AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn enters a crucial year in his fourth season as Auburn’s coach.
Expectations are somewhat flat in Las Vegas, where oddsmakers have set the over-under win total at 7.5 wins for the Tigers, which historically makes sense for fourth-year coaches at Auburn — but losing records are rare for fourth-year coaches at Auburn. Eleven Auburn coaches to reach four years combined to win 58.9 percent of their games, with the best seasons recorded by Pat Dye with a 9-4 record in 1984 and Tommy Tuberville with a 9-4 record in 2002.
Here’s the good news for history buffs: six of the last seven Auburn coaches have won eight games or more in their fourth season. Gene Chizik went 3-9 in 2012, Terry Bowden was 8-4 in 1996, and Shug Jordan and Doug Barfield both went 8-3 in their fourth seasons. Only two of the 11 coaches finished with losing records (Chizik in 2012 and Carl Voyles in 1947).
What’s in store for Auburn in 2016? We’ll find out soon enough, but the win percentage combined among the 11 coaches in their fourth seasons would equate to 7.1 wins in the 12-game regular season.
Malzahn is 27-13 in three seasons as Auburn’s coach, including a 12-2 record and SEC title in 2013. He has lost nine of Auburn’s last 11 SEC games.
Auburn opens the season Sept. 3 against Clemson, which was picked by the media on Monday to win the ACC championship.
4th-year Auburn coaches
John Heisman (1898): 2-1
Mike Donahue (1911): 4-2-1
Chet Wynne (1933): 5-5
Jack Meagher (1937): 6-2-3
Carl Voyles (1947): 2-7
Shug Jordan (1954): 8-3
Doug Barfield (1979): 8-3
Pat Dye (1984): 9-4
Terry Bowden (1996): 8-4
Tommy Tuberville (2002): 9-4
Gene Chizik (2012): 3-9