While LSU and Clemson were battling for a national championship, Gus Malzahn hired a new offensive line coach.
Auburn announced Monday night that Jack Bicknell Jr. will replace J.B. Grimes, who stepped down from that role after two seasons last week.
Bicknell spent the past three seasons as the offensive line coach at Ole Miss.
“Jack has a wealth of coaching experience and success in all levels of football, including the last three years in the SEC,” Malzahn was quoted as saying in a news release. “He has been a part of a Super Bowl championship team and been a head coach collegiately. Jack’s diverse and extensive resume will be valuable in developing our offensive line unit. We’re very excited to have Jack join our staff here at Auburn.”
Bicknell, 56, first broke into the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Boston College, in 1986 after playing four seasons for the Eagles from 1981-85. The North Plainfield, N.J., native was the starting center during Doug Flutie's Heisman Trophy campaign in 1984.
Most notably, he spent eight seasons as the head coach at Louisiana Tech from 1999-2006 (the Bulldogs went 43-52) and seven seasons with four different NFL teams (New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins) from 2009-15. He was a part of the Giants' Super Bowl XLVI staff in 2012.
Among the offensive linemen Bicknell coached in the NFL are Mike Pouncey, Ja'Wuan James, Chris Snee, Shaun O'Hara, Ramon Foster and David DeCastro.
“I’m fired up to be joining a tradition-rich program like Auburn. Auburn has always been known as a blue-collar, hard-working team that has achieved a tremendous amount of success,” Bicknell said in a statement. “I am very appreciative of Coach Malzahn for this opportunity. He and Coach (Chad) Morris are very well respected offensive minds in the game of football and I can’t wait to work with them and the rest of the Auburn staff.”
Ole Miss' offensive line ranked 107th nationally during the 2019 season, according to Pro Football Focus, but the Rebels still ranked second in the SEC averaging 251.2 yards per game with plenty of help from true freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee.
Bicknell coached three players who went on to be drafted into the NFL during his time in Oxford — tackle Greg Little (second round, 2019), guard Javon Patterson (seventh round, 2019) and guard Rod Taylor (seventh round, 2018).
The Rebels signed 11 offensive linemen over three classes from 2017-19, with seven of those coming in the most recent of those classes.
At Auburn, Bicknell will inherit an offensive line that returns starting center Nick Brahms but will have to replace four multi-year senior starters in Prince Tega Wanogho, Marquel Harrell, Mike Horton and Jack Driscoll.
The Tigers signed five offensive linemen during the early period in December and are looking to flip five-star Georgia offensive tackle commit Broderick Jones before National Signing Day in February.