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Gus Malzahn cleans house at Auburn by Andy Graham

December 12, 2012
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By Andy Graham | Sportz Blitz

After it was announced that Gus Malzahn was the unanimous selection of the Auburn head-coaching search committee, several logical questions inevitably followed.  Can Malzahn be the kind of head coach who will instill the discipline the Auburn program has been so apparently lacking?  Who will he hire to be his assistant coaches and will he retain any of the former staff?  Will that staff be able to recruit as effectively as the previous staff? Will they be able to develop players better than the previous staff?
All these questions are valid and some have already been answered, but so many of the answers to these pressing questions won’t be known for a year or two down the road.
A football team certainly doesn’t become disciplined overnight after one stern speech from a new head coach.  It will take months and even years of setting an uncompromising and clear standard of conduct.
A new coach isn’t really judged on his first recruiting class either.  Malzahn and his staff won’t truly be under the recruiting microscope until next year and the year after, although they could score some points by holding this year’s class together.
While some questions remain unanswerable at the moment, others have already been addressed with extreme prejudice.  Will Gus Malzahn retain any of the previous staff?  No.
Gus Malzahn has cleaned house in the Auburn coaching staff from assistant head coach Trooper Taylor to longtime strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall and all points in between.
This turn of events has some Auburn fans feeling unsettled to say the least.  Even with the kind of year the Tigers had in 2012, most believe the Auburn roster is not devoid of talent.  The previous staff was criticized for a number of reasons, but there recruiting prowess was never in question.  I know a lot of fans recognize that and thought some carryover of the old staff would be a good idea.  Specifically, a lot of people were hoping Trooper Taylor would be on campus in 2013.
That will not be the case and to be honest, I think that’s probably a good thing.
I’ve always liked Taylor and loved his enthusiasm.  He is unquestionably one of the best college football recruiters in the country, but I believe a fresh start was in order.
One thing I learned watching the Tuberville years was that a coach cannot force assistants on coordinators and coordinators on assistants.  Individually, they may be the best coaches in the world, but if they’re not all on the same page it’s going to be a train wreck.  Unity in a coaching staff can far outweigh the individual talents of one coach.
Another reason it would not have worked to bring Taylor back was Malzahn’s choice of offensive coordinator.
Rhett Lashlee was brought in because he is more familiar with Malzahn’s offense than anyone else in the country and Gus has developed a trusting relationship with him since he was in high school.  Can you imagine Taylor or any other of the previous assistants being introduced to their new 29-year-old boss who was a graduate assistant working under them only two years ago?
Somehow I doubt that situation could possibly have gone smoothly.
Sweeping changes have come to the Auburn Tigers. I never really have liked change, but I like losing even less.


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