of Malzahn to replacing Lashlee to just gritting your teeth and bearing it because Auburn will never be anything but an 8-5 team. So what do you folks think, can Gus and start from scratch (and with who as the coach), get rid of Lashlee, or just keep on with the same miserable program year after year. I myself think it is time to cut the cord between Gus and Lashlee and bring in a new offensive mind or if Gus can’t or will not do that then let them coach together somewhere else. One more year is all my patience can take!!!!!!

    • AU70 says:

      I for one am ready for some fresh air. I fear we are in a rut. How about this guy.

      Ex-Citadel coach Mike Houston’s formula working again at James Madison
      The Post and Courier · 17 hours ago

      Ex-Citadel coach Mike Houston leads JMU to national title
      The Post and Courier · 36 mins ago

      How JMU ended North Dakota State’s streak and reached the title game in a new coach’s first year
      SB Nation · 1 day ago

  14. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    That is a very honest view of the Auburn Football program at the present time. You picked a great time to publish your article. The day that Alabama goes for another National Championship and they seem to be heading towards another number spot in recruiting.

    The Sugar Bowl was frustrating to watch for any Auburn fan. The play calling was vanilla and the team seemed to fold once Sean White went down with the arm/shoulder injury. I really feel that Sean was injured much worse than we were lead to believe judging from his performance in the games with UGA and Oklahoma. It was obvious that he had very little ability to throw the ball any distance.

    Yes, next season will be the turning point for the Auburn Football program. I really feel that Gus will need to win at least 10 games with a win over Alabama or UGA or the Auburn boosters will be making a coaching change. I am sure that the Auburn fan base is getting weary of watching the team across the State of Alabama play for the National Championship each year.

    War Eagle and let’s get ready for some Auburn Softball.

  15. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    A correction in my comment. That would be another number “one” spot in recruiting in the third sentence.

    I wish you all well in 2017.

  16. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    A correction in my comment. That would be a number “one” spot in the third sentence.

    I wish you all well in 2017.

  17. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Is it just me, or does it seem that Malzahn is not learning from his mistakes, not learning to adjust his offense to what defenses are doing?

    • Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

      It is no secret that Gus Malzahn is stubborn and seldom seeks counsel from outside sources. Adjustments in the offensive game plan seemed to be rare as the season progressed. There was no imagination at all in the play calling starting with the UGA game. For instance, Oklahoma had 8 men in the box when John Franklin entered the game and usually blitzing a safety so an Auburn receiver had to be open. They were just daring Auburn to throw the ball. I was wondering what happened to Auburn’s receivers. They may have been running the wrong pass routes or JF3 just did not know where they were located on the field.
      Jarrett Stidham should be a welcome change if the right plays are called.

      • AETiger AETiger says:

        Why Gus does not want his QBs working with a QB guru is mystifying. Especially with the lack of QB development that happens on the AU campus.

  18. dyingculture dyingculture says:

    Malzahn losing his mojo is baffling, to be sure. He has a track record that goes back two decades, and his offensive genius reputation was well-earned. He could get 500+ yards against any defense, coaching any style. His Tulsa teams set all kinds of passing records, then he coached the most powerful SEC running attack in recent memory.

    And now he has just… lost it. The thing we can hang our hats on was everyone was saying about how Lashlee is such a genius when AU was unstoppable in October. Lashlee will do that again this fall. Then he can get his job as head coach somewhere, and Malzahn and Lashlee will finally be separated and we can bring in some fresh blood.

  19. neonbets says:

    What Auburn coach from the past 20 years represents anything but a lateral move from Malzahn?

    Sure, many might like T-ville’s toughness, Bowden’s ability to pull lightning out of a bottle, etc…but when you get down to it: Not a single coach from the past 20 years represents a significant upgrade over Malzahn.

    I know the frustration runs high right now, but many seem to think Auburn is a 10 win minimum team year in and year out. Sorry, but we’re not.

  20. meathead530 says:

    At what point does Gus say to himself “Wow. What I’m doing isn’t working.” I have no faith in Auburn because of the offensive coaching. The players deserve better because the talent is there. The coaching is not capitalizing on that talent.

  21. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    After the 2013 season I would have NEVER thought we would have offensive problems.
    Now we have witnessed 2 years of poor QBing. Unbelievable!

    2 years of poor play calling.

    3 years of losses to Uof A and UGA.

    C’mon, man!!

  22. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    Purple and Orange Tigers just won. How sweet it is!!!!! Beat Bama. War Eagle.

  23. Tiger4Life says:

    Telling it like it is…
    We were top 10 in rushing (but NOT when it MATTERED)
    We must have the greatest WR recruiters in the history of football to get Nate Craig Myers and Kyle Davis to come to a program that attempted the fewest passing attempts in all of the NCAA except for 8 teams.
    I agree with those who say it’s not losing– if you fight your guts out like Penn State did and lose to USC– thats heartbreaking but you can be PROUD…
    I have been a Braves, Falcons, Auburn fan for life– and the common denominator of success is leadership at the top… Gus brought it when he returned, but may have lost it at some point…
    War Eagle!