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The Calm Before the Storm

By on December 3rd, 2012 in Football 65 Comments »

Call it the calm before the storm. After a week of rumors and flight tracking, all has gone quiet on the Auburn coaching front, which means a decision is likely close at hand. With the regular season over, Auburn is expected to move fast now.

They’ll have to be quick, Arkansas and Tennessee have made it clear they are prepared to open up their wallets and target some of the same candidates on Auburn’s list.

Interviews are believed to have been conducted yesterday and expected to continue today. Don’t be surprised to see an announcement as early as tomorrow.

The speculation over the last seven days has been comical. Every big name from Bob Stoops to Chris Petersen to Jeff Fisher has been mentioned. All these reports have come courtesy of unnamed sources. Some web sites have been doing hourly updates, throwing out a new name each time. I suppose its good for business, but I trust those stories about as much as I do the National Enquire.

Talking with fellow TET writer AubTigerman over the weekend, we are in agreeance on Auburn’s philosophy. They’ll likely swing for the fences with names like Stoops, Petersen and Jeff Fisher; and if rebuffed, they’ll settle on one of these four: Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn, former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino or Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

Could there be a surprise choice? History says yes. Pat Dye was certainly a long-shot at the beginning of Auburn’s search back in late 1980. Most of that search focused on Georgia coach Vince Dooley and even included former Denver Bronco coach and Americus, Georgia native Dan Reeves.

Terry Bowden was a shocker to most everyone when hired from Samford at the end of 1992.  And we all know the reception Gene Chizik received after being named coach in 2008.

Don’t count out Bama’s Smart or another big-name coordinator. While he is young and unproven as a head coach, some of Smart’s predecessors in the business have proven this model works. You’ll remember that Mark Richt, Stoops, Jimbo Fisher and Will Muschamp all landed big jobs and succeeded without head coaching experience.

Who’s most likely to end up on the Plains? Flip a coin. I would guess Auburn places  Jimbo Fisher at the top of its list. It’s reported that Tennessee is also very interested. Would he leave FSU? With conference realignment going strong again, he has to be worried about the long-term relevance of his program in the ACC. I still believe Fisher landing at Auburn is highly unlikely.

Without question, Bobby Petrino is the best coach available. He’s also the most divisive. Is Auburn willing to put up with the public relations hit and a divided fan base? Possibly.

Malzahn is the safest choice. He knows Auburn the best. He’s a genuine offensive genius and knows how to score points and beat Alabama, LSU and Georgia.

In recent days, many have brought into question some of the recruits he greenlighted to Auburn while offensive coordinator that turned into behavioral problems. He’ll certainly have to answer in front of the search committee.

However, sources say that Malzahn grew frustrated last season with the lack of discipline inside the program and tried repeatedly to get Chizik to address them before they exploded. Some say it’s one of the reasons he left for Arkansas State. Then again, he allowed Mike Dyer to transfer with him.

So here we sit. In the final analysis, we know little more today than we did last Monday. Look for that to change fast.

Stay close to your computer over the next few days. Continue to check back with us often. As soon as we know something, we’ll let you know. These are exciting times for Auburn. Let’s hope the committee gets it right.


  1. restless6 says:

    I notice AU has a members only story that Kirby will interview. I said it yesterday, but I believe that he will be hired. 5 years, $2-3 million per year with lots of incentives and ironclad buyout.

    I like him. He’s a Montgomery boy, so Auburn isn’t far away from home. He’s young, fiery, can recruit, scheme, and coach well. He’s gonna be hired somewhere, it might as well be an in state school. Auburn has a chance to make a hire that the majority of the fan base will be happy with and will not divide not make us the butt of jokes. He will bring excitement to fans and supporters that need it in the worst way.

    Get Smart.

  2. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    Jay, you said “Without question, Bobby Petrino is the best coach available.”

    I’d like to ask you how you came to that conclusion. Petrino has an overall coaching record of 75 wins vs 26 losses as a college coach. Breaking down his record shows that his SEC coaching record is 34-17 and just 17-15 in conference play. In Bowl games he is 4-3. Not as impressive as the overall, but not a losing record. His only BCS Bowl game as an SEC coach was a loss, bringing his BCS Bowl record to 1-1.

    There are numerous coaches available to Auburn with much better records, and a lot less baggage.

    The other item to consider is the fate of the Big 12 and the ACC with all that is happening in college football right now. The only two conferences that seemingly are stable are the PAC-12 and the SEC.

    I would be happy with most of those names you mentioned. Enjoyed the read, I look forward to your rebuttal.


    • CapnVegetto says:

      You have to look at where he’s amassed that stuff, though. He wasn’t coaching at Alabama, or LSU, or Florida State, or some traditional powerhouse. He amassed those records at Louisville and Arkansas, which are mid-tier programs in their best years. He took two mid-tier, SIGNIFICANTLY lower budget programs and took them to BCS bowls. That is a BIG deal. Imagine what he could do with a top tier program’s resources.

      Don’t just look at the numbers, look at the body of work. Look at where he’s been, where they were when he got there, and where he took them. It’s very simple. He has done a lot with not much. Imagine what he could do with our budget and our recruiting footprint.

      • KoolBell KoolBell says:

        I have ever thought of Arkansas as a mid tier program.

        The problem I have is that Petrino never beat Saban. That smells like Bill Curry never beat Auburn, and I don’t want a Bill Curry coaching Auburn. That said, I liked Bill Curry, as a man, but he was not a great coach.

    • Jay Coulter Jay Coulter says:

      I say that because his overall record is solid and he’s made two BCS bowl appearances, more than the others on our radar. For all his issues, you’d be hard pressed to find a better offensive mind. That’s my argument.

      • KoolBell KoolBell says:

        Yes he is a good offensive mind. His record indicates that he isn’t a good head coach. He has some redeeming qualities, but responsibility isn’t one of them. IMHO.

  3. LSU Jonno says:

    Disagree with one point.

    “Malzahn is the safest choice. He knows Auburn the best. He’s a genuine offensive genius and knows how to score points and beat Alabama, LSU and Georgia.”

    LSU vs. Auburn scores during the Malzahn era:
    2009: 31-10 LSU
    2010: 24-17 AU
    2011: 45-10 LSU

    Ave AU points: 15 ppg
    That isn’t very scary. I suspect that Malzahn’s #’s are similar vs. Bama and UGA.

    I don’t think Malzahn the answer personally. Yeah he’s safe in that you know what you’re going to get, and he’ll throttle the lower tier SEC schools, but I never thought he was all that competitive vs the big boys. I’d take Kirby over Malzahn.

    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      Amen Jonno. Amen.

      If you run a gimmick offense in the SEC…and thats what the HUNH offense is……you better damn well have a Cam Newton or a Manziel who can plow for a 1st down on 3rd and 2 against LSU, UGA and the Turd. Go back and see how many times Cam kept drives alive by doing that. Thats what took us from an 8-4 team to a BCS team.

      If you watched the SEC Championship game you saw full tilt nuclear war on the lines and Alabama just beat UGA into submission on defense. Murray to his credit, almost got the job done
      You take Manziel away from A&M and Alabama beats them by two to three touchdowns. The system is only as good as the QB who runs it and its hard to get a QB who is always ON for the big games. Dominant line play is like speed, it never slumps.

      • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

        Take away Bama’s turnovers and they beat A&M regardless of what Manziel does.

      • AUdacious_Dude says:

        The same could be said for pro-style run oriented offenses. Without Bo or Herschel as RB’s they are average. The same could be said for the air-raid — without top notch receivers and smart QB’s, they are average.

        Basically it comes down to the players. Gus Malzahn said that if he were at bammer he would run the same ground and pound offense they do. Why? Because they always have top 5 recruiting classes and can simply overpower/outrun everyone. He also said since they have such talent, they can afford to stack their defenses with 4 and 5 star athletes. So he agrees that playing ground and pound with smothering D is the key to victory *when you have that kind of talent*. He then said “the rest of us not fortunate to have that talent must score points.” And that’s where the spread comes in. It is a fact that the spread gives less talented teams a much better chance of pulling out wins.

    • mccullars says:

      Auburn vs. Alabama during Malzahn era:
      2009: 21-26
      2010: 28-27
      2011: 14-42 (zero points scored by offense)

      Average AU points: 21ppg

      We did much better against Georgia except for 2011 in which we scored only 7 points.

  4. restless6 says:

    The AU plane is scheduled to fly to Tallassee Alabama in hour or so. Thoughts?

  5. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Good news. The fact that we haven’t named a HC yet means that he is still busy because he is preparing for bowl season… We hired Chizik in 10 days because his team was not bowling. So take heart, our guy is busy right now because he’s a winner; either as a HC, OC or DC.

    • Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

      …and it may mean he is currently a HC because sometimes a DC or OC will come on out and at least announce his exit or even leave early. So maybe scratch any candidates that aren’t HC like Smart??? Just a guess. If we don’t hear anything for 30+ days, then it’s Smart.

      We need to pay close attention to the bowl schedule for TCU, BSU, Ark St, FSU, Neb, etc… to get an understanding of time frame…

    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      Actually thats probably not the case. A head coach will accept another position while “bolwing” and let the administration determine if they want him to stay on to coach the team for the game. Its been done many, many, times before. Lou Holtz told a story last night about how he left Minnesota before their bowl game and offered to coach, this was in response to Northern Illinois’ coach taking the job at NC State…..and NO.Ill is going to the Orange Bowl.

      So I’d say bowling has no impact on the coaching search at all.

      • Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

        Wasn’t aware of the protocol. Thanks, just looking for something to stick my toe nails into.

  6. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    I got two favorites out of the list that I did yesterday:

    1) Kirby Smart, if he would take the job, would be a great long term investment. He could be AU’s long term coach. Further, I think if AU allowed him to do what needed to be done we would be playing for a championship in 5 years. Possibly sooner. I am willing to jump on the Saban bandwagon… a hellava lot mor quicker than the Petrino one. You know the old saying, if you can’t beat him… hire him for your team.

    2) Chris Petersen. I know. He is unproven in the SEC. But something tells me that he could do great things in the SEC environment.

    But would I freak out if we got say a “Bob Stoops” type? Hell no. That is a proven coach. And interestingly enough… Oklahoma is not playing in a BCS bowl. Not this year anyway. And Stoops has gotten how many NCs while at OK?

    Could it be that this is the year that AU hits the big time? Could be.

    Whether the decision is today or after the NC game…. AU will be on the prowl come February. And I look for AU recruiting… SERIOUS recruiting to take off then.


  7. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    The problem I have with any assistant coach going directly into a head coaching position is the lack of experience in hiring and directing a full coaching staff. They can no longer ‘run the show’ on either offense or defense, and are at the mercy of who they can hire to fill their coordinator slots. They have yet to establish a group of coaches to recruit and run their program.

    What kind of position coaches are willing to make that leap from an extablished program onto a head coach’s staff in his first year of coaching? Yeah, that’s a problem for me. Much as I respect Kirby Smart as a dynamic coach of outstanding defensive squads, he’s still an unknown element as a head coach. For every Mark Richt or Will Muschamp, there are just as many Joker Phillips and Mike Duboses.

    In fact without checking, I’d hazard to guess there are many more “Flops from Opp” than there are “Boom MF’s”. Not to mention, even Muschamp had Charlie Weis on his staff for a time.

    Under that criteria, I’d have to include Gus Malzahn but I’m not as uneasy with him as he seems to have done well at Arkansas State and seems to have a plan for everything.

    But all in all, I’d rather have an established coach with at least some of his coaching staff that would come with him.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      ……The head man can’t sit in the film room ten hours a day, either, like coordinator might do. He’s got appearance after appearance to do, while smiling and looking like he’s having fun.

  8. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Just read a story saying that Gene Chizick is being considered for the Southern Cal defensive coordinator position. Hard to believe he’d team up with Kiffin though, especially since he’s making bank by not working.

    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      Kiffin is really angling for that buy out himself isn’t he? My understanding of Genes deal is that he gets paid the difference of his “buy out” vs what he makes in his new job. So he would still make the big money and keep his cred in line by going back to work. If he stays out of coaching for the entire three years, it will be very hard for him to get another job.

      • War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

        Actually, as I understand it, if Kiffin leads USC to a 5-7 season next year he will become the New England Patriots head-coach-in-waiting. Who would have thought that the easiest way to get big head coaching jobs was to lose badly and often (see CGC at Iowa St., Dooley at La Tech, Kiffin everywhere)..

    • wilderr wilderr says:

      Gene Chizik will be the next head coach at South Florida.

    • AUdacious_Dude says:

      Chizik is a huge Tampa 2 guy. Monte Kiffin basically invented the Tampa 2 at the Bucs. So it makes sense Kiffin would go after one of the foremost T2 guys in college (Chizik).

  9. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    Good for Gene if he gets the DC job at USC. Gene has a very impressive resume as a Coordinator. I think he’ll do just fine back in that role.
    That also plays into the thought of handing the reigns over to another decorated Coordinator with little to no HC experience (per Sullivan013’s comments).

    I personally am at a loss as to who will be named our next coach and am not fully sold on any names in the mix. I’ll just wait and see who gets the nod then dig into their credibility at that time. I can say that I’d be less likely to frown upon the choice if a proven HC is selected.

  10. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    For those of you who are too young to remember the single wing, Cam Newton was a true single wing tailback and not a qb. In the single wing, the ball went directly to the tailback who was in the “shotgun” position. The qb was a blocking back. A true swtb was a triple threat, run, pass or kick. Three NC”s have been won by spread offenses in the last few years with true swtb’s, TX, FL and AUBURN. Biggest problem with the spread hurry up offense is the lack of development on the defensive side. I hope we go back to Shug/Dye type of hard nosed defense and smash mouth offense. Those are the types of teams that win consistently in the SEC.

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

    • restless6 says:

      Amen! I want Auburn to be as dominant as Bama and LSU in the run game and defense. This is why I want Kirby. Just say no to Gus!

  11. restless6 says:

    The AU plane is en route back to Ft Worth as of 1118 CST due to arrive 153 PM CST.


  12. wilderr wilderr says:

    For all the places and all the years coaching under Coach Nick Saban, Coach Kirby Smart ought to know everything about his coaching style. This experience alone should set him apart from the other candidates. Who better to beat Saban than someone who knows so much about him.

    As for Coach Petrino, I would be shocked if Coach Pat Sullivan and Bo Jackson gave Coach Petrino an endorsement.

  13. wilderr wilderr says:

    I see Gene Chizik going to South Florida

  14. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    I hope the main reason for putting Coach Sullivan and Bo on the committee was to offset the Petrino push. If the unthinkable happens, Heaven help us!

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

    P.S. We must always remember that Coach Chizik gave us something only Shug had before. I wish him well.

  15. Atmore Tiger Atmore Tiger says:

    Any clue on how much longer we’ll have to suffer in waiting to find out?

  16. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Here’s a really good article on Jonathan Wallace, AU is lucky to have guy like him who (hopefully) won’t go out and embarrass the university by making bad personal decisions.

    Highly recommend the read (at least it’s a break from the coaching rumors).

  17. wde1988 wde1988 says:


    Some disconcerting news from Jay Tate at AUSPORTS on rivals…: apparently AU hasn’t offered the job yet.

    His article discusses the elephant in the room… primarily Bobby Petrino. Apparently its come out that Petrino hasn’t even been interviewed… and it doesn’t look like he will be… yet. He elaborates on the divide in the family over the man… and his actions.

    Karma is a b!@#$ isn’t it?

    Tate’s perspective is that Sullivan/Jackson need to at least bring him in and assess him… and then if they have someone else who is better – they can a tleast tell those that wanted Petrino that he was looked at… in a way keeping the peace.

    I guess his point is that In a dysfunctional family it is always difficult to chart a path ahead. So true!

    Still – folks need to keep their undies on. We are all adults. So Jacobs said he wanted this done in 10 days… how does that saying go again? Oh yeah… crap happens.

    AU will get their man. As it is now, there are too many variables out right now that could still be in play.

    Take a deep breath family…


    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      Incidently – the bunker (their forum) is in meltdown mode right now.


      • restless6 says:

        Do tell. Are they fretting over Kirby? I sure hope that’s the guy. He’s number 1 on my realistic list.

        • wde1988 wde1988 says:

          Yeah. To illustrate the point I think Cap’t V is the walking, talking example of the Petrino fan who is deathly afraid that Kirby will be the selection.

          Why? They fear the unknown. Personally – I think Gus is more of an unknown than Kirby. At least we get a solid defense.

          Like Acid points out… say that it takes Kirby over a year to get the right personnel…. Ok. It’s probably going to take AU longer than that just to be competitive at all. That is what most folks don’t understand. This team was given free reign under Chizik. Why that happen is anyones guess. But I didn’t expect it at all. Not from Chizik. I am not sure why he got soft… but it sure showed on our players. As a result, an entirely new culture was created. And its is going to take time to erase it from the AU lore.

          My thing is I think I can accept Petrino if he were selected. But I would forever look at AU sports differently. The term ‘lack of respect’ would come to mind. The question would be “would I still follow AU football? Sure I would.

          With that said… I just don’t know how you get around Petrino’s issues. Considering his limited results… I am not sure that is an even trade. AU loses any way you look at it. The way you hear them talking its as if HE is the guy that is playing in the National Championship… instead of the other way around. I mean… has Petrino EVER won a NC?

          Ultimately if Smart is selected… I think there will be a lot of newly available seats in Jordan Hare. Again that is what That may actually be a positive. From a fiscal standpoint… AU may not have to expand Jordan Hare for a few more years.

          Who could fault that?


  18. CapnVegetto says:

    I’d expect we’ll have a new coach in 2 to 3 days. From what I gather, Auburn didn’t do much last week other than get ready to interview this week.

    I’m still hoping for Bobby Petrino. I don’t want smart, and is be happy with Patterson or Malzhan.

    Guess we’ll see.

  19. restless6 says:

    Anyone else find it odd that the Auburn plane had been in Ft. Worth all day since shortly after lunch?

  20. CapnVegetto says:

    When Tuberville was hired, auburn’s kingair was in Tupelo, ms all day. Patterson anyone?

  21. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Idaho hires Petrino.

    Paul Petrino.

  22. spanky says:

    I’m not sure what the relationship is with plane either. The two planes that I know of are blocked by flight tracker. That particular plane has been to a couple of our prospective new coach locations in recent days though.

  23. restless6 says: is reporting that Kirby was interviewed by Auburn today. Lets hope that the committee moves swiftly and makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

    I have visions of a once again feared Auburn defense, an aggressive and downright mean offensive line, and big bruising runners who beat oppenents into submission.

    I want the swagger back. I want a return to the Auburn that inspired respect and struck fear in opponents.

    Hire Kirby. Get Smart.

  24. Tiger95 says:

    Found an interesting article that may point us away from Malzahn or Petrino and more towards Smart, Patterson or Strong:

    I believe an uptempo offense can win a whole lot of games, but can it win you championships without the All American dual threat QB? Which system is easier to recruit to?

    • restless6 says:

      Uptempo offense carries too much risk if the QB goes down.

      Good offensive linemen and running backs are prevalent in the South. You can have consistency with a run first, ball control offense. Smash mouth football wins championships.

      F the spread. Slow it down. Run first to set up the pass.

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      I see one of our former OCs (Mazzone) is still doing pretty well.

  25. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    Sounds like a few people are beginning to see the light. AUBURN = Power of Dixieland!

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

  26. War Eagle 2000 says:

    Smart + Bobo as OC