The Auburn Tigers secured a sixth win on Saturday after defeating Mississippi State 24-10, finishing the regular season 6-4. One day later, the team announced the firing of head coach Gus Malzahn. His tenure comes to an end after eight seasons, two SEC West crowns, a conference title and a trip to the BCS National Championship game.
"After evaluating the state of the Auburn football program, we’ve decided that it was time to make a change in leadership," athletics director Allen Greene said in a statement. "We appreciate everything that Gus did for the program over the last eight seasons. We will begin a search immediately for a coach that can help the Auburn program consistently compete at the highest level." While the search continues, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will serve as the interim coach.
The Tigers won several games under Malzahn and even reached the BCS National Championship Game following the 2013 season, the coach's first year leading the team. However, Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles secured the 34-31 victory and hoisted the trophy at the end of the game. Auburn never returned to the title game under Malzahn's leadership and won at least seven games every season from 2013-2019. He is only one of three coaches in school history, never to suffer a losing season.
"Coach Malzahn led the Auburn football program with honor and integrity," president Jay Gogue said in a statement. "We appreciate his service to Auburn Athletics, Auburn University and, in particular, our student-athletes. We wish him and Kristi all the best."
While Malzahn led the Tigers to win seasons each year, his teams struggled in categories important to the fans. Auburn only achieved an 8-17 record against SEC powerhouses in Alabama, Georgia and LSU. His teams also went 0-12 mark during road games against these rivals.
The Tigers also struggled in postseason and bowl games. The team lost the SEC Championship Game and Peach Bowl in 2017 after upsetting Georgia and Alabama to secure the SEC West. Auburn only achieved a 2-5 record in bowl games and a 3-7 postseason record under Malzahn.
Despite losing his job, the head coach will walk away with a considerable amount of money. He just finished the third year of a seven-year, $49 million contract that he signed after the 2017 season. This deal includes a buyout of more than $21 million, which Auburn will pay. Half of the money is due within 30 days.