While Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs has said he supports Gus Malzahn, he admits there is pressure on the head coach as he enters his fourth season at the helm. That pressure, he said, is created mostly by the Tigers’ in-state rival.
Jacobs told Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples that while other college football programs should envy the Tigers, Alabama has created even higher expectations among the Tiger fans.
“There are 12 other programs (in the SEC),” Jacobs said, “that would love to be in our position. … It just happens to be that the other one is in this state.”
That’s the influence Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has on college football. Les Miles was nearly fired last season despite averaging 10 wins per season since 2010. Mark Richt was fired, even after getting Georgia to 9-3 despite a season-ending injury to one of the nation’s best players, Nick Chubb.
Miles, Malzahn and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin will all be on the hot seat this season because they’re being measured against Saban. Malzahn has gone 27-13 in his first three seasons and made it to the national title game in his first year at the helm. He also coordinated Auburn’s offense during the Tigers’ national title run in 2010.
One would think those accomplishments would buy him some good will among fans, even after a down year. Jacobs acknowledged, however, that that isn’t the case.
“People want answers,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re blood or not.”
The last time the Tigers had a major decline and fired their coach, they ended up with Malzahn. While that turned out well, Jacobs said some fans just want to “flip people out of here like pancakes” any time the Tigers hit a rough patch.
The AD said he approves of what Malzahn has done and that he pictures the coach sticking around for a while.
“With Gus, everything I’ve seen from him and their recruiting and the kind of man he is, he’s the right man for Auburn right now and for a long time,” Jacobs said. “I know he’s going to get it done.”