Nov. 29, 2013
Auburn's Gus Malzahn plays to a welcoming crowd in Jordan-Hare Stadium (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – Jay Jacobs likes Gus Malzahn, or why else would he introduce him Friday as "the next national and SEC coach of the year"?
Well, there's the liking him part. And the fact Malzahn has come back to Auburn and flipped a 3-9 record of a year ago to 10-1 record heading to Saturday's game against Alabama.
It was Malzahn's final Friday Football Luncheon in the Letterman's Club at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and it was full of energy from Jacobs, the athletics director; Malzahn, the head coach; and the fans, who gave Malzahn a standing ovation.
Jacobs endorsed Malzahn's weekly appearances. "We started this out this year as trial and error, and it seems to have certainly gone very well."
Jacobs reminded the fans that it will be Bo Jackson's birthday Saturday and made sure all the kids got Auburn souvenirs, promised the fans at the lunch who came from the farthest way that they'll participate in a special event at the game, and even wished Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray well after suffering a season-ending injury last week.
Malzahn was in his element, talking like his fast-paced offense runs, treating fans to video highlights. And not just highlights, Malzahn was running the plays forward, and backward, and forward, and backward, explaining blocking and passing and who knows what. This Gus Malzahn was not the careful Gus Malzahn you see in pre-game and post-game videos.
"Turn your cameras off. I want to give you some true insight," Malzahn said.
Malzahn then told stories, on himself, like on the Nick Marshall-to-Ricardo Louis miracle touchdown pass that beat Georgia with 25 seconds left.
"The ball goes up and he threw the post. 'Oh, no!'... Don't tell anybody that," Malzahn said with a laugh.
Auburn took a 43-38 lead on the miracle, but Georgia drove down and was trying to throw it in the end zone on the game's final play.
"We have a way of making it exciting, don't we?"
And now Auburn heads to the biggest challenge of the season.
"Come ready to go, and be loud," Malzahn told the crowd. "I told our team we've got to give our crowd something, especially early, to cheer about. We're going to do this thing together. I can't wait to watch them play.
"Y'all buckle up and let's have fun tomorrow."
Video: Late Friday afternoon, Auburn fans cheered Gus Malzahn and the Tigers as they left the athletic complex...
Charles Goldberg writes for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: