Auburn Football: Why Cleaning House Was the Right Move by Malzahn

Brett Mixon@@TrueBlueAUContributor IDecember 5, 2012

Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn meets with his team for the first time on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 in Auburn, Ala. Photo credit: Todd Van Emst / Auburn Athletics
Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn meets with his team for the first time on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 in Auburn, Ala. Photo credit: Todd Van Emst / Auburn Athletics

New Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wasted no time in cleaning house among the Auburn coaching staff.

On Wednesday evening, multiple news outlets reported that Malzahn informed all of the remaining assistants from former head coach Gene Chizik's staff that they would not be retained for the 2013 season. 

It was widely assumed that Malzahn would hang onto recruiting coordinator/RB coach Curtis Luper and WR coach Trooper Taylor. Both men are very close to the recruits that make up Auburn's highly-touted recruiting class, currently ranked No. 11 by Rivals. 

Luper and Taylor, along with the rest of the assistants, do have the option of interviewing with the new offensive and defensive coordinators once they are hired on, according to Phillip Marshall of 

5-star recruit Reuben Foster has said on multiple occasions that his Auburn commitment is contingent on the future of Taylor. (via Mike Herndon,

Yes, I was waiting on the head coach to be hired, but even more so I am waiting to see what happens with Coach Taylor because my relationship with him is different than a regular coach to player relationship.

Despite the sting that this recruiting class may take, this was the right move for Malzahn because of the desperate need for a culture change around the Auburn program. 

One or two recruits do not make or break a program, and a culture shock is much more important at this point in time than a recruit that may or may not pan out to meet his star ranking from high school. 

In reality, if all of the assistants that were on staff last year stayed on with Malzahn, what is really different about the Auburn program? There would have been an all-too-familiar feel around the Tigers locker room. In this case, familiarity would have bred the same complacency as fans saw in 2012. 

As good as this staff was at recruiting, a major flaw it had was developing the talent it brought in. There have been three straight top-10 recruiting classes brought in under Chizik. At times in 2011 and 2012, the players looked more like they were from a team who was in its first year of playing football.

There were poor fundamentals and mental mistakes on the field each and every week.  

New coaches coming in will give the players the mindset of having to prove themselves for playing time rather than feeling like their job has already been won because they are so familiar with their position coach. 

Malzahn is well on his way to filling out his new staff. There are reports that former Southern Mississippi head coach and former South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson was in Auburn to interview for the defensive coordinator position on Wednesday. 

The sooner a new staff can be assembled, the sooner it can get on the road to retaining or rebuilding this 2013 recruiting class. 

It was a risky call to release the Auburn coaching staff, specifically the lead recruiters for many of the top recruits in the nation that have committed to Auburn.

As risky as it was, it needed to be done to show that Malzahn was not joking in his introductory press conference when he claimed "It was a new day" for Auburn football.