Sallee: Malzahn Made The Right Decision
Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn
Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn
Posted Dec 14, 2010

CFN SEC columnist Barrett Sallee takes a look at Gus Malzahn's decision to pass up a chance to be the head coach at Vanderbilt in favor of remaining the offensive coordinator on the Plains.

Reach me via e-mail at or on Twitter @BarrettSallee

Gus Malzahn did the right thing by rejecting the offer to become the head coach at Vanderbilt and staying on as offensive coordinator of the Auburn Tigers. Yeah, the money and power might be a little bit better in Nashville, but it's far more likely that his time at Vanderbilt would hurt his long-term career prospects than it is by staying at Auburn.

Critics will point to the fact that Malzahn probably won't have quarterback Cam Newton around next year leading his offense, and that he might not be worth the $1.3 million per year extension that he received from Auburn. That's a bit short-sighted. When given full control of his offense, Malzahn has been nothing short of spectacular as a college offensive coordinator.

It's not the quarterback that makes Malzahn's offense click, it's the coach. In 2009 Malzahn took a roster that featured Chris Todd at quarterback and turned it into the most prolific offense in Auburn history. Let's not forget that he took over an Auburn offense that couldn't move the ball against air in 2008, and had essentially the same personnel. That 2008 offense caused the midseason firing of offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and subsequent resignation of former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville. It was a train wreck, and Malzahn got it back track in one season.

In the two years prior to joining the Auburn staff, Malzahn coordinated a Tulsa offense that led the nation in total offense. In 2007, his Tulsa offense became the first offense in college football history to have a 5,000-yard passer, three 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. Think about that for a second to let it sink in.

Unlike Steve Addazio, Malzahn is capable of adjusting his offense around his personnel, so losing Newton shouldn't be a major problem.

What seems to be lost in this is the statement that was made with Malzahn's decision. With so many people assuming that the NCAA hammer may drop on Auburn because of Mississippi State's recruitment of Cam Newton, Malzahn chose to pass up more money and power to stay at Auburn for another year. That tells me that he's not concerned about the NCAA at all – and he probably knows more than the rest of us.

Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee

Click here for the 2010 Three & Out archive

2010 Column Archive:
Malzahn Makes The Right Move – December 14, 2010
Five Thoughts on Muschamp – December 12, 2010
CFN Analysis: Florida Hires Muschamp – December 12, 2010
CFN Analysis: Cam's Heisman Landslide – December 11, 2010
Five Thoughts On Urban Meyer – December 9, 2010
Meyer Leaves Legacy, Question Marks – December 8, 2010
Newton Scandal Is Full Of Questions – November 5, 2010
UNC's Problems Could Hurt Les Miles – August 31, 2010
Predicting The SEC – August 23, 2010
Top Five Games Inside The SEC – August 22, 2010
Ranking The SEC Out-Of-Conference Games – August 21, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part IV – August 10, 2010
SEC Teams In The Coaches Poll – August 7, 2010
Ranking The SEC Head Coaches – August 2, 2010
SEC Media Days: Day 3 Recap – July 23, 2010
SEC Media Days: Day 2 Recap – July 22, 2010
SEC Media Days: Day 1 Recap – July 21, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part III – July 13, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part II – June 21, 2010
Auburn Gets The Last Laugh – June 10, 2010
Realignment – What Should The SEC Do? – June 9, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part I – June 7, 2010
Richt On The Hot Seat? – June 3, 2010
Auburn Dismisses Redshirt Freshman RB – May 21, 2010
SEC Hires of the Decade – The Bottom Five – May 14, 2010
Top 5 SEC Hires of the Decade – May 5, 2010
Georgia In A Gray Area – April 26, 2009
Taunting Rule Goes Too Far – April 16, 2009
Memorable SEC Press Conferences – February 20, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 2 – February 18, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 1 – February 16, 2009
Florida Reaches For DC – February 12, 2009
Vols Go West For New DC – February 3, 2009
Early 2010 SEC Predictions – January 31, 2010
Chizik Doing It Right – January 21, 2010
Georgia's DC Debacle – January 12, 2010
SEC Bloggers: Do Over – January 8, 2010
Trouble In Baton Rouge – January 2, 2010
Meyer Calls A Reverse – December 27, 2009
Urban Meyer's SEC Legacy – December 26, 2009
End Of The Season Accountability – December 26, 2009
Ranking The SEC Bowl Games – December 18, 2009
2009 SEC Superlatives – December 13, 2009

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