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Auburn coach Gus Malzahn shifting focus back to football for 2016 season

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn yells instructions at the university's athletic complex Tuesday, April 5, 2016.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn yells instructions at the university's athletic complex Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Ledger-Enquirer.com

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was critical of his own performance in an interview with ESPN.com’s Chris Low prior to the program’s annual spring game.

Malzahn said taking a CEO approach turned out to be a mistake as his team finished 7-6 with losses to Alabama and Georgia for a second straight season.

"I'm a football coach, not a CEO," Malzahn told ESPN.com last week. "I probably tried to be too much of a CEO last season. My teams have taken on my personality in the past, and I think we sort of had four or five different personalities last year, all the different coaches' personalities. That's on me. That's my fault. You live and learn, and I learned the hard way last year."

Malzahn doubled down on the comments before speaking at a West Georgia Auburn Club event in LaGrange, Georgia.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to be a head coach in our league and at my core I’m a football coach,” Malzahn said. “That’s what I do best and so sometimes you can get distracted with other things and I think the easiest way to answer that is I’m not going to be distracted with the other things when the season gets here. And I’m going to coach football.”

Malzahn wouldn’t list specific distractions he faced, but vowed to make sure his priorities were geared towards what happens on the football field in the fall.

“I think as a coach at a big place, you learn and obviously that was a learning experience,” Malzahn said. “Obviously last year wasn’t up to our standards and you evaluate things as a head coach and you try to not make the mistakes twice and we’re not going to do that and I’m not going to do that. We’re going to be better next year.”

Running backs coach Tim Horton said the more involved Malzahn is in Auburn’s offense the better.

“Coach has always been very involved, and he should be, he’s a great offensive coach, a great offensive play caller,” Horton said. “That’s probably more applicable to the fall than maybe the spring, but he’s obviously a great offensive coach and I think those changes you’ll see more in the fall than you will in the spring.

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