It all worked out in the end for Gus Malzahn and Auburn. They ended up winning the SEC West, kept their coach from bolting to Arkansas, and agreed to a new 7-year, $49 million deal. But it all could’ve ended very differently had he lost to Alabama.
According to a report from Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com, Malzahn was very concerned with the Alabama game beyond just facing the then No. 1 team in the country. Scarbinsky says that Malzahn was worried that another Alabama loss would cost him his job at Auburn.
Malzahn was concerned about the Alabama game for a different reason, people close to him say. He was convinced a fourth straight loss to the Crimson Tide would cost him his job. He may not have been wrong.
Of course Auburn went out and beat Alabama 26-14, making it the first time since 2010 that Alabama has lost an SEC game by more than 10 points. Auburn didn’t end up making it to the College Football Playoff, as the Tigers lost the rematch to Georgia, falling 28-7. The Tigers went 10-3 this season, with two of those losses coming against playoff teams in Georgia and Clemson.
There was also the potential of Arkansas, where Malzahn is from and at one point coached, hiring away the Auburn coach. But the new contract deal made it too hard for Malzahn to bolt. The Razorbacks ended up hiring SMU coach Chad Morris to become the Razorbacks next coach.
Auburn will end its season on Jan. 1, when it takes on the unbeaten Central Florida Knights. That game will be played in Atlanta and kickoff at 12:30 PM. Malzahn will coach against Scott Frost, who has already been officially introduced as Nebraska’s next coach.