Report: Auburn Football Coach Gus Malzahn Garnering Interest From NFL Teams


Could Gus Malzahn be an NFL coach some day? Sure. Will it be next year? Umm…

According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn is “garnering NFL interest” from teams that may be looking for a new head coach heading into the 2015 season.

Malzahn has already made an impact on the professional game in more than one way.

As a noted offensive innovator, Malzahn was the first high-profile coach to use the Wildcat, which he implemented as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas in 2006. The scheme uses a running back in the traditional quarterback role and is used to gain a matchup advantage against the defense, particularly in short yardage situations.

Not long after Malzahn installed a series of Wildcat plays, and counters to those plays, with the Razorbacks, many NFL teams began running it as well.

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Also, Malzahn has used a “pop pass” or “quadruple option” play in which the quarterback fakes to a running back, has the option to keep the ball, pitch it to another player or throw downfield. The play was used brilliantly by the Tigers in the 2013 Iron Bowl, and was also implemented this season by several teams, including the Seattle Seahawks, who scored a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers.

In addition to his innovative offense, Malzahn has had success as a collegiate head coach. He led Arkansas State to the Sun Belt Conference title in 2012 before returning to the Plains, where he previously served as offensive coordinator, to turn the Tigers around from a 3-9 record to a 12-2 mark, an SEC Championship and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game in 2013. This year, Auburn is 8-4.

After spending a large portion of his career at the high school level, Malzahn is closing in on a decade as a collegiate coach. It suits him well.

Still, at least one NFL team may be more interested in luring Malzahn himself from the Auburn football program than relying on another coach to use Malzahn’s ideas. According to Rapoport, the Dolphins were the most likely suitor, but it was announced that Philbin will be retained in 2015.

However, the Oakland Raiders already have an opening, the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons are rumored to be looking for new coaches next season, among others, and there is always a surprise firing or two on Black Monday in the NFL.

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  • Would Malzahn consider a move to the League this year?

    It’s hard to imagine. Though Malzahn is only middle of the pack in salary among coaches in the SEC, and ranked 14th in the country last season. A spot in the NFL would assuredly come with a handsome raise.

    But, athletic director Jay Jacobs helped Malzahn hire Will Muschamp as the team’s new defensive coordinator by making him the highest paid assistant coach in the nation, and also sending a message that he will do what it takes to win championships at Auburn.

    Yet, it’s not completely out of the question Malzahn would have NFL interest, either. After bringing home multiple national championships, Pete Carroll made the jump from USC to the Seahawks in January 2010. Chip Kelly, whom is often compared to Malzahn as an offensive innovator, left Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles in January 2012.

    Right now, Malzahn seems unlikely to go to the NFL. However, it would be naive to think he’ll never be tempted.

    Next: Previews & Predictions For Every 2014-15 Bowl Game

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