“Everybody is hyped up about the new coach,” Foster said. “I think it is a great hire and they picked the right guy. I need to build a relationship with him. I built one with the rest of the staff, especially coach Trooper Taylor. Yes, I was waiting on the head coach to be hired, but even more so I am waiting to see what happens with Coach Taylor because my relationship with him is different than a regular coach to player relationship.”
Foster then goes on to say that if Taylor goes, he essentially goes as well, per Adams' report:
“Right now, I am still committed to Auburn,” Foster said. “If Trooper Taylor stays at Auburn, I am all in. If he goes, I will see where he goes too. I just need to see where he ends up. If he goes to another school, I will go there. Hopefully that school will want me too because I would love to follow him.”
This isn't good news for Auburn fans, especially considering that many head coaches like to clean house and start over with "their guys" once they take over a program.
If Malzahn doesn't retain Taylor, he'll be running the risk of losing his best recruit for 2013. It may be more than just a risk, though, because Foster sure is giving off the impression that he will try to follow Taylor if he does not coach at Auburn next year.
What is Malzahn supposed to do in this situation?
Whatever action he does choose, he mustn't do it in an effort to secure Foster's commitment.
Even though Foster is easily one of the biggest names of this 2013 recruit class, Malzahn can't jeopardize his authority as a head coach by getting tied up by an elite recruit in his first year with Auburn.
If Malzahn wants to move on without Taylor, that's his prerogative as the head coach of the Auburn program. If they lose Foster's commitment because of that decision, so be it. Sure, it will hurt Auburn's 2013 class and fans may not be happy about that, but in the end, Malzahn protected his aura as the head coach, and that will pay dividends in the long term.
A head coach needs to make decisions that are best for his program first and foremost, and then stick by those decisions. If he does move on without Taylor it would be a tough decision to make, considering the potential consequences of losing a 5-star recruit, but players, coaches, fans and other recruits will respect him for doing what he felt was right.
In his first year as head coach at Auburn, building that foundation for his program will be crucial.
Like I said, many coaches like to bring in "their guys," so it wouldn't be surprising if he wanted to do the same. The potential of losing Foster should not hinder him from making that decision. There will be more Reuben Fosters in time, but only if he can rebuild this program. A strong, authoritative start is a must in order for that to happen.
Of course, there's always the chance that Malzahn may actually want to bring Taylor back anyhow, so that's something we need to consider here, but if he truly wants to start over with a new staff, he shouldn't be afraid to do so. Remember, Taylor was a key name that was apparently "scrutinized" in an NCAA investigation, per a Yahoo! Sports report by Pat Forde, one has to wonder how that will play into the decision-making process.
Either way, Malzahn can't be afraid to move on with a new staff, even if it means losing Foster's commitment.
One recruit does not a program make, but a program can rise or fall depending on the strength of its head coach.