When it comes to Auburn’s hiring decision in the wake of Chizik’s departure, Kevin Scarbinsky weaves an intriguing tale.
Look at the facts alone, and it’s tempting to say Auburn made a mistake when it chose Malzahn over Smart. The truth is more elusive.
After talking to people familiar with Auburn’s 2012 coaching search then and now, it’s possible to draw two conclusions. Malzahn was the preferred if not preordained choice from the start. Smart had too many demands and issues for Auburn’s taste.
One example: Smart wanted full control to hire his own staff. As logical as that requirement may seem, Auburn decision-makers were used to having significant input in that regard. They had identified Malzahn as the offensive coordinator they wanted on Chizik’s staff.
A person familiar with Smart’s Auburn interview said he told the search committee, if hired, he would tap longtime friend Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator. The committee didn’t like that idea, given Bobo’s mixed results as a playcaller at Georgia.
Another 2012 concern: Auburn’s inner circle feared that, if Georgia were to part company with Mark Richt in the near future, Smart would leave Auburn for Athens in a heartbeat to take his dream job as head coach at his alma mater.
Throw in Smart’s demands that he get a full accounting of the NCAA’s investigation of Auburn at the time and that, if hired, he be allowed to coach the Alabama defense through the BCS Championship Game – neither of which was acceptable to Auburn – and there were simply too many obstacles for both sides to overcome.
That’s interesting in terms of looking back — Smart and Bobo at Auburn? Would
Smart Bobo leave Richt for a lateral hire, even if the powers that be at Auburn relented? — in terms of looking to the present — Georgia was a lot more compliant in the face of similar demands than was Auburn — and, finally, the future.
I mentioned it before, and Seth Emerson touches on the potential financial aspects here, but the offseason negotiations between Smart and McGarity (and their surrounding casts) will be something else, I suspect.