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January 4, 2013

The complete rundown of Auburn’s 2013 coaches, loaded with experienced recruiters

Gus Malzahn 18

AUBURN, Ala. – Every man Gus Malzahn has hired to his staff the past month either carries with him a pedigree the length of a football field, represents a puzzle piece that fits Auburn perfectly on paper, or both.

The ten Auburn coaches – Malzahn and nine assistants – have been in college coaching for a combined 197 years, including 99 in the SEC in some capacity.

There are two leading coordinators – Ellis Johnson on defense, Rhett Lashlee on offense.

There are two co-coordinators – Charlie Harbison on defense, Dameyune Craig on offense.

There is an associate head coach – Rodney Garner – and an assistant head coach – Rich Bisaccia.

There are two Auburn alums – Craig and Garner.

There are two coming straight from Arkansas State along with Malzahn – Lashlee and J.B. Grimes.

There are two with interwoven ties with other assistants on staff who will focus on boiled-down position groups – Melvin Smith and Tim Horton.

It seems everyone from CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman and San Diego Chargers (former Auburn) linebacker Takeo Spikes, to athletic director Jay Jacobs and numerous Tigers, approves of the new day in Auburn football.

Here’s the full rundown of Auburn’s 2013 coaching staff:

Gus MalzahnGus Malzahn 11

Position: Head coach

Previous stop: Arkansas State (head coach)

Hire date: Dec. 4

Salary: $2.3 million

Age: 47

College coaching years: 7

SEC coaching years: 4

Auburn ties? Offensive coordinator, 2009-11

Why he’s here: Combine his SEC roots, his recruiting acumen, his age, his familiarity with the Tigers, and his passion for hiring men of character, and he made the most sense for Auburn


Ellis Johnson

Ellis Johnson

Positions: Defensive coordinator, linebackers

Previous stop: Southern Miss (head coach)

Hire date: Dec. 6

Salary: $800,000

Age: 61

College coaching years: 31

SEC coaching years: 16

Other coaching ties? Worked with Harbison at Alabama, Clemson & Mississippi State

Why he’s here: A no-nonsense teacher with great respect around the league, will help Malzahn completely focus on fixing the offense



Positions: Offensive coordinator, quarterbacks

Previous stop: Arkansas State (OC)

Hire date: Dec. 7

Salary: $350,000

Age: 29

College coaching years: 7

SEC coaching years: 5 (all as GA)

Auburn ties? Offensive graduate assistant, 2009-10

Why he’s here: Proof positive of Malzahn’s explosive system as a successful high schooler. Can impart that knowledge seamlessly to young quarterbacks Kiehl Frazier, Jonathan Wallace



Charlie Harbison

Positions: Co-defensive coordinator, safeties

Previous stop: Clemson (co-DC)

Hire date: Dec. 9

Salary: Unknown

Age: 53

College coaching years: 21

SEC coaching years: 11

Other coaching ties? Worked with Johnson at Alabama, Clemson & Mississippi State

Why he’s here: Besides his familiarity with Johnson, he was the first of the top recruiters to find their way to the Plains


image (1)J.B. Grimes

Positions: Offensive line

Previous stop: Arkansas State (OL)

Hire date: Dec. 19

Salary: Unknown

Age: 57

College coaching years: 33

SEC coaching years: 6

Other coaching ties? Worked with Johnson, Harbison, Smith at Mississippi State

Why he’s here: A seasoned coach can mold a fairly young unit to fit mentally and physically into Malzahn’s specific blocking methods


GarnerRodney Garner

Positions: Associate head coach, recruiting coordinator, defensive line

Previous stop: Georgia (asst. HC, rec. coord.)

Hire date: Dec. 20

Salary: Unknown

Age: 46

College coaching years: 23

SEC coaching years: 23

Auburn ties? 1988 All-SEC guard, 1990-95 on staff as recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach, assistant strength and conditioning coach

Why he’s here: The heart and soul of this new staff created a somewhat seismic shift in the SEC recruiting landscape. No one will work harder to fix Auburn than Garner


coach_smith_melvinMelvin Smith

Positions: Cornerbacks

Previous stop: Mississippi State (DBs)

Hire date: Dec. 25

Salary: Unknown

Age: 54

College coaching years: 23

SEC coaching years: 18

Other coaching ties? Worked with Johnson, Harbison, Grimes at Mississippi State

Why he’s here: An excellent, proven teacher who will help inexperienced corners learn how to create more turnovers


Bisaccia_Richard_ChargersRich Bisaccia

Positions: Assistant head coach, running backs, special teams

Previous stop: San Diego Chargers (asst. HC, STs)

Hire date: Jan. 3

Salary: Unknown

Age: 52

College coaching years: 19 (plus 11 NFL)

SEC coaching years: 9

Auburn/other coaching ties? None

Why he’s here: Considered a coverage guru, he’ll have to figure out a way to get some explosiveness in the return game. Will also look to take Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne to the next level


Assistant Football Coach Dameyune CraigDameyune Craig

Positions: Co-offensive coordinator, wide receivers

Previous stop: Florida State (QBs, rec. coord.)

Hire date: Jan. 3

Salary: Unknown

Age: 38

College coaching years: 9

SEC coaching years: 1

Auburn ties? 1994-97 quarterback

Why he’s here: Looks to another Auburn great, maybe could use FSU success to rub off on Auburn. Has perhaps the biggest rebuilding job to do with a truly underachieving group of receivers


Tim Horton Running Backs FB 2012-6697Tim Horton

Positions: Tight ends

Previous stop: Arkansas (RBs, rec. coord.)

Hire date: Jan. 4

Salary: Unknown

Age: 45

College coaching years: 23

SEC coaching years: 6

Other coaching ties? A rich history in the state of Arkansas, where Malzahn’s coached for 17 years at college and prep ranks

Why he’s here: Steals Arkansas’ key recruiter, fortifies presence in Memphis, finishes off an embarrassment of riches on the recruitment front


  1. Really good write up. I am a member of 2 pay sites, and I have been impressed with what you have done this year. This is the best summary of the coaching staff that I have seen so far. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Bob — January 5, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

  2. Thanks Aaron, great summary. This group looks impressive, con’t waite until nex year. WAR EAGLE

    Comment by Roger Rader — January 5, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

  3. I’ll second Bob’s statement. Great work, Aaron, always enjoy your work.

    Comment by mark — January 6, 2013 @ 11:19 pm

  4. Great write up Aaron. I am excited about the new staff. Is it September yet…

    Comment by War Eagle Guy — January 7, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

  5. I agree with the previous comment. You have done a wonderful job writing this blog. This is usually my go-to site now. Keep up the great work

    Comment by Aaron — January 9, 2013 @ 11:25 pm

  6. Aaron? Aaron? You there? ;)

    Comment by Tex — January 12, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

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