It wasn't the most imaginative hire in the world, but Auburn made the right choice for its next head coach.
According to a release from Auburn, former Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn will take over the Tiger football program following the dismissal of Gene Chizik.
Malzahn was the brains behind Auburn's record-setting offense that helped the Tigers win the 2010 BCS National Championship, and he proved his worth as a head coach this season, leading Arkansas State to a 9-3 record and the Sun Belt title.
He took over a mediocre Tiger offense before the 2009 season and promptly led the Tigers to their most prolific offensive season in program history with essentially the same personnel that gained just 308 yards per game in 2008.
He then outdid himself in 2010.
Under the leadership of junior college transfer Cam Newton, the Tigers led the SEC with 499.2 yards and 41.2 points per game in addition to producing two 1,000-yard rushers (Newton and Michael Dyer).
If you were to believe the rumors circling on Tuesday, the Auburn coaching search had dwindled to Malzahn and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
If that's the case, Auburn made the right hire with Malzahn because he's the complete opposite of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, not a replica.
Saban has been very outspoken with his frustration with hurry-up, no-huddle offenses in the past. The Crimson Tide lost 29-24 to Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies this season, and in early October, Saban asked "is this is what we want football to be?"
Malzahn proved that he can contend with and beat Alabama using his offense—even when his team has to overcome a 24-point deficit in Tuscaloosa.
Simply put, Auburn achieved the ultimate success by being the anti-Alabama, not playing Saban's game.
Chizik's decision to bail on Malzahn's offense in favor of the pro-style of offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler is one of the major reasons why Chizik is unemployed. But Malzahn allows Auburn to hit the reset button with talented players who were recruited to run his hurry-up, no-huddle attack.
Auburn has reeled in top-15 recruiting classes in each of the last three seasons, according to 247Sports.com. If Malzahn so chooses, he could keep in place some of those key assistants that have helped make Auburn so successful on the recruiting trail.
Curtis Luper and Trooper Taylor made headlines this year when it was reported that they were taken off the road due to potential NCAA violations, but recently they went back on the road recruiting for Auburn even after Chizik was dismissed, according to AuburnSports.com (subscription required).
Lost in translation is the fact that being taken off the road isn't necessarily a major story. After all, Georgia's offensive coordinator, Mike Bobo, was taken off the road for an $8 tennis ticket this fall.
Malzahn to Auburn isn't the flashiest hire in the world, but it's the right hire for Auburn. He's the anti-Saban, and Auburn has proved that it's capable of making that method work.
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