OK. I admit it. I was wrong about Gus Malzahn. A lot of folks were.
On December 2, I wrote the following about Malzahn:
"What some would consider an advantage to Malzahn returning, others would call a disadvantage. Malzahn would not bring the culture change that many feel is needed around the Auburn program. Many people feel that Malzahn had as much to do with the discipline issues and the entitled culture that had engulfed the Auburn football team after the 2010 BCS Championship as Chizik did.
Malzahn is very fresh in the head coaching game and is as much of a risk if not more than any of the candidates. While Malzahn may be the next big thing in college coaching, the search committee that Auburn has hired may be looking for a more polished head coaching resume than Malzahn currently has."
When Malzahn was hired on December 4, I didn't really feel that it was much of a coaching change. It would be more along the lines of "getting the band back together again."
After all, Malzahn was only away from Auburn for one year when he left for Jonesboro, AR to become the head coach of the Arkansas State Red Wolves. His offensive prowess broke school offensive records in 2009 and helped lead Auburn to a BCS Championship in 2010.
Instead of coming in and just keeping things running the way they were, Malzahn proclaimed, "It's a new day," in his introductory press conference.
He has followed through on his promise.
Within hours of being on the job, Malzahn fired the entire coaching staff that worked for former head coach Gene Chizik. It was the right move and the idea of Malzahn not bringing in a culture change went up in a cloud of smoke.
Of course, Malzahn then had to prove he had the ability to hire a top-notch staff. With a cynical eye, my view was that it would be hard for him to do that when he was just coaching high school football less than 10 years ago. There is also the perception that Auburn may be in hot water with the NCAA as there is an ongoing look-see into the Auburn program.
People close to the situation think that nothing will come of it.
Within 48 hours, seasoned coaching veteran Ellis Johnson had joined Malzahn's staff as defensive coordinator. He also brought along his protege and former Auburn graduate assistant, Rhett Lashlee, along with him from Arkansas State to be the offensive coordinator.
Then, to further prove all of us detractors wrong, Malzahn lured Auburn alum and long-time UGA assistant Rodney Garner back to The Plains as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. He also added top recruiter Charlie Harbison from Clemson to coach the safeties and SEC coaching veteran Melvin Smith to coach CBs.
Then came Thursday, January 3. Auburn announced the hiring of long-time NFL coach and special teams guru, Rich Bisaccia, as RBs and special teams coach. He has been coaching special teams at the NFL or college level since 1989. That is longer than any player on Auburn's roster has been alive.
Malzahn's staff has begun to turn some heads.
Auburn's hiring Rich Bisaccia as new STC from NFL. Lots of coaches I know rave about him. Malzahn's staff is strong.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 3, 2013
It couldn't get any better, could it? Wrong again.
After being dismissed a few weeks ago by former Auburn QB Dameyune Craig to return home from FSU to coach WRs, Malzahn showed his stubbornness and determination to get the acclaimed recruiter back to the loveliest village.
Craig could not say no a second time. He will be Auburn's WR coach and co-offensive coordinator. He will be the first African-American with a coordinator title in Auburn history. Auburn announced the hiring of Craig on Friday as Auburn fans rejoiced.
It's been a wild ride since Auburn hired Malzahn.
Despite the fact that he has not coached a game as Auburn's head coach, Malzahn continues to prove his detractors wrong.
I like my crow medium-rare, please.
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