The year 2012 is a period of time that many Auburn fans would just as soon like to erase from memory than to talk about some more.
Soon enough, we will stop talking about 2012.
The year started off on a high note. Auburn was fresh off of an impressive 43-24 victory over Virginia in the Chick-Fil-A bowl last New Year's Eve in the Georgia Dome. The clock struck midnight and 2013 was brought in with excitement about a new of style of offense and a new defense.
That excitement did not last long.
As we all know, Auburn finished with a 3-9 record and was near the bottom of the SEC in almost every major statistical category on offense and defense.
Gene Chizik was fired as Auburn's head coach after four years at the helm. Former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was hired after being away from the loveliest village for only a year.
"Once I got back on campus, it was like I never left," Malzahn said in an interview on WJOX in Birmingham on December 18.
But fear not, because 2013 will make Auburn fans forget all about 2012. Malzahn can bring back excitement and pride, two things that were severely lacking in 2012, back to Auburn football and the Plains next season.
A good place to start on the road to recovery would be on the recruiting trail with a top-15 recruiting class. Despite a lackluster 2012 season, Auburn continued to recruit at a high level. According to most recruiting services, the class was ranked as high as No. 10 nationally.
Since Chizik was relieved of his duties, Auburn has had seven decommitments from highly touted recruits, such as 5-star LB Reuben Foster. Auburn's recruiting class is currently sitting at No. 21 in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Malzahn is off to a good start.
With just over a month until national signing day (Wednesday, February 6), Malzahn has time to play catch-up and solidify the 2013 recruiting class.
After securing a top-15 recruiting class, the Tigers will move to their first spring practice with Malzahn as head coach.
In that spring practice, or immediately following it, the best thing that can happen is for a definitive No. 1 QB to be named. In three of Chizik's four years as head coach, Auburn went into fall practice without knowing who its starting QB would be.
In 2010, Cam Newton was named the starter roughly 10 days after spring practice was over.
Having a definitive No. 1 QB going into "voluntary" summer workouts is a big deal. The receivers and QB can develop a chemistry with each other.
The offensive linemen, especially the center, can get used to hearing a familiar voice behind them. Non-verbal communication be established and perfected.
Every position should always be open for the taking.
Competition breeds success, after all. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn's 4-star QB commitment, can come in and turn heads and win the starting QB job in the fall. Until then, however, Auburn players need to know who to look to and say, "That's my QB."
Naming a starter during or after spring practice will be a far cry from what Auburn fans have grown accustomed to over the past four years. Going into the season with a starter named will show that this Auburn team will truly be different than the status quo.
Finally, if Auburn can show up throughout the year and play like a team that is well-coached and has a chip on its shoulder, 2012 will become a distant memory.
It's hard to put a finger on exactly what happened last fall, but it wasn't the style of football that Auburn fans who have been following the team passionately for decades are accustomed to seeing. They played undisciplined and soft football for much of the season.
If Auburn can play fundamentally sound and tough football, the wins will come.
And winning will put 2012 in the rear-view mirror faster than anything else.
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