AUBURN, Ala. — Look, I wasn’t here covering Tigers football when Gene Chizik hired Tommy Thigpen to his original staff in 2009, or when Mike Pelton came home to Auburn in 2011, or when Brian VanGorder and Willie Martinez hopped on in a transition offseason of 2012.
I don’t know how long each of their replacements will be here.
But what I do know is Gus Malzahn clearly wants continuity on this coaching staff – Rhett Lashlee, Kodi Burns and Ryan Russell, anybody? Should Arkansas State’s caterer start househunting in Auburn? – and he clearly gave Ellis Johnson the rope to do the same.
The former defensive regime had six decades of coaching experience: two each for VanGorder and Martinez, who each bounced around in the NFL, mid-majors in Michigan and high school ball, and one each for Thigpen and Pelton.
The current defensive regime has ten decades of coaching experience: three for Johnson, two each for Charlie Harbison, Rodney Garner and Melvin Smith, all with extensive experience coaching here in this very Southeastern Conference.
The former defensive regime’s combined SEC coaching years going into 2012: 17.
The current defensive regime’s combined SEC coaching years going into 2013: 68.
Seventeen times four is sixty-eight.
NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXPERIENCE
The rundown of Auburn’s defensive staff for the 2013 football season
Coach Hire date Position Age Coach years SEC years
Ellis Johnson Dec. 6 Def. Coord./LBs 61 31 16
Charlie Harbison Dec. 9 Co-DC/safeties 53 21 11
Rodney Garner Dec. 20 Asst. HC/D-Line 46 23 23
Melvin Smith Tuesday Cornerbacks 54 23 18
TOTAL 98 68
Here’s another eerie nugget which might have a lot to do with Malzahn/Johnson’s hirings, or might not:
Mississippi State beat Auburn in but one football game from 2001-11. That’s one win and ten losses for the Bulldogs. The lone victory was in 2007: MSU 19, Auburn 14, at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
On staff for that Mississippi State team, under Sylvester Croom? Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, safeties coach Charlie Harbison, cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith and offensive line coach J.B. Grimes.
All four are now in orange and blue.
What’s next in the parade from Starkville to Auburn? Is the War Eagle flight going to be accompanied by cowbells?
(Don’t answer that.)