Auburn coach Gus Malzahn hasn’t had much of a break since the 2015 season ended.
After filling four coaching vacancies, he spent weeks on the road putting together a 2016 recruiting class that ended up as one of the top 10 in the country.
Malzahn already has a lengthy to-do-list with spring practices right around the corner (they start March 1), making calls to 2017 recruits and filling support staff vacancies, but before he gets to any of that he’s taking a few days off.
Auburn’s coach left Thursday morning for California to watch an Auburn alum he believes has the chance to be the “best ever” play in the Super Bowl 50.
Malzahn will be in Cam Newton’s corner at Levi Stadium Sunday when the quarterback has the chance to become only the second player in NFL history to win the Heisman, national title, MVP and Super Bowl.
Newton’s career-year leading a 15-1 Carolina Panthers team to the Super Bowl came up during Malzahn’s national signing day press conference.
Malzahn acknowledge he hasn’t shied away from using Netwon’s high-profile persona on the recruiting trail.
“It definitely helps,” Malzahn said of Newton’s popularity. “Every quarterback wants to be Cam Newton and he’s doing pretty good right now, so I’d say that helps.”
Newton graduated from Auburn last spring then returned to campus in the fall as an honorary coach for the Iron Bowl.
Clips of Auburn’s kick-six from two years ago didn’t even receive the kind of ovation Newton did when he was shown on the video board at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Newton might have only spent one season on the plains, but with Malzahn as his offensive coordinator he won the Heisman leading Auburn to a national title win 22-19 win the 2011 BCS title game over Oregon.
“He looks like he’s playing at the same level he was in 2010 when we made the championship run,” Malzahn said during an appearance on ESPN’s Sportscenter with anchor Scott Van Pelt.
Malzahn will also get the chance to see former Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne and offensive lineman Reese Dismukes. Dismukes is on the Panthers’ practice squad, but travelled to the game with the team.
Artis-Payne was inactive for the NFC Championship game, but had three carries for seven yards and a catch in Carolina’s 31-24 divisional title win over Seattle.
If Carolina beats the Denver Broncos Sunday, Newton would become the first quarterback from Auburn to win a Super Bowl.
The last Auburn alum to be a part of a Super Bowl winning team was Josh Bynes with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012.