Will Auburn rally for Gus Malzahn?

October 20, 2018 By Skye Underwood

It hurts.

It hurts because we all agree that Gus Malzahn, the Auburn head coach in his sixth season on The Plains is the type of good Christian man you want running a big-time college football program in the Deep South.

He believes in the things that we believe in – faith, family, and Auburn. No one should ever question Malzahn’s devotion to The Loveliest Village on The Plains. And no one should ever question the way he represents the university, at least off the field.

He leads the Auburn program with class. He tries to set a good example for his players on how a man should handle himself in times of triumph and adversity.

You’ll never hear him utter a cuss word and you’ll never smell alcohol on his breath. As far as character, Gus Malzahn is the epitome of the kind of head coach you’d want your son to play for.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Malzahn is failing in the most critical part of coaching — winning games. 2018 was supposed to be his deepest and most talented roster after consistently recruiting top-ten classes during his tenure at Auburn.

The Tigers entered the season ranked in the Top 10, considered a legitimate College Football Playoff contender, but instead after seven games into a twelve game regular season, Malzahn’s bunch stands at 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the SEC.

This week saw the Tigers fall out of the AP Top 25 ending a streak of 33 consecutive weeks of being ranked. Auburn’s most recent loss came at home to a Tennessee team that had lost 11 conference games in a row dating back to 2016.

Auburn Football has been bad football in 2018 and it’s created a ripple effect that’s shaken the very core of Malzahn’s support. Very few if any Auburn fans are still on the Gus bus. The Auburn Family has seen their beloved football program take a big step backwards in 2018 under the direction of Malzahn.

The approval rating for the Auburn head coach has never been lower and the Arkansas native needs to finish with a winning record to ensure that he gets at least another year, but the damage has been done.

Malzahn’s pride and stubbornness are to blame. SEC defenses have clearly caught up with his tendancies and philosophies on offense.

Actually, it was apparent at the end of the 2016 season when Auburn’s offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee tried to convince the media that he willingly took a quarter of a million dollar pay-cut to get out of Malzahn’s shadow by accepting the same position at UConn. Maybe Rhett knew that he’d never truly get the chance to run Auburn’s offense with Malzahn as head coach.

After Lashlee left Auburn for colder pastures, Malzahn had to hire a new o.c. and that meant a tug of war with the Auburn powers that be, who wanted Malzahn to hire someone with fresh and new ideas, but from the very start Malzahn had his eye on the o.c. at Arizona State Chip Lindsey.

Lindsey was a high school coach in Alabama before he got his first chance as a college coach when Gus Malzahn hired him as an analyst for the 2013 Auburn Tigers. Lindsey used the success of Auburn’s 2013 season as a launching pad for his own college coaching career, earning his first offensive coordinator role in the FBS at Southern Miss in 2014 and in ‘15 that saw his offense produce a 4000-yard passer, a 1000-yard receiver, and two 1000-yard rushers. Lindsey was then lured away by Arizona State after 2015 and spent one season as the o.c. in Tempe before Malzahn came calling.

Did Malzahn hire Lindsey because he can’t quite let go of his baby? Offensive football is what made Gus Malzahn – Gus Malzahn. And it’s the very thing that is breaking him. Is Gus Malzahn’s coaching career coming full circle? Once considered an offensive genius, Malzahn now appears like he’d be better suited on the sidelines coaching Shiloh Christian (High School) than leading a blue blood, power five football program.

If Auburn loses to (5-2, 1-2) Ole Miss in Oxford this morning at 11:00 a.m. cst on ESPN, the writing will be on the wall.

The Auburn Tigers will be playing for their head coach today. Malzahn has lost the support of the Auburn fan base, but with a win over Ole Miss today, he can prove that he hasn’t lost the Auburn locker room.