Auburn Notebook: DC Thoughts, Bowl and More

Thoughts on Auburn's defensive coordinator search, possible bowl opponents, a standout 2016 wide receiver and more.

It has been a week since Ellis Johnson was fired as Auburn’s defensive coordinator and almost since it was announced the name of Will Muschamp has been on the minds of Tiger fans. Taking a break since being fired at Florida, Muschamp has a history at Auburn and would form a strong coaching duo with Gus Malzahn.

Will Muschamp is shown during his tenure as head coach at Florida.

While it hasn’t been announced yet I still think it’s the most likely scenario moving forward for Auburn, but there are still some things to be ironed out before that can happen. It could be later in the week before we learn the direction for the Tigers, but I won’t be surprised if we have a "Boom" coming from the Auburn Athletic Complex before bowl practices begin next weekend.

Going Bowling

With the regular season now complete the bowl picture will take shape on Sunday and the two most likely destinations for Auburn are the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville and the Music City Bowl in Nashville, but I wouldn't rule out the Outback Bowl if the SEC gets three teams in playoff bowls. The former Gator Bowl would be a nice change for Auburn fans with the last trip to Jacksonville coming in 1974. A possible opponent in the game could be Boston College with the Big 10 likely getting two teams in playoff bowls after the final four. It would be the first matchup between the Tigers and Eagles since the Tangerine Bowl in 1982. Other possibilities are Maryland, Iowa, and Minnesota if the Big 10 gets the nod. Maryland is 7-5 on the season while the Golden Gophers have been one of the surprise teams in the country this year with losses to TCU, Ohio State and Wisconsin contributing to their 8-4 record.

A trip to Nashville might be the most enticing one for the Tigers and the fans with a game against Notre Dame a possibility. That is the game Auburn would love to have, the first-ever game against the Fightin' Irish. This season Coach Brian Kelly’s team limped home to a 7-5 finish with an injury-depleted defense giving up a boatload of points. A chance to play against former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder would make for an interesting sidebar if the two teams met on Dec. 30 in the Music City. There is a chance the Fightin' Irish could be the opponent in Jacksonville as well, but more likely Nashville is their landing spot.

The wildcard is the entire bowl scenario is Louisville. With Coach Bobby Petrino back coaching the Cardinals and Mike Dyer running the ball, it would make for must-see TV in a bowl game. However, with the two programs set to meet in Atlanta to open the 2015 season I can't see the SEC or the Chick-fil-A people excited about making that happen in a bowl game this year and taking away the story line for the opener next year.

Big-Game Wide Receiver

Auburn already has a playmaker at wide receiver in the 2016 class in Tampa’s Nate Craig. A five-star, he’s a dynamic receiver, but may have some challenge from an in-state talent before things are said and done. T.J. Simmons from Clay-Chalkville was one of the most impressive players in the Super 7 at Jordan-Hare Stadium and is just the type of physical receiver that Malzahn and Dameyune Craig are looking for in the Auburn offense.

Catching five passes for 165 yards and a touchdown, Simmons was one of the top players of the week regardless of classification. At 6-3 already with good size and strength, I’ll be surprised if he’s not a four-star player for next year’s class and one of the top wide receiver targets in the country. With quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome back as well as 2016 receiver Nico Collins, Clay-Chalkville has a chance to be one of the most prolific teams in state history.

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