(Special to Gridiron Now from Brian Stultz)
When something is held dear by someone, that person will be the last person to realize when it is time to give it up. When doing it your own way is not the right move anymore, giving up control can be tough.
This is exactly what is happening at Auburn right now. The Tigers’ offense has come to a standstill. Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey or no Chip Lindsey, there is no reason – or evidence – to believe this offense is not under the control of Gus Malzahn.
The Tigers’ offensive struggles have Malzahn’s scent all over them. While we might never know what Lindsey could do with complete control – if you believe he has that now, I have some stocks to sell you – of the offense, it is time Malzahn cuts the cord on both himself running the offense and Lindsey as a puppet in the booth.
Luckily for Malzahn, there is a man desperately wanting to coach again who, if called today, would be on The Plains as quickly as another third-and-out by the Tigers. Oh, and he just happens to be good friends with Malzahn.
That man is Hugh Freeze.
(Disclosure: Freeze and I are friends.)
Mock this idea if you want, Auburn fans.
I can already hear the question, “Why would we bring in Freeze after what happened at Ole Miss?”
To that, I say look at the history.
Isn’t the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium named after a coach who resigned due to putting the program on probation? Wasn’t the school’s last Heisman Trophy winner kicked out of his previous school? Does the name Bruce Pearl ring a bell?
Let’s not pretend that Auburn hasn’t given plenty of people second chances. Why should Freeze be any different?
Freeze would be the perfect coach for this offense starting next season.
Auburn’s woeful offense is wasting major talent. Another trip to the (gulp!) Birmingham Bowl is a real possibility for this team. Despite his $33 million-plus buyout Malzahn is owed if fired, some Tiger fans will be calling for a change at head coach he refuses to make other changes.
Malzahn will keep his job, sure, but a shake-up is necessary. The offense has become more plain than the paper Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute used to sell, culminating in a performance against Mississippi State this past Saturday that at times made the second half of the 2017 LSU game look pretty.
Frankly, opposing defenses have it – and him – figured out.
Freeze went from a peak of winning 10 games at Ole Miss to the depths of having his personal failures aired out in public. He would bring fresh ideas to a stagnant offense. In conversations, he has admitted that it is hard to watch college football and not be involved in the game. He’s spending time drawing up plays, thinking of multiple ways to combat different defenses, and gnawing at the bit to be on the sidelines.
This wouldn’t be an experiment. Lest we forget what his offenses did in Oxford: in 2015, the Rebels averaged 40.8 points and 517.8 yards per game. This is not a Tony Franklin case. This is a man who has proven himself at the top level of college football.
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