While Arkansas' hiring of Bret Bielema stole most of the headlines on Tuesday afternoon, Auburn made a big splash of its own, re-hiring its former offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, to take over as head coach.
James Bryant of AStateNation.com broke the news:
Breaking News: I have confirmed through multiple sources that Gus Malzahn will be named the next head football coach at Auburn University— AStateNation (@AStateNation) December 4, 2012
While Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart also drew serious interest from Auburn, the school decided to return to its roots. Malzahn took the head coaching job at Arkansas State last season, leading the Red Wolves to a 9-3 mark and a date with Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Malzahn will replace Gene Chizik, who led Auburn to a national championship in 2010 but only managed a dismal 3-9 mark this season and went winless in the SEC.
So how is Twitter reacting to the news? What snarky jokes and perceptive tidbits have come pouring in from the Twitterverse?
We start with Gregg Doyel of CBS, who wonders if Auburn's interest in Smart was less about hiring him and more a covert operation to learn more of Alabama's dirty little secrets:
Day after interviewing Bama DC Kirby Smart, Auburn tabs Malzahn. Was Auburn just going for intel on Saban?— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) December 4, 2012
It's been like Mission: Impossible trying to beat Alabama these days. Perhaps Auburn was willing to borrow a few Mission: Impossible tactics to gain an advantage over its rival.
Justin Hokanson of Rivals.com isn't interested so much in Auburn boosters wearing facial masks and dangling over security systems via cables. He's more interested in recruiting:
I spoke with #Rivals100 QB commit Jeremy Johnson recently, he said if Gus Malzahn were hired, he'd sign with Auburn.— Justin Hokanson (@JHokanson) December 4, 2012
Malzahn is a familiar and respected face in Auburn circles. He's an Auburn guy, and that will help in recruiting.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports can't help but feel that Tuesday's hirings have made an already powerful conference all the more lethal:
Bielema to Arkansas. Malzahn to Auburn. SEC is loading up— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) December 4, 2012
The football rich get football richer.
Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated is curious to see what Malzahn's coaching staff will look like:
Most fascinating thing about Auburn will be what staff members Gus keeps. Are Trooper and Luper too hot to keep around?— Pete Thamel(@SIPeteThamel) December 4, 2012
"Too hot" is in reference to an NCAA investigation of the Auburn football program. From Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports:
According to multiple sources, NCAA investigators have spent weeks looking into potential improprieties involving Auburn recruits, players, coaches, representatives of the school's athletic interests and third parties. Assistant coaches Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper have been scrutinized by the NCAA, sources said. Taylor is the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach, while Luper coaches running backs and is the recruiting coordinator.
Might Malzahn decide to cut ties with any questionable staffers and start anew?
Bruce Feldman of CBS hasn't gotten that far just yet. He's happy to point out that Malzahn—a hot name among coaching candidates who didn't end up with the big-time job many pegged him for a year ago—has gotten himself a big gig:
A yr ago ppl talked abt how Guz Malzahn went from hot OC to "only" landing ArkSt. Looks like it worked out very well for him— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) December 4, 2012
All good things come to those (football coaches) who wait.
Mark Schlabach of ESPN continues in that same vein, only from the perspective of Auburn's mistake in letting Malzahn leave in the first place:
I think #auburn realized it ran off wrong coach last year— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) December 4, 2012
Well, he's back now, so let's allow those bygones to be bygones.
Of course, not everyone is thrilled with the move. Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution isn't convinced that Malzahn was Auburn's first choice:
Can't imagine Auburn actually chose Gus Malzahn over Kirby Smart, would lead me to believe he said no.— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzAJC) December 4, 2012
Maybe Smart said no, maybe he didn't. Hard to imagine passing up a job like that of Auburn for a defensive coordinator, but you never know.
What we do know is that Malzahn is back at Auburn and certainly has a lot of work in front of him to turn this proud program back into a national power. Based on his track record and familiarity with the program, I think he's up to the task.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets didn't see this one coming either.