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November 15, 2011

Gene Chizik says in the event of Gus Malzahn leaving, he has potential replacements in mind

Photo by Todd Van Emst

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is a hot name in coaching circles, and with the college football coaching carousel getting revved up, Malzahn’s name has been mentioned as a possibility for several coaching jobs, including North Carolina, Ole Miss and others.

Malzahn’s name has been linked on some websites with North Carolina because the athletic director who hired Malzahn at Tulsa, Bubba Cunningham, is now North Carolina’s athletic director, and the Tar Heels are playing under interim coach Everett Withers right now.

Ole Miss has also been mentioned as a fit by many media outlets because the Rebels are believed to want an offensive coach.

If Malzahn leaves, Chizik said, he has potential replacements in mind.

“You have several guys in the back of your mind,” Chizik said.

Asked whether or not he has contingency plans in place in case Malzahn leaves for a head coaching job before the bowl game, Chizik said it’s something a head coach has to be prepared for with anybody on the staff.

“I think I have to be prepared for anybody on the staff to have opportunities at other places,” Chizik said.

More from Chizik’s weekly press conference is below. Make sure to follow the blog on Twitter.

  • On Auburn legend Pat Sullivan, who will be honored 25 minutes before the game Saturday: “Everybody knows what a phenomenal football player he was here and what he did for Auburn University,” Chizik said. “What he did for this university and what he means to the fans… I’m thrilled for him to be celebrated in this way.”
  • Chizik said he’s known Sullivan for a long time through coaching circles, mutual acquaintances, that sort of thing.
  • On former Auburn GA Rhett Lashlee, who is now the Samford offensive coordinator: “Rhett’s an extremely bright young football coach,” Chizik said. “Rhett is a future star in this business.”
  • On the corner rotation to replace T’Sharvan Bell, Chizik said nothing has changed since Sunday. Jermaine Whitehead, Robenson Therezie and Jonathan Mincy are battling for playing time in practice this week.
  • Chizik said that Auburn has done a bad job coming back from bad plays: “When something negative has happened, usually a turnover or big play versus the defense, we’ve had a hard time coming out of that.”
  • On running back Michael Dyer going over the 1,000-yard mark, Chizik said that the up-and-down nature of Dyer’s season has probably hurt his nationwide recognition: “To use the word quietly rushed for 1,000 yards, I would say that’s accurate. But he has rushed for 1,000 yards, and that’s a big deal.”
  • Asked about whether or not Auburn would simply try to put Saturday’s game behind them, Chizik said a loss like the one Auburn took against Georgia is an opportunity to teach. “You’ve got to address the issues. You’ve got to point out to your team, when we are not good, why was that? You can’t just move on.”
  • Chizik said the younger guys on the team will benefit from going through bad losses this season. When young guys — and he singled out Carver graduate Gabe Wright — look back on this season, Chizik said, they’ll realize they gained valuable experience.
  • Leadership was a big emphasis on why Auburn has struggled on the road so far. An experience-laden team like last year’s, Chizik said, is better equipped bounce back, because they’ve already been through the valleys. This team is still young enough that most of the players are still learning how to bounce back from those valleys.


  1. Ole Miss would be dead end job as they will never be competitive in SEC play.

    Comment by Greg Jobe — November 15, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  2. Malzahn seems pretty satisfied currently – he seems genuine when he says he likes living in Auburn and coaching at Auburn. I think with his personality, he actually prefers being the OC (particularly as well-paid as he is) rather than dealing with all the HC issues, plus he has an investment and great opportunity in the potential of young players and recruits like Kiehl Frazier and Zeke Pike. That being said, while I’m not worried by the Ole Miss job, UNC makes me nervous. That would be an excellent opportunity at a top university in a winnable conference and I believe Chapel Hill is rated pretty well for livability a well.

    After another season or two, I could see Lashlee as the leading replacement candidate considering he’s a Malzahn protege, but he could be tough hire if needed next year due to his youth/inexperience. Chad Morris would be another good choice, but he probably likes what he has at Clemson at the moment. Michael Norvell, Co-OC at Pitt under Todd Graham worked under Malzahn at Tulsa and Pitt is running a very similar offense, although similar to Lashlee, this is his first season at the coordinator level.

    Comment by Jay G. — November 15, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

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