Auburn fans are angry right now, and Paul Finebaum knows it.
So during his weekly radio appearance on WJOX in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday morning, the SEC Network star gave the Tigers fans the type of rant many of them may have already delivered to their friends in the hours following a tough 27-23 loss at LSU on Saturday afternoon.
During the middle of the rant, which was mostly about the inability of Gus Malzahn to maintain an elite SEC program while sharing a state with Nick Saban, Finebaum had to stop himself and assure listeners he was speaking about Malzahn and not maligned Tennessee coach Butch Jones — a telling statement.
“I know this may sound like I’m talking about Butch Jones, but I’m not,” Finebaum said. “I’m talking about Gus Malzahn. In a coach’s fifth year, you don’t want to be having these conversations. It’s really not excusable.
“Do I think Auburn has a good program? Yes. But I don’t think living in the same state as Alabama that this is going to be good enough, and I think that’s why there’s so much nail-biting right now. What makes it even more confusing and problematic is the culture at Auburn right now outside of football. It’s the leadership at Auburn. I’m not trying to turn this into a House of Cards episode, but it certainly looks like one.”
In spite of losses to Clemson and LSU leaving the Tigers in “must win” scenarios with No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia and a strong Texas A&M team still on the schedule, the hosts of the show wanted to talk about Auburn’s chances of running the table and making the College Football Playoff as a two-loss team.
“We’re probably in fantasy land right now talking about this,” Finebaum said. “But why not? It’s Monday morning. I think Auburn would have a case [in that scenario], but I just don’t think that conversation is worth the oxygen right now. If they can go in and beat Georgia … and beat No. 1 Alabama, I think they’ll probably have the most impressive resume in the country and they can probably skate.
“I know that’s what Gus Malzahn wants to sell, but I don’t think too many people are buying that argument at the moment.”
Losses to Alabama and Georgia and wins elsewhere would leave the Tigers at 8-4 this season, a number that Finebaum repeatedly reminded listeners was “not good enough at Auburn.”
You can listen to the entire interview here:
— WJOX 94.5 FM (@WJOX945) October 16, 2017