Auburn Daily's Zac Blackerby believes that Georgia Tech defensive line coach Kyle Pope would be a potential culture fit with the Auburn football program in the same role; adding that him being a Sylacauga native helps his cause.
"Pope's name popped up as soon as the news of Garrett's departure was reported," Blackerby wrote. "He coached for Freeze at Liberty as the inside linebackers coach. Pope also was at Alabama as a graduate assistant in 2017. he also had two stints at Memphis as a defensive line coach as well as the defensive run game coordinator before landing the defensive line job at Georgia Tech.
"Freeze has made it clear that he's looking for a culture fit and guys he can trust. Pope checks both of those boxes and knows what will be asked of him on the recruiting front. Being from Sylacauga, Alabama can't hurt either."
Auburn football moving away from prioritizing Tigers alumni
Hugh Freeze's coaching/support staff lost several AU alums, most notably Cadillac Williams, Zac Etheridge, and Trovon Reed, over the offseason. Specific incidents led to the former pair's departures, while becoming an on-field coach for the first time, under one of his former coaches, Gus Malzahn, led to Reed leaving the Plains to be UCF's cornerbacks coach.
It was not by design to rid the staff of beloved ex-Tigers, and it's not as though Freeze hasn't restocked his staff with alumni. Charles Kelly is a proud alum and while not newly hired, Marcus Davis serves as receivers coach. Still, though, it's hard not to notice that AU's brain trust is no longer seeing fan-favorite ex-Auburn stars as the be-all, end-all during the hiring process.
Pope is a Jacksonville State alum, so the culture fit of working in the of Alabama while being a local isn't lost on anyone. But not needing to have gone to Auburn as a prerequisite is a new Freeze-era characteristic.