Joe Medley: If Malzahn report is true, expect AU to fight back
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Dec 03, 2013 | 12460 views |  0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn talks to official about a call earlier this year in a game against Ole Miss. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn talks to official about a call earlier this year in a game against Ole Miss. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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AUBURN -- Well, at least the column didn’t say it would be “un-American” for Gus Malzahn not to leave Auburn for Texas.

But Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel did quote a source close to Malzahn saying that the coach considers Texas’ yet-unopen job a “dream job,” and Thamel wrote Tuesday it’s unsafe for any successful coach to stay at Auburn long.

Cash in that remarkable first season as Auburn’s head coach while the cashing is good.

Stuff the nation’s greatest turnaround in the briefcase and turn away.

Don’t end up like Terry Bowden, Tommy Tuberville and Gene Chizik.

Yes, Auburn, welcome back to the price of success. It comes with rumors about the coach.

So have a pang of the heartburn that Alabama and Nick Saban have endured during their run of national titles, which likely paused with a 34-28 loss to Malzahn’s Auburn team on Saturday.

Texas talk has turned from Saban to Malzahn, just as the Tigers have turned from Iron Bowl glow to preparations for Saturday’s SEC Championship Game date with Missouri.

Hey, coaching speculation has no sense of timing. Or maybe it does, but the grenade has landed, and the reactionary world must react in the 24-hour news cycle.

Malzahn wasn’t scheduled to meet with reporters Tuesday and didn’t. Coordinators Rhett Lashlee and Ellis Johnson did, and they’ll never speak out of turn about their boss’ career plans.

Malzahn will meet with reporters today.

Until then, hey, who in their right (read cynical) mind quickly dismisses coaching rumors? Well-resourced Texas is a dream job for most any coach, and Auburn does have that colorful coaching history.

Bowden won his first 20 games at Auburn and won an SEC West Division title in 1997. He started 1-5 in 1998 and abruptly resigned.

Tuberville went undefeated in 2004, a year after “Jetgate,” and won a lot of games at Auburn after that. He went 5-7 in 2008 and resigned under pressure.

And who can forget Chizik’s national championship in 2010? Well, lots of people forgot it when he went 3-9 (0-8 SEC) two years later.

Posting a program’s worst season in 60 years has a way of getting a coach fired, even two years after he delivered the program’s first national title in 53 years.

So here Auburn stands with Malzahn, an amazing 11-1 with an SEC West title just a year after Chizik’s fall, and here’s the problem with logic that says Hurry-Up Gus should hurry up and hop on the bus.

To Auburn people, Malzahn’s turnaround doesn’t feel like a Bowden turnaround. Or a Tuberville turnaround. Or a Chizik turnaround.

Talk to them, and they’ll cite a sense that the meticulous Malzahn’s way has more staying power, and it goes beyond his hurry-up, no-huddle offense. That Malzahn has accomplished so much with largely the same team that went 3-9 a year ago only spared Auburn the feel of a process.

Oh, and about that Chizik championship: Auburn people tend to credit Malzahn, then the offensive coordinator, a lot more than they credit Chizik.

Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs has already said he and Malzahn will talk about a raise after this season. If Texas sends a burnt-orange truck full of money, then expect Auburn to fight back.

That just might be a win-win for a source close to Malzahn.

Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, jmedley@annistonstar.com. On Twitter @jmedley_star.
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