Auburn was upset by unranked South Carolina 30-22 at Williams-Brice Stadium this past Saturday. It marked the first time the Gamecocks came out on top in the match-up since 1933. As a result, the Tigers are now out of the top 25 and the calls for Gus Malzahn’s job are steadily growing louder and louder.
On Monday, ESPN college football insider Paul Finebaum appeared on WJOX 94.5’s The Roundtable and reacted to the stunning defeat.
“The short-term question about the long-term stability of Auburn remains the same, and is there someone there who is going to change the direction, and I’m not talking about the athletics director because we hear the same thing out of athletics directors at Auburn,” Finebaum said.
“Can we all agree that the athletics director does not call shots or will not call the shots? It’s a problem and there’s no getting around it, and I’ve been pretty steadfast in my support of, ‘Hey Malzahn’s done this and Malzahn’s done that, and the buyout’s too much,’ and I’m sure you already heard it and I’m sure you’ll hear it all day, but the Auburn family is growing very weary.”
Finebaum was also quick to hold Auburn quarterback Bo Nix to account for this weekend’s happenings.
“For all of us that have defended Bo Nix, it’s difficult to defend him after Saturday and you can blame anyone you want and everyone wants to blame Gus Malzahn, but ultimately, you have to make some plays and maybe you have to have better plays to be put in,” he continued.
“The Auburn offense is a mess and I don’t know how this is an easily fixable situation. You start doing the math and you start saying thank goodness for the head official in the Arkansas game or otherwise, we would be talking about a dire situation right now. You have to search three or four years back to see a Gus Malzahn offense working consistently.”
Yikes Aaron Gordon. https://t.co/fmz8bvfSkC
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 16, 2020
Malzahn has been Auburn’s head coach since 2013. In that time he has amassed a record of 64-33, highlighted by a 2014 BCS Championship Game loss at the hands of Jameis Winston and Florida State. Since that outing, he has seemingly perpetually been on the hot seat.
This Saturday’s historically bad showing did not help matters any.
After the fact, Malzahn said all the right things, but obviously it hits a little different following a defeat like the one his team suffered.
“First of all, I’m proud of our guys for fighting until the end,” he said.
Ayesha Curry has a response for everyone hating on her new look. https://t.co/09O5pAvXRP
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 19, 2020
“You know, we didn’t handle adversity great in the third quarter and kind of got behind there and tried to play catch-up. I thought we played pretty good football in the first half. When you look at it, the stat sheet, we played pretty good football, but the three turnovers, obviously, were big. They led to 21 points.
“In the second half we had seven penalties, and I think four led to first downs and kept them on the field, but give South Carolina credit. They played well. They had a good plan. They protected the football for the most part, but it was disappointing loss.”
Malzahn also acknowledged that the team’s ability to limit turnovers was not where it needed to be at this juncture.
A bit of an odd situation. https://t.co/cSGzy8wrAw
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 17, 2020
“You know, it could be just Game 4 and not going through spring, I don’t know, but if you look at the stats sheet, we wanted to be balanced, and for the most part we were. We had 209 yards rushing, 272 (passing),” he continued.
“I thought we did very good on third downs in the first half. I think we were 1-of-5 or 6 in the second half, but you know, you got to give them credit. I think the turnovers were big.”
This coming weekend, Auburn will square off against a 1-3 Ole Miss group that has been absolutely pouring it on squads offensively. If that happens again, and if the Tigers fall to Lane Kiffin, it will suddenly become very difficult to see a scenario where Malzahn ultimately keeps his job.
Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.