Auburn's 7-5 record this season is not disappointing to me, I was actually expecting 6-6 or maybe 5-7. I expected growing pains but hoped to see improvement over the course of the season. Instead, the team's play went downhill as the season progressed on both sides of the ball.
After turning down Vanderbilt last year and being named in connection with Maryland, North Carolina, Kansas, Southern Miss and Ole Miss since, Gus Malzahn has agreed to become the next head coach at Arkansas State.
Read that again. Arkansas State.
Now mull this one over: Malzahn will reportedly make about $850,000 a year at ASU… as opposed to the $1.3 million he makes each year at Auburn.
Four things may be at play here:
1. Malzahn — a Fort Smith native — wants to get back to his Arkansas roots.
2. Malzahn truly believes ASU gives him the best chance to win and further his career.
3. Malzahn realizes that his stock has fallen since Cam Newton departed and he’d better get while the getting is good.
4. Malzahn just wanted the heck out of Auburn for some reason.
Whatever his reasons for leaving, Malzahn is now the second coordinator Gene Chizik must replace on his staff. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof saw the writing on the wall and left for Central Florida last week.
This latest move seems to be a fitting end to a year that left so many fans on The Plains disappointed. Their Tigers went 7-5, were blown out in the Iron Bowl, and now go into the Chick-fil-A Bowl without their best player (Mike Dyer), their defensive coordinator, and possibly their offensive coordinator (if Malzahn jumps to ASU ASAP as expected).
Of course, we tried to warn folks back in August that AU would struggle with so many young, inexperienced players taking over so many key positions. Remember when Tiger fans were so angry over “disrespect” from preseason pollsters who only had Auburn ranked around #15?
In our view, 2011 shouldn’t have been disappointing, it should have been expected.
At any rate, here’s what’s being said about Malzahn’s move: