Gus Malzahn returned to Auburn University after just one season with Arkansas State. The former offensive coordinator of the Tigers’ national championship team led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record last season, while Auburn struggled their way to a 3-9 finish.
Despite the poor record, Malzahn may actually be inheriting a talented roster which he is most responsible for. Following their 2010 BCS championship season, the Tigers finished with one of the top recruiting classes in 2011.
Malzahn, who won the Broyles Award for college football’s top recruiter in 2010, now takes over as Auburn’s head coach with a more familiar roster than other first-year coaches. Being just one year removed between tenures, Malzahn has prior experience working with and/or recruiting the majority of Auburn’s players.
Malzahn may also be walking into an even better opportunity than it seems at first glance. 2013 will mark the 2011 recruiting class’ third year with the program. Many of the top-ranked national high school prospects will likely reach their full potential during their junior and senior seasons. Therefore, Auburn could possibly see a huge turnaround out of the gates with Malzahn.
He is also familiar with the program itself, which could prove to be another important factor. Since he is already adjusted to the Auburn culture and expectations, Malzahn will know what to expect during his first season as the team’s head coach.
Despite their poor record, Auburn could be a surprise team in the SEC West this season. Malzahn has an impressive track record of providing an immediate turnaround to down-and-out programs.