Plan B: Who Will Be New Auburn Defensive Coordinator if Muschamp Says No?


Muschamp Watch: Day 9

It’s pretty clear that recently fired Florida head coach Will Muschamp is the best possible candidate to become the new Auburn defensive coordinator. We’ve also got a pretty good idea that Muschamp has at least some interest in the job and that he has been targeted by Gus Malzahn to replace Ellis Johnson on the 2015 coaching staff.

But, Muschamp is a wanted man.

Reportedly, Texas A&M would love to bring Muschamp aboard to replace Mark Snyder and help revive a poor defensive unit that has been anything but the Wrecking Crew in recent years. (PAWL Finebaum thinks A&M is out, though, for what that’s worth).

More from Auburn Football

There’s also potential interest from South Carolina – and even a premature confirmation that Muschamp will join Steve Spurrier in Columbia. Furthermore, Muschamp is taking his time to decide where (if?) he will coach in 2015, and is probably keeping an ear open to interest from the NFL and an eye on the headlines for news of other head coaching opportunities.

Sunday, Malzahn was asked about the ongoing search to replace Johnson.

“Hopefully we can hire someone in the near future,” Malzahn said on the Outback Bowl teleconference. “But I’m not putting a date on it.”

The pessimist in me says the longer Muschamp Watch goes on, the more likely it is Coach Boom doesn’t become a member of the Auburn coaching staff.

What happens if Muschamp says no? Who is Plan B?

Manny Diaz: Personally, my Plan B would be Manny Diaz from Louisiana Tech, whom I mentioned early in the process (Muschamp Watch: Day 2 or 3, I think). In his first season at LA Tech, Diaz helped turn the Bulldogs into one of the most opportunistic defenses in the nation. The team got better as the season went on, and Diaz was a big reason for that.

He also runs a unique system that is difficult for offensive coordinators to break but simple for players to understand. And, he and Malzahn are familiar with one another having coached against each other multiple times, including this season.

Ted Roof: Another name we discussed in the early days after Ellis Johnson was fired was Georgia Tech DC Ted Roof.’s Scott Roussel was the one that floated Roof’s name and made him a potential dark horse candidate.

While it might not please many Auburn football fans, it makes sense, as Roussel said at the time, because Malzahn has a close inner circle. Having worked with Roof at Auburn before, the two have an understanding of each other’s philosophies and work habits.

EDIT: This would be a case of “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Some top-notch defensive coordinators would never consider Auburn because the hurry-up no-huddle has a tendency to make them look bad on paper. Having a defensive coordinator that understands winning games (and National Championships, as Roof helped Auburn do in 2010) is more important than how their unit’s stats look is vital to a healthy working relationship between Malzahn and his new DC.

Anti-Roof Tigers fans will point to Roof’s and Johnson’s numbers at Auburn as poor, but keep in mind that quick-scoring offenses put defenses at a disadvantage because they are on the field more during a game. That said, yes, there are better options than Roof.

Dec 29, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns defesive coordinator Manny Diaz (center) and cornerback Quandre Diggs (6) react against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half of the Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome. Texas beat Oregon State 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Aranda: A name that came up a lot more before his defense allowed 59 points to a third-string quarterback led Ohio State squad was Wisconsin’s Dave Aranda. A 3-4 coach, Aranda followed head coach Gary Anderson from Utah State and has spend the majority of his coaching career in the West.

Aranda is a California native with early stints at Texas Tech and Houston prior to small school stops at Cal Lutheran and Delta State (MS). He was the defensive line coach at Hawaii from 2008-09 and the coordinator there in 2010-11 before hooking up with Anderson.

He’s had success: his 2010 unit led the nation in turnovers, and the following year the Warriors ranked in the nation’s top 15 in sacks. At Utah State, Aranda’s unit ranked in the top ten in scoring defense, sacks and pass efficiency defense, and in the top 15 in rushing defense and total defense. Last season the Badgers ranked in the nation’s top 20, held seven teams to ten points or less and allowed 12.1 points per game overall.

Even after allowing 59 points Saturday, Wisconsin currently ranks 13th nationally having allowed 20 points on average, and the Buckeyes were the first team to score more than 28 points this season. This year, the Badgers have allowed 283.2 yards per game, have forced 24 turnovers and have sacked the quarterback 36 times.

However, Aranda doesn’t have a lot of experience recruiting in the south. His current recruiting territory is central Florida, but as previously mentioned, he’s spent most of his time in the west. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t do it, it only means there are other coaches with a lot more experience in this part of the world.

Bo Pelini: Not going to happen.

Tyson Summers: An up and coming name in defensive coaching is UCF defensive coordinator Tyson Summers. He took the interim DC title just before Fiesta Bowl preparations last season, and helped shut down Baylor in that game. Summers earned the full-time job at the conclusion of spring practice in 2014.

Because he has only one season as a DC under his belt, Summers is a long shot to land the job at Auburn, but he’s a name to keep an eye on. This season, UCF held opponents to 17.9 points per game and a very impressive 282.8 total yards per game, including fewer than 100 yards on average. The Knights had 33 sacks and 18 interceptions this season. Impressive.

Live Feed

Auburn vs. Texas A&M Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 4
Auburn vs. Texas A&M Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 4 /


  • 2023 Week 4 AP Poll Top 25: Every SEC team’s highest, lowest spot on ballotSouth Bound & Down
  • SEC Football: Florida, LSU rise in Week 4 2023 power rankingsSouth Bound & Down
  • SEC Tailgating: Where should you go in each town?South Bound & Down
  • SEC football standings based on yards per play through Week 2FanSided
  • Auburn Basketball: Projected starting lineup and depth chart for 2023-24 seasonBusting Brackets
  • Barry Odom: The most likely candidate on this list may be Memphis defensive coordinator Barry Odom. The Tigers have gotten better in each of Odom’s three seasons running the defense, and is a solid recruiter.

    This season, Odom’s unit has held opponents to 17.1 points per game and 343.2 total yards. They’ve sacked the quarterback 28 times, forced 25 fumbles (recovering 13) and picked off 14 passes. Odom is not a job-hopper. Prior to becoming defensive coordinator at Memphis, he spent nine seasons on Gary Pinkel’s staff at Missouri, his alma mater.

    There are certainly other candidates. UAB head coach Bill Clark has a great reputation and is now available (as unfortunate as that is). There have been whispers that Clemson’s Brent Venables could be a target, and Florida State’s Charles Kelly has also been mentioned. Mississippi State’s Geoff Collins is in line for a raise in Starkville, but he too would be a great hire.

    Of course, we know Gus Malzahn has kept the details of his search close to his sweater vest, so it wouldn’t be a shock for him to go in a completely different direction.

    If Plan A doesn’t work out, that is.

    Next: Malzahn Keeps DC Search Details Close to His Sweater Vest

    More from Fly War Eagle