Auburn had 21.4 million causes to not fireplace Gus Malzahn with 4 years remaining on his seven-12 months, $49 million contract extension. Sadly for Malzahn, he gave this system one “stable” motive to tug the plug and begin anew.
Malzahn was fired Sunday after a “thorough evaluation” of his tenure, athletics director Allen Greene and college president Jay Gogue introduced. Firing Malzahn after eight seasons comes on the finish of an uncommon and irritating season that noticed the Tigers end 6-4 following Saturday’s common-season finale towards Mississippi State. That file included three blowout losses to ranked groups — Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M — plus an inexplicable loss to South Carolina, which fired head coach Will Muschamp earlier than the season ended.
Malzahn’s seven-12 months contract, which he agreed to and signed in December 2017 after main Auburn to an SEC West title, included 75 p.c of the deal’s worth totally assured. His buyout, as of this month, is $21,450,000, with 50 p.c of that owed inside 30 days of his termination and the rest paid in 4 equal annual installments. Malzahn will probably be paid the rest of his contract, the college introduced in its launch.
“After evaluating the state of the Auburn soccer program, we’ve determined that it was time to make a change in management,” Greene stated. “We respect every part that Gus did for this system during the last eight seasons. We are going to start a search instantly for a coach that may assist the Auburn program constantly compete on the highest degree.”
In wake of Malzahn’s departure, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will serve as Auburn’s interim head coach as the college begins its nationwide seek for Malzahn’s successor.
Auburn began this peculiar season — performed towards the backdrop of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic —on the cusp of a prime-10 rating, however the Tigers tumbled out of the rankings inside a month of their first recreation. After a 27-6 street loss at Georgia, Auburn narrowly beat Arkansas at house the next week — benefitting from a controversial replay overview within the recreation’s waning moments — earlier than dropping at South Carolina every week later. That loss towards a two-win Gamecocks workforce wound up being one of the vital baffling of Malzahn’s tenure.
Auburn then rattled off three straight wins and appeared to seek out its stride earlier than operating into the Alabama buzzsaw. The Tigers misplaced to the Tide, 42-13, at Bryant-Denny Stadium after Thanksgiving. It was this system’s fifth straight loss in Tuscaloosa, and it marked the second-most lopsided lack of Malzahn’s profession, simply behind Auburn’s 31-level loss to Alabama in 2018.
The loss in Tuscaloosa additionally dropped Auburn’s file underneath Malzahn towards its three greatest rivals — Alabama, Georgia and LSU — to eight-17, together with 0-12 on the street. Every week later, a 31-20 loss to Texas A&M ensured this system’s seventh straight season with at the least 4 losses. Auburn led Texas A&M heading into the fourth quarter, however the offense faltered late, and the protection suffered a complete letdown towards the Aggies.
After the sport, Malzahn was requested about recalibrating the workforce’s objectives after one other loss, to which he stated the intention was to complete the 12 months 6-4 now—the very best the Tigers might do at that time — including that “if you happen to had a traditional nonconference schedule, it’d be a stable 12 months.” That assertion didn’t sit effectively with Auburn followers already pissed off by the product on the sector, and Malzahn issued a clarification a day later.
“I simply wished to guarantee that it’s very clear: Our expectation is to win championships right here at Auburn,” Malzahn stated. “It’s been that manner since I’ve been right here. We’re not pleased with a six-win season.”
Neither have been the choice-makers at Auburn, as an unpleasant 24-10 win towards Mississippi State wasn’t sufficient to avoid wasting Malzahn’s job.
Malzahn finishes his Auburn tenure with a 67-33 general file, a nationwide coach of the 12 months award, two SEC West titles, one SEC championship, a nationwide runner-up end and two New 12 months’s Six bowl berths. He had solely a 2-5 file in bowl video games, with wins towards Memphis within the 2015 Birmingham Bowl and Purdue within the 2018 Music Metropolis Bowl. Malzahn leaves Auburn as fifth all-time in wins amongst head coaches, behind Ralph “Shug” Jordan (176), Pat Dye (99), Mike Donahue (99) and Tommy Tuberville (85).
He was one in all solely two energetic SEC head coaches with a win towards Nick Saban, and leaves Auburn with a 3-5 file towards its in-state rival. For all Malzahn achieved throughout his eight seasons, his groups might by no means return to the top the Tigers reached throughout his first season on the helm.
After taking on a program that went 3-9 in 2012, Malzahn orchestrated one of many greatest single-season turnarounds in NCAA historical past, guiding Auburn to a 13-2 file general that included the Prayer at Jordan-Hare and the Kick Six wins. Auburn adopted that with an SEC title recreation win towards Missouri and a berth within the BCS Nationwide Championship Sport, the place the workforce fell 13 seconds shy of taking house this system’s first nationwide championship since 2010 and simply the sixth in class historical past.
Within the seven seasons since that apex, Auburn had only one different division title whereas experiencing 4 campaigns with 4-loss common-season information. Finally, the return on funding wasn’t “stable” sufficient for Auburn, and now Malzahn is out as this system begins the seek for its twenty eighth head coach.
“Coach Malzahn led the Auburn soccer program with honor and integrity,” Gogue stated. “We respect his service to Auburn Athletics, Auburn College and, specifically, our pupil-athletes. We want him and Kristi all the very best.”
Tom Inexperienced is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Comply with him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.