Category Archives: Auburn’s Cast of Thousands

The Gus Bus is hiring a new driver.

Talk about your late night news dump, this popped up about 10PM yesterday.

Rhett Lashlee is leaving his offensive coordinator position at Auburn to take the same position at the University of Connecticut.

The move was announced officially by the Huskies program on Twitter Wednesday evening after Fox Sports reporter Bruce Fedman originally broke the story minutes before.

A lateral move out of the SEC to a program that’s one of the lesser lights in the FBS?  Wut? Malzahn explains.

“This is a great opportunity for Rhett to implement and run his own offense. I’ve known Rhett for two decades and he’s a man of great character and integrity and this is another step towards his goal to become a head coach. I want to thank Rhett for all of his contributions and his friendship. I want to wish he and his wife Lauren all the best in this new endeavor.”

Yeah, sure.  And before you ask, no, it’s not about money.

According to USA Today’s latest database numbers, Lashlee’s annual salary last season was $601,500 with the possibility of additional bonuses that could go as high as $190,000. According to ESPN.com college football reporter Brett McMurphy, Lashlee is reportedly taking a sizable pay cut in his new position at Connecticut. McMurphy reported Wednesday night that Lashlee has agreed to a three-year deal with an annual salary of $350,000.

A fifty percent pay cut doing the same job at a shittier program is a great opportunity?  Cold translation:  don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, son.

Now I doubt this is something that just came to Malzahn in the middle of the night, so the timing is noteworthy, in that five-star stud quarterback Jarrett Stidham is now safely in the Auburn fold.  What’s the big deal there?  Oh, not much.

Remember, kid, what they always tell you:  you commit to the school, not the coach.  Gus will explain it to you if you don’t understand.

Which brings us to the question who will have the opportunity to get close to Stidham, now that his former flame be gone.  The list of suspects is about what you’d expect, guys like former Auburn quarterback Dameyune Craig, Jake Spavital (who’s looking for a job now), Arizona State’s offensive coordinator, Art Briles… HOLY CRAP GUS MALZAHN MIGHT HIRE ART BRILES.

I mean, what could possibly be wrong with Art Briles?  He’s an offensive genius.

Briles has had a connection with Malzahn dating back years when the two staffs began trading playbook ideas with each other. Both staffs have made trips to each other’s campuses to go over new and innovative ideas with their similar offenses. And that right there is probably where this connection stops making sense. In case you’d forgotten, and I doubt many folks have, an independent review by the Pepper Hamilton law firm found that Baylor football coaches and staff interfered with investigations into sexual assault complaints against players, and even impeded potential criminal proceedings. The firm released a 13-page report on May 26, the same day Briles was immediately suspended before reaching a mutual agreement with the school for his departure about a month later. Briles hasn’t been interviewed for a job in college football since the Pepper Hamilton report was released. It would be a near impossibility for Auburn to explain this hire from a public relations standpoint.

Hey, we’re in the age of Trump.  Nobody has to explain anything anymore.  And you have to admit it would sure make Stidham comfy.

It would be the ultimate Second Chance U move, and if there’s any school more into second chances than Auburn, I’d be hard-pressed to name it.

If Jimmy Sexton manages to pull this off, he’s a wizard.

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UPDATE:  I’m shocked, shocked by the early results in this reader poll.

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UPDATE #2:  “No way on Art,” a high-level source told Auburn Undercover on Thursday.  Thanks for getting everyone’s hopes up.

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Auburn delenda est on the recruiting trail?

MaconDawg makes the argument that if recruiting in the state of Georgia is something of a zero sum game, then what’s good for Kirby Smart is bad for Gus Malzahn.

The commonality among those classes? Auburn’s ability to snatch 4-6 blue chip prospects from the state to the east made the difference between a top 10 signing class and one that would have finished outside the national top 20, and near the bottom of the SEC West. And it’s not as if Auburn has been signing the players Georgia passed on. By my count no more than five of the big time recruits listed above did not also have an offer from the Bulldogs. While Auburn’s recruiting “home base” is arguably lower Alabama, Georgia is a close second. When Auburn has recruited well overall, it has recruited Georgia well.

Which is why Gus Malzahn really needs 2017 to be a one-off on the recruiting trail. Auburn has twenty commits for the class of 2017. Only three are from Georgia, none ranked above three stars.

With the possible exception of Crisp County’s Markaviest Bryant (who’s deciding soon from among UGA, Auburn, and LSU), it doesn’t appear that the Tigers are in the running for any blue chip Georgia players. Tray Bishop had been one of the most highly rated players in the 2017 Tiger class, until he flipped his commitment to UGA.

247 currently ranks Auburn’s class a respectable 8th in the nation, including heralded JUCO QB Jarrett Stidham. But that doesnt really tell the full story. Five of the ten teams ranked directly behind the Plainsmen have sixteen or fewer commits. Some will likely add commits and pass them (USC, Penn State, Washington, and obviously Clemson all have significant momentum). In short, Auburn may be about to finish outside the top 10 in recruiting rankings for the first time in a while.

Obviously one year doth not a trend make, but if Rodney Garner, of all people, can’t make hay in Georgia, it’ll be interesting to see what steps, if any, Auburn can take to offset the talent drain from its eastern neighbor.

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“Time to start my next chapter at Auburn University. War Eagle!”

With the news that former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham has decided to take his talents to Auburn, I have a weird question — maybe not important, but definitely weird.  Has Gus Malzahn ever signed a high school quarterback who he’s developed into a good college quarterback?

Like I said, I doubt it means much in the vast scheme of things, but I can’t think of one.  Any examples out there?

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“Like I said, I’m going to get a chance. It’s no secret I’m going to get a chance at the next level.”

Because the future is brightest for once-touted Heisman Trophy candidates who find themselves demoted to third string.

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Malzahn’s Kryptonite

Danielson made a big deal out of Kirby Smart’s experience defending Malzahn’s offense, but in reality, Saturday was more of a continuation of Georgia’s good work than merely that.

Of the six games in which Auburn has failed to register at least 300 yards of total offense under coach Gus Malzahn have come against Georgia. The Bulldogs held the Tigers to their puniest output in Malzahn’s tenure at 164 yards in a 13-7 victory over Auburn on Saturday. Georgia was the first team to hold Malzahn’s Tigers to fewer than 300 yards during their 2014 visit to Sanford Stadium, when Auburn gained 292 yards in a 34-7 loss. In 2015, Georgia held Auburn to 275 yards in the Bulldogs’ 20-13 victory. LSU and Alabama limited the Tigers to 260 yards last season, which had been Auburn’s low under Malzahn until Saturday’s game. Georgia held Auburn without a first down in the second half on Saturday.

Not so tough without that rabbit’s foot.

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Rub a little dirt on it and get back in the game, son.

Sean White’s health in the Georgia game was so dire that he’s still in the mix to start this week.

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OutSmarted

One thing you have to say about Kevin Scarbinsky’s troll game — he’s definitely a quick twitch guy.

Auburn interviewed Smart before it hired Malzahn – a fact not lost on Auburn fans – and it won’t take many losses in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry before some fans wonder if their school made the wrong choice. Some already are wondering.

Alabama’s not going away as long as Saban stays, and Georgia’s only going to get better under Smart so Auburn has a real challenge on its hands.

What are the Tigers going to do about it?

No doubt Jay Jacobs is on the mother.

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