Caldwell Column: Malzahn's Coaching Search

Jason Caldwell gives his views on Gus Malzahn's efforts to hire assistant coaches for the new Auburn football staff.

Auburn, Ala.—On December 4th Auburn announced the hiring of Gus Malzahn as the school's 26th head football coach following the firing of Gene Chizik. Just five days later Malzahn already had offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and defensive assistant Charlie Harbison on board.

Things looked to be sailing along smoothly for Malzahn in his first year back at Auburn and fans had dreams of having the entire coaching staff named and in place in a matter of days. Instead, over a week later the assistant coaching total still remains at three as Malzahn looks to round out his coaching staff for the 2013 season.

Is the lack of coaching hires a cause for concern? In a word, no. While some coaches around the country hire an entire staff in a matter of days, just as many take their time to make the right hires to fit the program they want to run.

All you have to do is look back four years ago to see how Chizik handled the very same scenario. Hired on December 13th to replace Tommy Tuberville, Chizik didn't hire his first assistant coach until three days after Christmas when Malzahn came on board. Curtis Luper wasn't hired until January 2nd with Trooper Taylor later on January 5th.

Gus Malzahn coached at Arkansas State.

Chizik's defensive staff didn't begin to take shape until hiring Ted Roof on January 6. Almost a week later Tracy Rocker joined the Auburn staff while Tommy Thigpen and Phillip Lolley didn't come on board until the second week of February.

In the end Chizik took 64 days to complete his staff completed and turn his full attention to getting the Tigers ready for his first season as head coach on the Plains.

The biggest drawback for many wondering what has taken Malzahn so long is the effect on recruiting. Auburn's 2013 class was poised to be one of the best in the country earlier this season, but the firing of Chizik and the staff has changed the equation.

That is normal when a program is going through such a major coaching change, but with 50 days until signing day in February there is still plenty of time for Auburn's recruiting efforts to get on the right track. Despite such a late start in 2009 Chizik's first recruiting class was ranked 16th in the country by Scout.com, proving it can be done.

I'm not saying this class will finish that high or that Malzahn is still months away from finishing a staff, but what it means is that there is no right way to hire a staff or a right time to do so.

If I have learned anything about Malzahn in the three years he was an assistant for the Tigers and with what he has done since he has returned to Auburn, it's that he is methodical and doesn't let any stone go unturned to get the job done. Just like he runs an offense, his coaching search will be thorough and he won't cut any corners to be successful.


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories