COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Minutes prior to kickoff at Kyle Field, the press box swayed as the Aggie faithful stomped, cheered and attempted to eject the Auburn Tigers from their turf before the game could begin. Four plays later, Auburn wide receiver Anthony Schwartz took a reverse 57 yards to the house, showcasing his sub-10.2-second 100-yard dash speed.
The Texas A&M crowd went silent.
If you’re into metaphors, Schwartz’s touchdown is much like what Gus Malzahn did to the hot seat rumors that popped up around Auburn this week. The No. 8 Tigers went on the road and bullied No. 15 Texas A&M, 28-20. It’s the Tigers’ second top 15 win of the season, and it should silence any of the absurd chatter surrounding Malzahn’s job.
At least as much as one can in this college football hot seat world.
“I’m going to be honest with you, if you’re not on the hot seat then your job is probably not important,” Auburn preseason All-American defensive tackle Derrick Brown said. “Coach Malzahn, they say he’s on the hot seat all the time. You’ve got to win the SEC. That’s what people want to see. That’s what’s got to happen.”
In case you’re not very online (or a member of an Auburn-based message board), a rumor flew this week that a high-profile Auburn booster wanted Bob Stoops as the Tigers’ next head coach. There were several issues with this report. 1. Malzahn was 3-0. 2. We’re three weeks into the season. 3. Bob Stoops has maintained consistently he won’t go back to college coaching, and he too already has another job with an XFL startup.
This is college football, however, and rumors will always bubble to the surface. Sometimes it makes sense to discuss a coach’s job status. Other times, like in this situation, it’s ridiculous to even put that report out there in the world. Auburn was 3-0. Just chill.
Now that the Tigers are unbeaten with wins over Oregon and Texas A&M – the best two wins of anyone in college football this season – Malzahn should be given some rare breathing room.
Auburn is far from a perfect football team. The defense, particularly the defensive line, is a domineering unit. Yet the offense, led by the inconsistent play of true freshman Bo Nix, stalls for long stretches. It’s unclear if that fault will cost Auburn in future games with Florida, LSU, Georgia and Alabama this season.
But can we all agree to give Malzahn and the Tigers an opportunity to play out the year?
At this point, given the wins on the schedule, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Auburn could reach the playoffs with a pair of losses like it nearly did two seasons ago. You know, the year that earned Malzhan a seven-year contract extension? I’m not saying I think that’s going to happen. But with a win over Texas A&M, the Tigers are no worse than the third-best team in an absolutely stacked SEC West, and they’ve got the only coach in the SEC who can beat Nick Saban. That should be enough.
College football is the best even if its rumor mill is often insane. Malzahn, in a week his hot seat artificially kicked up, silenced all of his critics.