ATLANTA — Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said this week at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., that Gus Malzahn will be the Tigers’ coach for a “long, long time.”
Many view the 2016 season as a critical year for Malzahn, who has led the Tigers to a combined 15-11 (6-10 SEC) record over the past two seasons. The results followed an SEC title and BCS National Championship appearance in 2013.
As the Tigers prepare for their fourth season under Malzahn, former Tigers quarterback Cam Newton agrees with Jacobs: His former coach is not on the hot seat.
“I don’t think he’s on the hot seat just off the mere fact that he is my coach,” Newton said in an exclusive interview with SEC Country. “I know what he is capable of doing. He will always and forever be one of the best college football offensive minds that have ever coached. Just being a trailblazer of a specific scheme that he built himself organically. When it’s ran the right way, it’s very fun to watch.”
Newton proved the worth of Malzahn’s system in 2010 when he won the Heisman Trophy behind 2,854 passing yards, 1,473 rushing yards and a combined 51 touchdowns.
Auburn is now looking for its next great quarterback and enters 2016 with question marks at the position. Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and JUCO transfer John Franklin III all competed for the job during the spring, but the Tigers entered the summer without a clear-cut favorite.
Four-star quarterback Woody Barrett also will enter the mix when he arrives on campus.
Johnson and White both started games last season, but neither could take reins on the starting gig with the two signal callers combining to throw 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Newton is aware of Franklin’s speed but knows that Malzahn will pick the best person for the job when the time comes.
“One thing I do know is Coach Malzahn will play the best person,” Newton said. “He prides himself on being a coach that has his players prepared, and come game day I know they will.
“I just feel as if this is Auburn’s year to make strides to getting back to the promised land.”