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Gus Malzahn talks up Auburn on whirlwind day at ESPN
July 21, 2015

Gus Malzahn is ready for SportsCenter at ESPN

By Charles Goldberg

BRISTOL, Conn. ― Auburn's Gus Malzahn says he's a "routine guy, not a superstitious guy."

Maybe that's why he says he's coaching up his players and dealing with facts until the last minute on football Saturdays.

"I'm not one of those guys who thinks a pregame speech is really important," he said during his fourth ESPN interview Tuesday. Or was it the fifth interview? The ninth? Eleventh?

We forget.

Malzahn's whirlwind tour of ESPN was part of the SEC's annual two-day cavalcade of coaches who visited the network's sprawling campus this week. There was plenty of talk about new Auburn starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson and new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and Auburn being picked to win the SEC championship, even though it wasn't picked to win the SEC West at Media Days 2015 last week.

Someone said on set he was surprised the media could pull off such an otherwise impossible mathematical feat.

"I was, too," Malzahn said with a smile.

No problem, though because "Auburn is a place where we expect to win championships. We're young and inexperienced, but we're talented young."

Malzahn was a trouper, answering the many questions, ducking in for lots of coffee, less than a day after flying across the Atlantic after walking the links with Jason Dufner at the British Open.

"We support each other, and we help each other," Malzahn said of Auburn people sticking together.

He ran into another golfing friend at ESPN.

"Hope to see you in Atlanta" in the SEC Championship Game, said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who turned with a smile and said, "we'll try to hold you under 50."

Malzahn and Spurrier have been known to tee it up. Malzahn says Spurrier wins that day. "Family over golf," Malzahn said of the current state of his game.

Eight SEC coaches were on hand Tuesday, all in for a coaches roundtable, then they were individually dispatched to various studios. That was for interviews Four, Seven and 12. Or was it Two, Three and Six?

One topic: Providing players with cost of attendance checks. "I'm just happy to give the players something," Malzahn said. "Their parents will be able to go to road games."

But, mainly, Malzahn said the real benefit is the education the players will receive.

On the field, he said Johnson, his quarterback, is ahead of the game.

"I'm very pleased he's in our offense," he said, predicting Johnson will suprise people with his running ability, because everyone knows he can throw.

Maybe as importantly, he said he was pleased how Johnson waited his turn for two seasons.

"I'm real proud of the way he handled himself. He wanted to play, but he never complained or let it be a distraction."

Malzahn was asked how many tackles the energetic Muschamp might have this season.

"He's a pretty aggressive guy," Malzahn conceded.

"The great thing for me is been a head coach. I think he's very happy."

Another good thing, he was said, would be if the college football playoffs were expanded from four to eight teams.

"It would give our league another chance to get one more team in."

Sometime after that, and hours and hours after boarding the Auburn jet at 5 a.m. for the flight here, they fired up the engines and headed home.

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



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