Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs knew words weren’t enough to end the speculation surrounding coach Gus Malzahn’s future on the Plains.
Malzahn had three years remaining on a restructured contract following a challenging 2016 campaign.
The Tigers finished one game over .500 thanks to a win over Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl, but well short of the championship expectations they had going into the season thanks to a struggling offense.
Auburn’s record looked a bit better in 2014 at 8-5, but the team lost four of its last five games.
Jacobs gave Malzahn a vote of confidence during the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin saying the coach would be at Auburn “a long time,” but the athletic director made similar assurances about former coach Gene Chizik a year before firing him.
On Tuesday at the Escambia County Auburn Club Annual Meeting in Atmore, Jacobs explained why adding an extra year on Malzahn’s contract worth $4.725 million — $2,237,500 per year in the case of a buyout — shows the university remains committed to the coach as the long-term leader of the program.
“We both started talking about it early on, and there was so much talk about ‘is he our guy, isn’t he our guy?’ He’s our guy,” Jacobs said. “We need stability at Auburn, and so we’re counting on him to get it done. We’re going to give him the resources that are necessary to get it done, and now he has the confidence that he’s going to be here, so that’s helpful in any business, particularly coaching, and he’s got a great staff with nine assistant coaches that he’s very comfortable with. We’re going to support him at the highest level.”
Jacobs didn’t downplay the need for immediate improvement on the field, but made it clear how pleased he is with the overall state of the program under Malzahn’s leadership.
“This entire league is about winning, but right now what we need is stability,” Jacobs said. “We need somebody here who stands for the right things like Gus does, the best offensive mind in the nation, taken us to two national championships—which very few in this league can say that’s happened to them; only two, I believe. So that’s what it’s about. It’s not about perception. It’s not about what the past is; it’s about what we need right now moving forward. We need him to be our coach for a long time, and we’re going to provide him with the resources to get that done. We got to produce on the field.”