Auburn had 21.4 million reasons not to fire Jus Malzan with four years remaining to extend his seven-year contract worth $ 49 million. Unfortunately for Malzahn, the program gave one “solid” reason to pull the plug and start over.
Athletics director Allen Green and school president Jay Gog announced the dismissal of Malzan on Sunday. Malzahn’s dismissal comes after eight seasons at the end of an unusual and disappointing season that saw the Tigers finish 6-4 after the end of the regular season on Saturday against Mississippi. That record included three heavy losses for the ranked teams – Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M – plus an inexplicable loss to South Carolina, which fired coach Will Muschamp before the season ended.
Malzahn’s seven-year contract, which he agreed to and signed in December 2017 after he led Auburn to the SEC West title, included 75 percent of the deal’s value fully secured. His purchase, as of this month, is $ 21,450,000, with 50 percent of that due due within 30 days of terminating his service and the remainder in four equal annual installments.
“After assessing the state of the Auburn football program, we decided it was time for a change of leadership,” Green said. “We appreciate everything that GAS has done for the show over the past eight seasons. We will immediately start looking for a coach who can help Auburn to consistently compete at the highest level.”
In the wake of Malzahn’s departure, Defense Coordinator Kevin Steele will act as interim head coach for Auburn as the university begins its national search for Malzahn’s successor.
Auburn kicked off the bizarre season – played against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – on the cusp of a top 10 ranking, but the Tigers dropped the rating within a month of their first game. After losing 27-6 on the road in Georgia, Auburn narrowly beat Arkansas at home the following week – capitalizing on a controversial review in the rematch in the final moments of the match – before losing to South Carolina a week later. This loss to Gamecocks who had two wins ended up being one of the most baffling things of the Malzahn’s period.
Auburn then scored three wins in a row and seemed to take his stride before hitting the Alabama saw. The Tigers lost to Tide, 42-13, at Bryant Denny Stadium after Thanksgiving. It was the fifth consecutive loss for the program in Tuscaloosa, and was the second most unbalanced loss in Malzan’s career, behind Auburn’s 31-point loss to Alabama in 2018.
The loss in Tuscaloosa also lowered Auburn’s record under Malazan against the three biggest competitors – Alabama, Georgia and LSU – to 8-17, including 0-12 on the road. A week later, a 31-20 loss to Texas A&M secured the show’s seventh consecutive season with at least four losses. Auburn captained Texas A&M in the fourth quarter, but the attack faltered late, and the defense suffered a complete disappointment against Agis.
After the match, Malzan was asked about resetting the team’s goals after another loss, as he said the goal is to finish the year 6-4 now – which is the best the Tigers can do at that point – adding that “if you have a normal performance schedule without conferences,” It will be a strong year. ” That statement didn’t go well with Auburn fans already disappointed with the product in the field, and Malzahn released a clarification a day later.
“I just wanted to make sure it was very clear: expect to win trophies here in Auburn,” Malzan said. “It has been like this since I was here. We are not happy with a season of six wins.”
Decision makers weren’t in Auburn, as an ugly 24-10 win over Mississippi wasn’t enough to save Malzan’s job.
Malzahn finished his tenure at Auburn with a record 67-33, National Coach of the Year award, two SEC West titles, a SEC Championship, a national runner-up, and two six New Years anchors. He had only a 2–5 record in the Bowl games, with wins over Memphis at the 2015 Birmingham Bowl and Purdue at the 2018 Music City Bowl. Malzan leaves Auburn in fifth place in all-time wins among the head coaches, behind Ralph “Shug” Jordan (176), Pat Day (99), Mike Donahue (99) and Tommy Toberville (85).
He was one of only two active coaches in the SEC to score a win over Nick Saban, leaving Auburn with a 3-5 record against his in-state rival. Despite everything Malzahn achieved during his eight seasons, his teams could not return to the summit the Tigers had reached during his first season at his head.
After taking over the 3-9 program in 2012, Malzahn staged one of the biggest turnovers in a single season in NCAA history, leading Auburn to a 13-2 record overall that included praying in Jordan-Hare and the Kick Six. Auburn followed suit by winning a SEC game against Missouri and Berth in the BCS National Championship game, in which the team fell 13 seconds shy back home for the program’s first National Championship since 2010 and only sixth in the school’s history.
In the seven seasons since that summit, Auburn has had only one title in another division while he’s fought four campaigns with four losses in the regular season. In the end, the ROI wasn’t ‘strong’ enough for Auburn, and now Malzahn is out with the start of the program looking for his 28th coach.
“Coach Malazan led the football program in Auburn with honor and integrity,” said Gogh. “We appreciate his service to Auburn Athletics, Auburn University, and in particular, our student athletes. We wish him and Christy all the best.”
Tom Green is Auburn Beat Reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter Embed a Tweet