Year 1 of the Hugh Freeze era at Auburn has been an up-and-down experience for the Tigers, but it’s certainly been an improvement from his predecessor. Freeze is trying to turn around a stagnant program as the SEC gets tougher than ever in 2024.
The former coaches on this list had the same goal but fell way short. Throughout its history, Auburn football has been an institution in the SEC and there haven’t been many bad stretches. From Gus Malzahn, Gene Chizik, and Tommy Tuberville this century, to Pat Dye and Ralph Jordan in the previous one, Auburn’s record books are littered with 10-win seasons and big-time bowl games, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing down south.
Freeze may not win a national championship like Jordan or Chizik, or even make the championship game like Malzahn, but he does need to stay off this list if he wants to establish himself in a program with high expectations.
Ralph Jordan led the Auburn Tigers to the national championship in 1957, his seventh year, but after his 27-year tenure came to an end in 1975, his replacement didn’t even last seven seasons. Doug Barfield took over for Jordan and only managed two winning seasons in his five years as Auburn’s head coach.
Barfield was the offensive coordinator under Jordan in 1974 and ’75 before taking over the head coaching role.
His teams never qualified for a bowl game and on the field he finished with a 27-27-1 record. Multiple forfeited games by Ole Miss over that period means his official record is 29-25-1. He was over .500, but the reason he got dismissed so quickly, other than the mediocrity was his 0-5 record in the Iron Bowl. In the SEC, if you can’t beat your biggest rival, you can’t keep your job.