After eight seasons, two SEC West crowns, a conference title and a trip to the BCS National Championship game, Auburn is making a change.
Gus Malzahn has been fired as the head coach of the football program, athletics director Allen Greene announced Sunday. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will serve as the interim coach.
“After evaluating the state of the Auburn football program, we’ve decided that it was time to make a change in leadership,” Greene said in a statement. “We appreciate everything that Gus did for the program over the last eight seasons. We will begin a search immediately for a coach that can help the Auburn program consistently compete at the highest level.” The decision was made after the Tigers completed a 6-4 regular season with a 24-10 win at Mississippi State. Malzahn celebrated it by dancing with his players in the visitor’s locker room at Davis-Wade Stadium. The rug was pulled out less than 24 hours later.
Malzahn, 55, just finished in the third year of a seven-year, $49 million signed following the 2017 season. It carries a buyout of more than $21 million, half of which is due within 30 days. That is a lot of money to commit to a coaching change, especially during a year where COVID-19 has had a significant impact on finances within the athletic department. But it’s a move the powers that be in Auburn clearly felt had to be made as frustrations around the program continued to rise.
“Coach Malzahn led the Auburn football program with honor and integrity,” president Jay Gogue said in a statement. We appreciate his service to Auburn Athletics, Auburn University and, in particular, our student-athletes. We wish him and Kristi all the best.” Malzahn was a successful coach on the Plains. He was the offensive coordinator under Gene Chizik when the Tigers won the 2010 BCS National Championship behind Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton. He returned as the head coach in 2013 — following a season at Arkansas State — and immediately led Auburn to another one of the most successful seasons in program history.
A 12-2 record behind a dynamic offense led by dual-threat quarterback Nick Marshall and record-setting running back Tre Mason. Two of the most incredible wins in program history over Georgia (the Prayer at Jordan-Hare) and Alabama (the Kick Six). An eighth SEC Championship. A date with Florida State in the BCS National Championship game.