Dec. 20, 2013
Scott Fountain will experience his second BCS Championship Game when Auburn plays Florida State (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – A year ago, Scott Fountain wasn’t even sure how long he would have a job. As Auburn’s player personnel director, he was doing all he could to help newly hired head coach Gus Malzahn get his program up and running.
For Fountain, it was not an easy time. He’d followed Gene Chizik from Iowa State to Auburn in 2009 and been part of a national championship in 2010. When the 2012 season ended with a 3-9 record, Chizik was fired. His assistant coaches soon followed.
Malzahn, who had worked as offensive coordinator for three years in the office beside Fountain’s, retained him in his old job. But In January, Fountain got what wanted most. He moved back onto the field as Auburn’s tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
And on Jan. 6, he’ll be at the Rose Bowl for his second BCS National Championship Game when No. 2 Auburn (12-1), the Southeastern Conference champion, plays No. 1 Florida State (13-0), the ACC champion.
“It’s really surreal to go from the bottom of the league last year to now you are the best in the league,
Fountain said. “Even at the end of last year, I believed we had the right players here. I knew we had to plug in one or two guys, JUCO guys, which we did. It came together.”
Fountain understands better than most how far Auburn football has come in a year, from a dispirited and unhappy team to one that is brimming with confidence.
“Last year was such a tough year,” Fountain said. “When they hired Coach Malzahn, I knew we’d go in the right direction. I knew we would get back to this, but I didn’t know how long it would take. He’s run a tight ship for us, and here we are.”
Championship is week is unlike any other for the teams that are there. The media spotlight shines brightly. The pressure to take the last step is immense. Fountain knows better than most how to deal with it. He was there in Glendale, Ariz., in January of 2011.
“It’s still just a game and just a bowl, but it’s more than that because it’s for the national championship,” Fountain said. “As a coach, sometimes you spend your whole career trying to get to this point. When you get the opportunity, you want to win it. I just think the anxiety builds up and pressure builds up.
“… Some coaches get there early in their careers and some get there late. For me to experience it twice is really cool.”
Fountain, an Alabamian who lettered for four seasons as a Samford offensive lineman, reached out to Malzahn shortly after they both joined Chizik’s staff.
“I’d heard about Gus’ offense and didn’t know a lot about it,” Fountain said. “One of the first things I did was go into his office and sit down with him. I wanted to make sure he knew I was a football coach and wanted to continue to learn as much as I could. He kind of gave me that opportunity. I learned a lot from him. I also worked closely with him on some off-field stuff. I think that gave us a good relationship.”
When Malzahn left for Arkansas State after the 2011 season, he offered Fountain an on-field job. But Fountain, who coached six years of high school football in Alabama, needed one more year to secure his state retirement. He and his wife, Rosie, and four sons stayed at Auburn.
A matter of months after Fountain made that decision, Malzahn returned and the course of Fountain’s career soon changed.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: