Usually stoic and shielded in front of the media, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn came out in a good mood when he addressed reporters this past Thursday at SEC Media Days.
He called the SEC West, “a man’s league” while defending the division’s superiority. And he made more than a few allusions to his 2013 team, which won the SEC and played in the national title game.
“We’re at the point now where we’ve had five top-10 recruiting classes in a row,” Malzahn told the media. “Right now, we have the best quality depth we’ve had since I’ve been here. We’ve got the most experienced team that I’ve had since I’ve been here. … The fact that we have a very hungry team, they’ve got something to prove.
“Really, if you look back to 2013, I feel the same way about our team.”
The optimism largely stems from the addition of former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who brings a ton of hype with him.
In addition to Stidham, the Auburn offense will be led by a new face in Chip Lindsey, who replaced Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator. Provided Stidham beats out Sean White for the starting job, the Tigers will need the best from both Stidham and Lindsey in tackling a schedule that sees Auburn face the usual SEC West foes, a road trip to defending national champion Clemson and a late-season visit from Georgia.
Malzahn has not fared well in previous SEC Country approval rating polls. He has finished near the bottom of every ranking, and came in with a 62.9 rating in June, which was only better than Kevin Sumlin among SEC coaches.
Malzahn earned a salary of $4.7 million in 2016. His record at Auburn is 35-18 overall and 18-14 in the SEC. The Tigers went 8-5 last season, which included an appearance in the Sugar Bowl. The Tigers also played both teams that appeared in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, losing to Clemson and Alabama.
Auburn opens its 2017 season at home against Georgia Southern. The Tigers’ Week 2 game against Clemson has been given a 7 p.m. ET kickoff.
Vote on Gus Malzahn’s approval rating
The SEC Country approval rating poll is designed to give an indication of fan happiness over a period of time.
Our formula is based on the percentage of respondents that select each answer. We multiply that percentage by the following factors: 1 (strongly approve), 0.67 (approve), 0.33 (disapprove) and 0.0 (strongly disapprove). In other words, if 50 percent of respondents select “strongly approve” and 50 percent select “approve,” the formula would be (50 x 1) + (50 x 0.67) = 83.5% approval rating.