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SEC Coaching Rankings: No. 2 Gus Malzahn

With the SEC season less than four months away, here’s a look at how the conference’s coaches rank in 2015.

Bio: Gus Malzahn is one of the greatest offensive minds in college football. During his first tenure at Auburn, his offense helped Cam Newton win the 2010 Heisman Trophy during a 14-0 BCS title run.

Malzahn accepted the head coaching position at Arkansas State after the following season and led the Red Wolves to a Sun Belt Conference championship. He accepted the head coaching position at Auburn weeks later, inheriting a team that finished 3-9 and winless in conference games in 2012.

Auburn saw an immediate turnaround under Malzahn and won its eighth SEC Championship. But the Tigers’ fell, 34-31, to Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game.

 

1991
1992–1995
1996–2000
2001–2005
2006
2007–2008
2009–2011
2012
2013–present
Hughes (AR) HS (DC)
Hughes (AR) HS
Shiloh Christian (AR) HS
Springdale (AR) HS
Arkansas (OC/WR)
Tulsa (Co-OC/AHC/QB)
Auburn (OC/QB)
Arkansas State
Auburn

Reason For Ranking: Malzahn’s impact at Auburn was best displayed in his absence. Former boss Gene Chizik won a national championship with the offensive guru but saw horrendous results after his departure.

Malzahn proved to be the spark that ignited the Tigers’ championship offense and has produced dynamic quarterbacks in each coaching stint. Newton was a once in a lifetime talent but was best utilized in the coordinator’s scheme. Nick Marshall found success in Malzahn’s offense and is immortalized in the Auburn record books.

The coach holds an impeccable win loss record and has found success at every destination. Malzahn was the SEC’s best recruiter during his first stint at Auburn, which included a top-5 class during the team’s championship season.

Those same players were crucial in his debut season in which the Tigers saw instant improvement. Once again, this list isn’t based solely on past accolades and achievements, but rather who is the top coach entering 2015.

If a team is looking for a head coach and can select any of the SEC’s 14, Malzahn is the top candidate behind Alabama’s Nick Saban — spoiler for the readers not paying attention to the rankings thus far.

2015 Schedule: 

Saturday
Sep. 5
Cardinals Louisville Cardinals
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
TBA
Saturday
Sep. 12
Gamecocks Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL
TBA
Saturday
Sep. 19
Tigers at LSU Tigers
Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
TBA
Saturday
Sep. 26
Bulldogs Mississippi State Bulldogs
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL
TBA
Saturday
Oct. 3
Spartans San Jose State Spartans
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL
TBA
Saturday
Oct. 10
Open Date
Thurs.
Oct. 15
Wildcats at Kentucky Wildcats
Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY
TBA
Saturday
Oct. 24
Razorbacks at Arkansas Razorbacks
D.W.R. Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR
TBA
Saturday
Oct. 31
Rebels Ole Miss Rebels
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL
TBA
Saturday
Nov. 7
Aggies at Texas A&M Aggies
Kyle Field, College Station, TX
TBA
Saturday
Nov. 14
Bulldogs Georgia Bulldogs
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL
TBA
Saturday
Nov. 21
Vandals Idaho Vandals
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL
TBA
Saturday
Nov. 28
Crimson Tide Alabama Crimson Tide
Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL
TBA

2015 Outlook: Auburn was a contender in the SEC West despite suffering several heartbreaking losses. However, the Tigers defense allowed 26.7 points per game and ranked No. 9 in total defense among SEC teams.

Will Muschamp provides an immediate spark at defensive coordinator. Muschamp coached teams have ranked in the top-10 in the FBS each year since 2009. Auburn ranked No. 61 overall in 2014 and hasn’t finished higher than No. 60 in the past six seasons.

The Malzahn-Muschamp pairing will help the Tigers reclaim their position in contention for an SEC Championship. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson has all the tools to flourish in Malzahn’s uptempo offense. The junior has a similar frame to Newton and has excelled in limited playing time.

Auburn returns a talented group of skill players including D’haquille Williams, who ESPN’s Mel Kiper projected as the top wide receiver prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft. The Tigers should challenge in-state rival Alabama for the SEC’s top prize and provide another high stakes Iron Bowl matchup in Week 14.

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