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Gus Malzahn knows his way around his players, the SEC

July 27, 2013


Gus Malzahn talked Auburn football at the spring A-Day Game (Todd Van Emst photo)

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn jumped from coaching high school football to the University of Arkansas and the Southeastern Conference in one big swoop, and then added three more years in the conference as Auburn's offensive coordinator. 

Unlike the league's three other new head coaches, he's no SEC rookie. 

"It's great having experience in this league," Malzahn said. "I think back to my first year — you hear about it, go through it — and look back and go 'wow.'" 

Malzahn, back at Auburn after being away for a year, is now less than a week away from his first fall camp as the Tigers' head coach. He'll have to evaluate players, like he did in the spring, but says he's already ahead of the game.

He recruited, and then coached, many of the players as either Auburn's offensive coordinator from 2009-11 or as the head coach in the spring. It's a help on the learning curve. 

"Offensively, especially," he said. "And, defensively, I've practiced against them and I do have some information,. And our players really know what to expect out of me. I think it gives me a great advantage going into this season." 

Malzahn says the newcomers will have a chance to impress, too. 

"We recruited very well this last class and we're going to give these freshmen a chance to prove themselves," he said. "There will be quite a few of these young guys on the field in some capacity." 

Malzahn easily has the most experience in the league among the new coaches. What's that mean? Who knows?

Here are the SEC's new coaches, in alphabetical order: 

Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Previous SEC experience: None
Notable stops as assistant coach: Iowa, Kansas State, Wisconsin
Head coaching experience: Wisconsin 2006-12 

Butch Jones, Tennessee
Previous SEC experience: None
Notable stops as assistant coach: Rutgers, Central Michigan, West Virginia 
Head coaching experience:  Central Michigan 2007-09; Cincinnati 2010-12

Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Previous SEC experience: Four years
Notable stops at an assistant coach: Arkansas, Tulsa, Auburn
Head coaching experience: Arkansas State 2012

Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Previous SEC experience: None
Notable stops as an assistant coach: Iowa, South Florida, Wyoming, Houston, Miami, Arizona, Florida State
Head coaching experience: None

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



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