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Auburn AD Jay Jacobs confidence in football coach Gus Malzahn remains high

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn athletic director speaks to reporters Jay Jacobs on Tuesday, January 19, 2016. (Wade Rackley | Auburn Athletics)
Auburn athletic director speaks to reporters Jay Jacobs on Tuesday, January 19, 2016. (Wade Rackley | Auburn Athletics)

Auburn athletic director is standing behind football coach Gus Malzahn.

Jacobs introduced a series of goals and initiatives titled “16 for ‘16” in a press conference Tuesday night. Before heading to the men’s basketball team’s win over Alabama, Jacobs spent time answering questions from the media.

It was the first time Jacobs spoke to reporters since announcing Butch Thompson as the baseball team’s new coach in late October.

During the session, Jacobs offered a second vote of confidence for Malzahn in as many months.

“I believed in Gus when we hired him and I still believe in Gus,” Jacobs said. “Football season is what? Eight and half months away? We are excited about what’s going to happen.”

It came on the heels of Jacobs reaffirming his commitment to producing championship-level teams for each of the athletic department’s 21 programs.

“Our men’s golf team is number one in the nation, equestrian team is number one in the nation and we are certainly excited about tennis and women’s golf,” Jacobs said. “Our swimming and diving team will be another top 10 team in the nation. We are excited about baseball and all anxiously awaiting softball.”

With a 6-6 regular season, and 6-10 record in the SEC going back to 2014, the football team is starting to lag behind Auburn’s other programs.

While Jacobs acknowledged a .500 record isn’t “good enough” for Auburn’s football program in a radio interview before the Birmingham Bowl, he stopped short of putting Malzahn on the hot seat for 2016.

“I know how we all feel about it as a man as a coach and as a very bright football coach, but how those players feel about him -- that's what I've seen,” Jacobs said. “I've seen him continue to grow and keep learning, just like when he was back as a high school coach.”

Jacobs didn't spend a whole lot of time talking about football Tuesday, but did take time to recognize Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson.

Johnson was one of a handful of student-athletes in attendance at the press conference. Jacobs offered the embattled junior high praise for how he handled a challenging 2016 season.

"You showed us what an Auburn man's all about," Jacobs said. "Every Saturday, regardless of what your situation was, you were the first one out of that tunnel. As an Auburn man that means more to me and these people in this room than anything you do.”

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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