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Malzahn Might’ve Passed On Maryland Opportunity

A month ago, there was no doubt that Vanderbilt and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn were in serious talks regarding Vandy’s head coaching job. 

Malzahn turned the job down and received a raise to $1.3 million per year on The Plains for doing so.

Last week word came that Maryland was interested in chatting with Malzahn about its own vacancy.  Only this time, the rumors never actually moved from simmer to boil.

But according to Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News it might have been Malzahn who cooled the Maryland talk. 

“I believe Malzahn was interested in Maryland, and vice versa, and I understand the two sides did talk,” Scarbinsky writes.  But the two parties did not speak face to face.  Only two candidates interviewed in College Park and toured the campus — Mike Leach and Randy Edsall.  UM’s athletic director said a third candidate declined an invitation to come to Maryland’s campus.  Scarbinsky believes that candidate might have been Malzahn.

Scarbinsky believes that Malzahn might have passed on Maryland because of the timing of the Terps’ opening: “Had he taken the Maryland job this close to kickoff against Oregon — after Auburn opened the vault to raise him to $1.3 million a year — people would’ve blamed him.”

A little aside here — When we see a writer pen consistently glowing columns and articles about a subject, we tend to think that the subject has become a source for the writer.  And Scarbinsky has written many, many, many nice things about Malzahn this season.  So if a connection does exist between the writer and the coach, the “Malzahn chose not to pursue the Maryland job” spin could be coming from the coach himself.

But it’s also possible that Scarbinsky is simply speculating based on contacts not named Gus.

In that case, we can speculate, too.  It’s possible that Malzahn knew that he didn’t have a great shot to land the Maryland job and therefore chose not to upset the folks in his own backyard.  AU backers likely wouldn’t have appreciated Malzahn chasing yet another job right after he was given a mondo raise for nixing VU’s advances.

Maryland could have hired Leach, but instead the school chose to go the safe route and bring in UConn’s Edsall — a fact that’s been met with yawns in College Park.  Malzahn has never been a head coach in college and was coaching in high school just six years ago.  So it’s certainly possible that UM officials would have viewed Edsall as a safer pick than Malzahn, too.

Whatever the reason, Malzahn and Maryland never truly acted on their mutual interest.  And Auburn fans are plenty glad about that heading into Monday’s BCS title game.

 


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