Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn Is Doing the Right Thing by Expanding His Staff

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Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn Is Doing the Right Thing by Expanding His Staff
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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn

If you know football and are in the job market, Auburn may be the place for you.

Names and roles of first-year head coach Gus Malzahn's off-the-field staff were published by AL.com on Monday, and the list is quite expansive.

Malzahn will have 21 staff members in off-the-field roles, including 10 members of the football operations department and six football analysts. Two of those analysts—Chip Lindsey and Dell McGee—are former high-profile high school head coaches who were brought in when the NCAA approved a proposal that would allow off-the-field staffers to recruit.

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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn

That proposal was later suspended, but Lindsey and McGee stayed on staff.

The 21 off-the-field football staff members are seven more than former head coach Gene Chizik had during his final season on the Plains. Jay G. Tate of AuburnSports.com (subscription required) detailed Malzahn's philosophical shift in February, and that shift is now apparent.

The massive off-the-field operation mirrors that of Alabama's, which head coach Nick Saban expanded when he go the job in 2007 to give more responsibilities to off-the-field staff members.

Why is this structure so critical?

Four eyes are better than two, eight are better than four and 42 would be ideal. When coaches are on the road recruiting, it allows preparation to continue at virtually the same rate. It allows staffs to develop and keep more active relationships with high schools 24/7/365. It allows a greater amount of information to be determined and distributed at all times.

Football is a contact sport on the field and off, and having a support staff that can be in constant contact with with high schools, game film and scouting efforts is invaluable.

This is the new look of big-time college football.

Texas head coach Mack Brown commented on the trend in February to the Longhorn Network (h/t: CoachingSearch.com):

Alabama is ahead of all of us with the number of personnel they've hired, and that's something everybody's looking very closely at. 

There is not a limit right now on analysts or quality control guys. I think you'll see a limit. It's just my opinion. But right now, there's not one. Again, it's something we've all looked carefully at and what's best for college football and for Texas and some don't have as much money. Those are things that the NCAA, presidents and athletic directors are looking at very closely. 

With more money coming into football programs, expect this trend to continue—staff limit or not. Auburn lured McGee and Lindsey away from some sweet gigs in high school, and Alabama hired former Clemson and Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kevin Steele for an off-the-field role this offseason.

Do off-the-field staffs present an unfair advantage to programs with bigger budgets?

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Essentially, this is consolidation of coaching power. Whether there's a staff limit or not, these jobs are still attractive alternatives for coaches who either can't cut it on the field or prefer a more behind-the-scenes role.

Malzahn may be inexperienced by head coaching standards, but he's running his program like a seasoned veteran. Instead of hiring nine quality assistants whom he feels can handle the bulk of the coaching responsibilities, he's creating a wide-ranging support staff with specific responsibilities.

That's a good sign for the direction of the football program.

 

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