Road to Redemption
In three months since being named Auburn’s head football coach, Gus Malzahn has been arguably the second busiest man in the state. He assembled a tremendous coaching staff, delivered an impressive recruiting class, and gave the program a much needed dose of positive energy. He’s made all the right moves so far, but the one(s) fans have been clamoring for since his arrival is beginning to take shape as we speak. Spring practice has finally gotten underway and the Auburn faithful anxiously await the early results of this new era in Tigers football.
I would argue that Auburn, above all other college football fan bases and programs alike, deserve positive news more than anyone else at the moment. We’ve been unfairly conditioned to expect the very worst out of a lot of situations, and being forced to make a head coaching change in less than two calendar years removed from winning it all is not a good direction for a program to drift in. However, Gus Malzahn may be sitting a lot prettier than anyone cares to admit or figure out right now. This team still has a ton of potential, and if the new staff can unite these young men under one cause, Auburn will surprise a lot of people in an unpleasant way.
The road to redemption will not be an easy one by any stretch. The 2011 and 2012 teams appeared to be lacking motivation in the worst way. That can’t remain a characteristic of this team. In fact, it has already been largely addressed. When I look at the current roster, I see a majority of them as guys who should enter this season with huge chips on their shoulders. Motivation is something that should come easy right now. There’s not one team outside of Chattanooga St. that looks back at their games with Auburn the previous two seasons and feels any anxiety about playing those Auburn teams again. Fantastic. Let them doubt us. We won’t continue to doubt ourselves any longer under Malzahn.
This team is similar to an old car stashed away in a barn in many ways. What was once an impressive machine that performed to its maximum potential has been mishandled and not cared for properly. The outside world sees the skeleton of a non-descript automobile sitting on blocks and is covered in filth. The Auburn Family, this coaching staff, and anyone who has cared to pay attention knows that the jalopy sitting in the barn is actually a 1966 Corvette. The potential for this team to do great things is right in front of them if they commit themselves to earning it.
I’m not predicting an SEC Championship (that’s next year), but seriously, we aren’t to be taken lightly in 2013. I am confident that at least two teams will learn that the hard way from our Tigers this year. The Gus Bus is going to make the ride down the road to redemption a shorter trip than many realize.