War Eagle Extra

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn not in ‘big hurry’ to hire new secondary coach


Auburn coach Gus Malzahn plans on taking his time to hire a replacement for departing secondary coach Wes McGriff.

With McGriff staying with the Tigers through the Sugar Bowl, Malzahn is keeping his focus on the New Year’s Six matchup with Oklahoma instead of the program’s latest coaching vacancy.

“We’re not in a big hurry,” Malzahn said after practice Tuesday. “We want to make sure we take care of our bowl prep. Make sure of that before we leave, then we’ll see where it goes.”

Malzahn plans on working with defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to identify a list of candidates. The goal is to find a coach that meshes with the current defensive staff, which Malzahn hopes to keep intact.

“We’ll put our heads together and we’re looking for the right person and the right fit for us that will fit with our staff,” Malzahn said. “We’ve got great chemistry with our staff, so I think that’s important. We’re really looking for just a good person that will be a great example for our players. We’re looking for a guy that will be a great teacher that really can compliment coach Steele and everything that goes with it.”

Malzahn also stressed the importance of finding a talented recruiter.

McGriff thrived on the recruiting trail helping Auburn land a number of verbal commits — Malcolm Askew, Jordyn Peters, Carlito Gonzalez and Traivon Leonard — for the 2017 class.

Malzahn made continuity a priority last year when Auburn lost all but one member of its defensive staff when Will Muschamp left for South Carolina, but that won’t be at the top of the list this year.

“Obviously you want some continuity as far as being a little more stable, but with Kevin Steele, the stability we’ve got running our defense, I think everybody saw he’s one of the best in the country,” Malzahn said. “What he did with our players and our defense was really outstanding. So the core is definitely there. We’re just looking for the right fit. Somebody that can do a good job on the back end.”

Malzahn made it clear he is setting the bar high in his search.

“I think secondary, like any other position, is very important. So we need to try to get the best in the country,” Malzahn said.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra