AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn can easily point out how college football has changed in recent years.
There’s far more negativity and controversy to deal with on a daily basis, Auburn’s coach says. And while Malzahn does his best to block most of the talk out, there’s some aspects of the current landscape he can’t ignore no matter how hard he tries. One of the most difficult battles is raged on social media, which Malzahn sometimes has to tune into.
“I do it for recruiting but I know our players do and that’s real,” Malzahn said. “Like I said, there are more opinions now in college football than ever before and there’s more this and that, managing that and your team reads it. I think I said it about a month ago: That’s real.”
Malzahn commented hours before the second edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were to be released Tuesday evening. They also came during a season in which rumors about Malzahn’s job security have flown constantly.
And it’s not going away. The talk is only going to get louder as the Tigers take on the top two teams in the country in hopes of presenting a case to be included in the College Football Playoff picture.
Still, Malzahn is reassured by the challenges his team has faced so far this season.
“From a coach’s standpoint you’ve got your team and you worry about your team and how can that team get better,” Malzahn said. “Like I said, I like where we’re at. I like where we’re at as a team and I like the fact we’ve overcome some adversity and I like the fact that we’ve had some tough times.”
He may not always be willing to include specifics, but Malzahn is willing to put his own opinion on the table.
“There’s a lot of teams out there that haven’t really experienced adversity yet,” Malzahn said. “I like where we’re at.”
Fortunately, whether it’s been the excitement surrounding quarterback Jarrett Stidham or his own job security and standing on the Plains, Malzahn’s team has for the most part remained insulated. It’s really the only way to be if you hope to have success at some point in 2017.
“You can’t really get caught up in that in that hype,” senior safety Tray Matthews said. “You can’t get caught up in the social media because nowadays everybody has an opinion.”
It’s something the former Georgia safety knows all too well — especially as Auburn prepares for the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
“Everybody in the Twitter world thinks they are coaches and know every single thing that is going on, Matthews said. “They think they know everything coverage wise, gap wise and all these different schemes. The only thing they see is what you did wrong. And it gets glorified with what you did right. You just got to take it in stride and not let it get in your head.”
All Malzahn can do, he says, is be up front and direct with his team. Auburn has to worry about Auburn.
“You be honest with your team,” Malzahn said. “And all that matters is your team in this room and everything that goes with it.”