Kevin Scarbinsky of al.com raised interesting points about the Gus Malzahn hire as Auburn’s 26th head coach on Tuesday. His piece discussed similarities of Malzahn to Gene Chizik—faith, family and numerous other details—but midway through it talks why the Tigers took Malzahn instead of Kirby Smart.
Smart allegedly brought a list of demands with him to the negotiating table. They were things like complete control over his staff and knowledge of the reported ongoing NCAA investigation. The report states that Auburn denied those requests, and that was the right move for Auburn to make.
Scarbinsky agrees. Here is an excerpt from his piece:
His demands included full disclosure of the state of the NCAA’s current look-see at the Auburn program, full control of hiring and firing staffers and the opportunity to coordinate the Alabama defense in the BCS Championship Game against Notre Dame.
Smart’s demands are perfectly understandable. So is Auburn’s unwillingness to grant them, which is part of the reason Auburn didn’t offer Smart the job and turned toward Malzahn.
What is not mentioned is whether or not Malzahn asked for those same disclosures. It is obvious that Auburn offered Malzahn the position and according to the report, did not offer the job to Smart.
Would those disclosures not come after an offer is made? That would be my assumption—disclose the goods that are vital after the offer. Things don’t leave the house unless you get invited in, and Smart wasn’t invited.
Furthermore, what head coach doesn’t ask to hire and fire his own staff? Every coach should have the obligation to choose his coaches. There isn’t a doubt that Malzahn will have that luxury at Auburn.
Malzahn and Smart would be stupid to not have a plan listing those details when they took the interview with Auburn’s search committee. They both likely did, and that could have tipped the decision.
Was Malzahn a better hire than Smart?
As for the NCAA investigation, schools are locked up by gag orders from the NCAA about ongoing investigations. The only way that information could be discussed without recourse would be in the setting of a job offer and negotiation.
Scarbinsky also mentions that Smart wanted to coach in the BCS National Championship Game. While I can’t blame Smart, does anyone believe that Saban would allow that to happen?
I can’t see it, but who knows. Auburn people wouldn’t want him there, and Alabama fans probably wouldn’t either.
This search came down to a number of things, but who hires and fires assistants, and NCAA disclosures are not what made the decision. I agree with Scarbinsky, Auburn did the right thing in not giving Smart what he wanted.
Malzahn was the better hire.