Gus Malzahn the latest to leave Auburn

December, 14, 2011
12/14/11
11:28
AM ET
Auburn now finds itself down two coordinators.

The latest to leave was offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who will be introduced later Wednesday as Arkansas State’s new head coach.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof left last week to take the UCF defensive coordinator’s job, meaning Auburn head coach Gene Chizik will serve as defensive coordinator for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

[+] EnlargeGus Malzahn
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireGus Malzahn will be introduced Wednesday as the new head coach at Arkansas State.
Roof was a convenient target this season for fans. He was coaching a young defense that made a ton of mistakes and gave up even more yards.

When you finish 11th in the league in scoring defense and total defense and last in pass defense, memories tend to grow shorter, especially in this league.

Nobody remembers Roof as the guy who put together the defensive plan that held Oregon to 19 points in last season’s BCS National Championship Game. They remember him as the guy whose defense gave up nearly 30 points per game this season.

It’s a classic case of what have you done for me lately.

And in Malzahn’s case, he was simply ready for a change. More specifically, he was ready to take his shot as a head coach in the college ranks.

Malzahn turned down a $3 million per year opportunity to be Vanderbilt’s head coach last year. He was right on the cusp of taking the job, but then changed his mind at the last minute.

Auburn raised his salary to $1.3 million per year, making him the highest paid coordinator of any kind in the SEC.

Needless to say, Arkansas State isn’t paying that kind of cash, which tells you this move is about a lot more than money for Malzahn.

Arkansas is home for him, and it’s a chance to run his own program.

Already, some have questioned the wisdom of this move. After all, Malzahn turned down an SEC job last year and was in play at North Carolina earlier this year.

Many in and around the North Carolina program think Malzahn would have gotten that job had it not been for the video that surfaced of Malzahn’s wife, Kristi, being interviewed at a Christian Leadership Summit.

That’s unfortunate, because anybody who’s ever met her or been around her knows that she’s nothing like how she came across in that video that made the rounds on the Internet.

In fact, the Malzahns have done their best to avoid the spotlight. That’s not their style.

Malzahn is the antithesis of a self-promoter, the kind of coach who keeps his head down, does his job and shies away from the cameras.

It’s one of the many things that’s refreshing about him.

And while his entry into the college head-coaching fraternity may not have played out the way everybody thought it would, the winner here is clearly Arkansas State.

The Red Wolves are getting a good coach and a good man.

Chris Low | email

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