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Auburn fires head coach Gus Malzahn after 8 seasons

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Auburn has fired head coach Gus Malzahn.

The university announced the decision on Sunday, a day after Malzahn completed his eighth season with the program. Over that span, Malzahn coached the Tigers to a 68-35 overall record with a 39-27 mark in SEC play. Auburn played in the BCS title game in 2013, his first season, but lost to Florida State. Malzahn also led Auburn to the SEC championship game in 2017, losing to Georgia.

The Tigers beat Mississippi State, 24-10, on Saturday to finish the 2020 regular season with a 6-4 record.

Per a university release, Auburn athletic director Allen Greene recommended a change to school president Jay Gogue after a “thorough analysis” of the football program.

Malzahn will be paid the remainder of his contract, Auburn said. Malzahn is owed $10.5 million in the next 30 days and more than $21 million total.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn watches during the second half of an NCAA college football game against LSU on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn watches during the second half of an NCAA college football game against LSU on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

“After evaluating the state of the Auburn football program, we’ve decided that it was time to make a change in leadership,” Greene said. “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.”

Added Gogue:

“Coach Malzahn led the Auburn football program with honor and integrity. We appreciate his service to Auburn Athletics, Auburn University and, in particular, our student-athletes. We wish him and Kristi all the best.”

Malzahn’s up-and-down tenure

Malzahn inherited a program that won three games in Gene Chizik’s final season and led an improbable run to an SEC title and the national championship game in his first season. That was the season that included miracle wins against Georgia and Alabama with the famous “Kick Six.”

He never replicated that success.

Auburn went 8-5, 7-6 and 8-5 in its next three seasons from 2014-16. The 2015 season featured a lackluster 2-5 record in SEC play.

The Tigers rebounded with 10 wins in 2017, including a win over No. 1 Alabama in the final weekend of the regular season to win the SEC West title. Auburn followed that up with a 28-7 loss to Georgia in the SEC championship game and another loss to UCF in the Peach Bowl.

From there, it was more middle-of-the-road SEC finishes and the talk about Malzahn’s job security became a common topic.

Now, even in a pandemic-affected season, the Auburn brass decided it was time to make a change.

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