After a shockingly disappointing 3-9 season in 2012, Auburn canned BCS title-winning coach Gene Chizik and brought back his old offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, to run the show. Malzahn’s message to his players is clear — forget about last season:
“All I can tell you is we’re moving forward… I told the players: ‘I don’t care what you’ve done in the past. I don’t care what happened last year. We’re starting over.’
I promise you this: We’re going to get back to playing good, hard-nosed Auburn football… Our guys are excited. They’re looking forward to spring practice, they’re looking forward to next year, and that really makes me feel good.”
If the Tigers show any improvement at all they should have four built-in non-conference wins. AU will play Arkansas State (Malzahn’s last school), Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic, and they open the season at home against Washington State. Expect the showdown between Malzahn’s offense and Mike Leach’s offense to get plenty of August pub.
Inside the league, AU will face the rough-and-tumble West Division schedule with permanent cross-over rival Georgia and rotating East Division team Tennessee. With that slate, Malzahn will likely turn the Tigers in the right direction and get them back into a bowl game. But unless he’s got another Cam Newton tucked away on the Tigers’ roster, his team probably won’t be getting all the way back in first year.