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Auburn fired Gus Malzahn

Auburn fires head coach Gus Malzahn

A third annual opponent for Georgia has parted ways with its head coach, as Auburn made the decision to fire Gus Malzahn on Sunday.

The Tigers went 6-4 this season, finishing with a win over Mississippi State. Auburn began the season ranked in the top-10 but finished with losses to Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Texas A&M.

Kevin Steele will serve as the interim coach for the Tigers.

“After evaluating the state of the Auburn football program, we’ve decided that it was time to make a change in leadership,” Auburn Athletic Director Allen Green 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.”

Malzahn went 2-7 in his career against Georgia, with the two wins coming in 2013 and 2017.

South Carolina fired Will Muschamp and replaced him with Shane Beamer. Vanderbilt also parted ways with Derek Mason during this season. Malzahn went 68-35 in his time at Auburn, which began in 2013. He won the SEC once, made an appearance in a national championship game and beat Alabama three times.

The move to fire Malzahn comes just days before the Early Signing Period starts. Auburn’s recruiting class has plummeted in the 2021 recruiting cycle, as it sits at No. 42. Georgia beat out Auburn for the likes of Smael Mondon, Kamari Lassiter and Nyland Green in the 2021 recruiting cycle.

Auburn has said Malzahn will be paid out his full buyout, which is reportedly $21.45 million. Due a contract stipulation, Auburn must pay half of that buyout in the next 30 days.

The obvious front-runner for the Auburn job is Liberty coach Hugh Freeze. He has SEC experience, as well as a track record of beating Nick Saban dating back to his time at Ole Miss.

Another name to watch for the job possibly include Billy Napier of Lousiana-Lafayette, though he just turned down an opportunity to be the head coach at South Carolina. Oregon coach Mario Cristobal is also a name to watch according to John Talty of Al.com.

The news caught many off-guard and produced a number of reactions from the fans and media. The Auburn job is easily the biggest job to come open during this coaching season.

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