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Auburn has contacted candidates to replace Wes McGriff, high turnover at position ‘way overrated’

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele speaks to reporters at a Sugar Bowl press conference on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 in New Orleans, La.
Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele speaks to reporters at a Sugar Bowl press conference on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 in New Orleans, La. Auburn Athletics

Change isn’t something that bothers Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

The well-travelled assistant brushed aside concerns a fifth secondary coach in four years would be an issue for his players next season.

“This is not 1970 where every SEC head coach had been there 15 years,” Steele said Friday during a press conference previewing the Sugar Bowl. “There's a lot of change in things now. Players change, coaches change.”

Steele provided a small update to the coaching search, which coach Gus Malzahn previously said wouldn’t be a priority until the team returned from New Orleans.

“We do have a list,” Steele said. “There has been some contact. There's been no decision and will not be until we get back home.”

When Auburn does make an official hire, it won’t negatively impact the teams newly found chemistry on the defensive side of the ball.

It’s a point Steele made emphatically.

“I think it's way overrated,” Steele said of hiring a new assistant coach. “I think it's just really, it doesn't mean a whole lot. If the guy coaching you is a good person, a good teacher, and knows what he is doing, the players will adapt. And so that's no concern at all.”

Steele compared the current collegiate landscape to the NFL where coaches and players annually play musical chairs.

“I mean, people graduate and transfer now like free agency in college football, and pro guys, you know, they sign one-contracts and be with one team,” Steele said. “I have a guy I coached in college that is in the NFL. He is with the third team by choice, contractually by choice, in the last three years.”

It helps that McGriff set up the secondary well in his brief one-year stint on the Plains.

Steele was highly complimentary of the job Ole Miss’ new defensive coordinator did this past season improving one of the weakest pass defenses in the SEC.

“He is the consummate professional,” Steele said. “He is great with the players. But probably the biggest thing, he is as good a teacher in the back end as you will ever see. And one of the reasons that we have so few of deep balls, there are very few deep ball big plays against us this year, as few as I can ever remember being around, and I attribute that to how good of a teacher he is of keeping the top on the coverage.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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