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Gus Malzahn and Auburn staying on the fast track

May 28, 2014

Nick Marshall, left, and Cameron Artis-Payne (44) will be back to run Auburn's fast offense in 2014

By Charles Goldberg

DESTIN, Fla. -- The speed guys weren't blindsided this time. Gus Malzahn and his fast-pace offensive friends were ready for Wednesday's SEC coaches meeting where a "healthy debate" took place between the haves of today's offense faced off with the have-nots who want to slow it down.

Bottom line: Nothing was settled, no 10-second rule, it's still full speed ahead. 

"People were able to give their opinions, but it was all healthy," said the Auburn coach. "It was very good. Everyone didn’t agree, but that’s OK." 

Malzahn's offense led the nation in total offense last year. His fast friends in the SEC are Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. Yes, he talked to them after Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Alabama's Nick Saban met with an NCAA rules committee to discuss putting in a 10-second rule to slow things down based on injury concerns. 

There was no hint of ill will in Wednesday's meeting. No ambush, either, not like last time. 

"The uniqueness is that people were caught off guard," Malzahn said. "We were trying to get all the information, who knew what and all that. In a setting like this, you get a chance to hear everybody’s opinion and they get to share their side and their belief and you can put everything out there. 

"Now we’ve got time to look back and gather information, gather facts, healthy debate and you go from there." 

Until told otherwise, Malzahn is running his offense at his own pace. 

"This is what I believe in. This is what I’ve done for a long period of time. I’ve got my way of looking at it," he said. 

Bottom line: No rule will slow Auburn down in 2014. 

"After this next season, I think there will be a lot of discussion of football and where we want it to go. I’m fine with it as long as everybody gets their equal opinion," Malzahn said. 

Malzahn also said… 

Linebacker Anthony Swain has been reinstated after missing spring practice. 

"He'll be back, probably Monday." 

Malzahn hired Ryan Aplin, his quarterback at Arkansas State in 2012, as an offensive graduate assistant coach. He replaces Kodi Burns, who went to Samford as the running backs coach.

"The fact he played in our offense and was very successful, understands how we operates, good relationship with Coach (Rhett) Lashlee, that will definitely be a plus.

Malzahn is good with an early signing period in football "as long as it doesn't change the current recruiting schedule." 

"We've had some discussions of doing that without changing the current way."

"Each conference," he added, "has a different way of looking at it and different plans. But our
thinking as a conference was not changing the current recruiting schedule, because when you do that, you open up a lot of different things. That was kind of the consensus in our room."

Malzahn's Tigers played in the last BCS championship game. He's OK with the concept of the new four-team playoff. 

"I think as far as the information they given us, I think you feel OK about that. But I think the first year or two, we'll all learn a lot," he said. "I think it will just be a learning process." 

There's been a discussion of adding a 10th full-time assistant in football. 

"I'm fine with that," Malzahn said. But he added that "I'm satisfied with the off-the-field assistant coaches that we have."

•On developing a plan to have better control of agents and players, since 40 percent of the players who came out early for the NFL Draft weren't drafted. That's a concern for SEC commissioner Mike Slive, too. 

"I’m exactly with Mr. Slive on that," Malzahn said. "That’s something we’ve got to get a grip on. I think the autonomy aspect will definitely help with that."

"The main thing," he added, "is getting accurate information to our players. That’s something our coaches talked about — trying to figure out ways to give them the factual information and not just opinions. When you have that kind of number who didn’t get drafted and they thought they’d get drafted, well, somebody told them that they were. We’re trying to come up with ways to get them more factual information so they can make the best decision for them. Especially the guys who leave earlier and don’t get drafted and don’t get a degree."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:
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