HOOVER, Ala. — It is the time of the year when coaches are asked about their current employment status and so-called hot seats.
Malzahn was asked at SEC Media Days this week why he received the chance to coach a fifth season at Auburn. His answer would lead you to believe that he did not appreciate the question.
“We were the number two team in the SEC last year,” Malzahn said. “We went on a real good run, and we had a couple of key unfortunate injuries late (in the season). But this year, I’m really looking forward to the year and I think we’ve got a chance to compete for a championship. That was an interesting question.”
The two key injuries that Malzhan is referencing are likely to running back Kamryn Pettway and quarterback Sean White. Pettway missed games against Georgia and Alabama A&M with a leg injury and White sat out the Alabama A&M and Alabama games with a shoulder issue while being considerably limited against Georgia.
White missed this spring as well after breaking his forearm against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Running back Kerryon Johnson also missed the Arkansas game from 2016 with an ankle injury and was less than 100% through the middle of the schedule.
In fairness, the reporter who asked the question was not far off base historically. Gene Chizik was 33-19 when he was fired after four seasons with the Tigers; Malzahn is 35-18.
Chizik does have a national title on his resume; Malzahn’s Tigers played for the national title at the end of the 2013 season. Both coaches won the SEC Championship once during their career’s at Auburn.
Despite not being picked to win the SEC West, Auburn is expected to be a College Football Playoff contender in 2017. Experts believe the Tigers could have a huge season now that Baylor transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham is part of the program.
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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