Why would a coach leave Auburn for Arkansas State?

Gus Malzahn is going home ... sort of

I guess everyone isn’t “All In,” Auburn family.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is taking a $550,000 pay cut to become the new head coach at Arkansas State. To answer your first question, ASU’s mascot is the Red Wolf. To answer your other question: yes, the only advancement Malzahn is making with this change of scenery is that he’ll be running his own ship instead of having another coach steer.

A year ago, he reportedly turned down a $3 million contract to become the head coach at Vanderbilt. Is it equivalent to becoming the Oklahoma head coach? No, but it’s surely better than Arkansas State, isn’t it?

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Sure, everyone has to start somewhere if they want to become a head coach, and most coaches’ first time at the helm is at a smaller school. But why did Malzahn turn down the big job a year ago if that’s what he truly wanted?

Did he really think that he could continue winning with an offense that suddenly didn’t have Cam Newton at the quarterback position? I know coaches are stubborn, but did he honestly see Barrett Trotter leading the offense the same way Newton did?

I had this discussion with a fellow co-worker today. He’s an Auburn grad, and like me, he couldn’t come up with any reasons why this made sense. After about five minutes of discussing the topic, we gave up and figured it must be the fault of Malzahn’s crazy wife.

But is it possible that Malzahn really doesn’t want the pressure of a big-time job, and he’s willing to give money back to try being the head honcho at a smaller school? This was a guy that many thought would be an assistant coach in the NFL, if not a head coach at a major college football program. Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof departed days earlier to accept the head coaching spot at UCF … did that have anything to do with Malzahn’s exit?

As you can see, I’m grasping at straws. It would be nice if Malzahn sat down with ESPN or a sports writer to clear the air and let us in on the reasons why he left Auburn for Arkansas Freakin’ State. After Auburn’s national title year, I thought he would make a great head coach at a school like Vanderbilt or Ole Miss.

Or maybe Malzahn is just afraid of the SEC. Yeah … I’m sure that explains it.

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