The Auburn Tiger football program has basically told the Gene Chizik era to f–k itself as the Tigers are going to announce Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn as their new head coach. Malzahn was offensive coordinator under Chizik for three years, including the 2010 national championship season.
Malzahn recruited quarterback Kiehl Frazier, one of three Auburn quarterbacks to struggle mightily under the pro-style offense Chizik tried to install with Malzahn’s replacement, Scott Loeffler. A pro-style offense, with players recruited to run Malzahn’s spread offense. Can’t imagine why that didn’t work.
After a disastrous 2012 season, Auburn is clearly choosing Malzahn in the breakup with Chizik. The former Auburn coach reportedly bristled at the credit given to Malzahn for the success of Cam Newton and the 2010 offense and began to have a heavier hand in gameplanning. Naturally, this led to Malzahn’s departure for Arkansas State and the hiring of Loeffler. A 3-9 season later, everyone is fired and Malzahn is back like Richard I after pillaging his way through the Sun Belt conference back to England.
The re-emergence of Malzahn obviously doesn’t fix all of Auburn’s problems. Even with talented players, Auburn was still winless in the SEC in 2012. Malzahn will have to get the losing out of the culture of the program quickly while also proving to everyone at Auburn that he actually can be a CEO for a major program. One year at Arkansas State doesn’t really prove Malzahn is a winner and it definitely doesn’t prove that he can recruit good players. Plus, there is the Auburn boosters and alumni to deal with, a group that is notoriously cranky and heavy-handed.
Auburn still famously owes Gene Chizik $11 million even though he is contractually obligated to “try” to find employment. It’s difficult to believe Malzahn came back for a small amount of money, so it remains to be seen how his contract is structured. He probably isn’t getting Brett Bielema money (believed to be delivered to his house in Madison in an actual dump truck).
Whatever his salary, it’s obvious the arms race in the SEC West is escalating very, very rapidly.