Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp had mixed results in his first year with the Tigers, but the defensive unit did improve in the latter half of the season.
With the regular season complete, the question now is if Auburn will be able to keep Muschamp around?
Muschamp is in the first year of a three-year $5.1 million contract, but the coach is free to exit his contract on Dec. 6. Just a few weeks ago, Muschamp indicated that he wanted to stick around at Auburn for the long haul. However, the former Florida head coach was linked to the South Carolina head coaching opening on Monday.
Much of this situation hinges on whether Muschamp’s desire to stay at Auburn outweighs the chance at being a head coach again. But only he can answer that question. Either way, it appears that Auburn may have to pony up a raise to keep him.
Is it worth it? Maybe.
Auburn’s defense actually finished worse than it did last season nationally going from 64th to 90th. It’s not the improvement many expected, but it is also a lot to ask of a first-year coach to revamp a poor defense in one season.
Muschamp also lost sophomore defensive end Carl Lawson, who is arguably the team’s best defender, for six games due to a hip injury.
If Muschamp returns, he will have another year to recruit better defensive talent. Look no further than current SEC East champion Florida — whose defense consists of many Muschamp recruits — to see the type of defensive talent Muschamp is able to accrue with time.
Another factor to consider? Muschamp is represented by super-agent Jimmy Sexton, who is known for getting his clients the best deals on the market. Sexton also represents other coaches around the SEC, including Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Alabama front man Nick Saban.
If Sexton can leverage the interest in Muschamp to get a more lucrative contract for his client, he certainly will. The only question is if that will be at Auburn or elsewhere?
Muschamp may leave Auburn if the right job comes calling regardless, of his contract situation. But it makes sense for the Tigers to try and retain him. A major reason for the slow start this season was the learning curve for the defense under a new coordinator.
Muschamp’s replacement might experience the same issues. Another new coordinator would mean the risk of another slow start, which may lead to more potential coaching changes beyond just the defensive coordinator.