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Forde-Yard Dash: Gus Malzahn


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Forde-Yard Dash: Is Gus Malzahn the Luckiest Man Alive?

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

 

FOURTH QUARTER: IS GUS MALZAHN THE LUCKIEST MAN ALIVE?

Auburn coach and Waffle House devotee Gus Malzahn (31) has been smothered and covered in blessed fortune during his eight-year tenure at the Loveliest Little Village on the Plains. Good breaks? He’s had more than his share. Chalk it up to clean living or whatever, but if Gus had ordinary luck he would be long gone as the coach of the Tigers, and several million dollars poorer. (While still quite rich.)

This season, as his team has wheezed its way to a 3–2 record that could realistically be 1–4, Malzahn seems to have cashed in every chip at the Football Fate Casino. As one questionable officiating call after another has gone Auburn’s way, it only serves as a reminder of all the other times Malzahn has gotten just the right break at just the right time. (We could go back to his days as offensive coordinator in 2010, when Auburn won the national title in no small part because Michael Dyer barely was not down against Oregon, and because Cam Newton barely kept his eligibility. But let’s keep this head coach-specific.)

Assuredly, Auburn fans can produce their own laundry list of unlucky breaks and bad calls in the last eight seasons. But the breaks that have gone their way are numerous, momentous and memorable. The Dash compendium of Gus’s good luck:

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Nov. 16, 2013: The Prayer at Jordan-Hare (32). Having blown a 17-point lead to Georgia and now trailing 38–37 with 35 seconds left, Auburn faced a fourth-and-18 at its own 27-yard line. In desperation mode, quarterback Nick Marshall dropped back and chucked it as far as he could, into double coverage, in the direction of Ricardo Louis. The play was destined to fail—until Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons tipped the ball away from teammate Tray Matthews, who was in perfect position to either intercept or simply knock the ball down and end the game. The deflection landed in the hands of Louis, who ran untouched into the end zone for the winning touchdown.

Nov. 30, 2013: The Kick Six (33). The epic winning play itself wasn’t really lucky—it was preparedness meeting opportunity. But there was some Malzahn Magic before the 109-yard field goal return.

Start with the fact that Alabama missed four field goals in the game, and the dysfunction in that department also prompted Nick Saban to go for a fourth-and-short from the Auburn 13-yard line in the fourth quarter and not make it. Then there was the fact that a second was put back on the clock at the end of the game, setting up the Kick Six—the first in a series of last-second clock calls that have gone Gus’s way. Putting a tick back on the clock gave Alabama the chance to try a futile, 57-yard field goal—and then gave Chris Davis a chance to run it all the way back into Iron Bowl lore.

Sept. 24, 2016: The Les Miles Goodbye Game (34). On the strength of six Daniel Carlson field goals, Auburn was clinging to an 18–13 lead over LSU. The bayou Tigers were driving late, but an illegal shift pushed them back to the 15-yard line with time running off the clock. LSU rushed to the line and snapped the ball to quarterback Danny Etling, who rolled right and threw what looked like the winning touchdown. But upon review, the clock had expired before LSU got the play off. LSU fired Les Miles the next day.

Nov. 30, 2019: Tua is out, Mac Jones is in (35). Two weeks earlier, Alabama star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered the hip dislocation that ended his college career. That meant Jones’s first SEC start would be in the Iron Bowl at Auburn. Jones played well for the most part, but he also served up two pick-sixes—and the second of those was a 100-yard fluke. Jones was throwing a short route into the end zone for Najee Harris out of the backfield, but threw it behind Harris’s back. He reached back with his right hand and deflected the ball right to Zakoby McClain, who returned it all the way.

This was another game that featured a clock review that went Auburn’s way. Officials put a second back on the clock at the end of the first half that allowed Anders Carlson to nail a 52-yard field goal, in a game that was decided by three points. That play led to a rule change, which said that a team cannot line up and successfully snap the ball with just one second on clock.

Pretty much all of 2020: Refs bail out Auburn (36).

It started in the season opener against Kentucky, when a clear Wildcats touchdown in the final seconds of the first half was not signaled on the field and somehow not overturned upon review. A subsequent Kentucky run was stuffed, and quarterback Terry Wilson then threw a pick-six—but that was overturned on an Auburn targeting call. The entire possession was a wash, but Kentucky should have had the touchdown and a halftime lead. The Tigers went on to win 29–13.

Two weeks later, Auburn was about to lose to underdog Arkansas. Hurriedly trying to spike the ball and set up a winning field goal, quarterback Bo Nix fumbled the snap and then spiked it backward, which should have been a fumble. It was not called a fumble, and Anders Carlson nailed the winning kick.

And last Saturday, inside the final six minutes of the game against Mississippi, Auburn got one more break. Ole Miss had just scored to take a 28–27 lead, and its kickoff bounced toward return man Shaun Shivers at the Auburn 9-yard line. Slow-motion replay showed the ball appeared to touch Shivers’s hand, but he let it go into the end zone for what was called a touchback. Ole Miss players hustled down and dove on the ball, to no avail. Four minutes later, Auburn scored the winning touchdown. Later replays showed what happened, which prompted passive-aggressive Ole Miss provocateur Lane Kiffin to retweet someone ripping the refs for blowing the call.

Monday night, the SEC sent out a release acknowledging that the game should have been stopped for a slow-motion replay review. It was not. And the SEC also said it is fining Kiffin $25,000. Earlier in the day, after a phone call with the SEC office to discuss the play, Kiffin said this at his weekly press conference: “I've had to take about a five-minute power yoga class before I walked in here and said what I really want to.” Then Monday night, Kiffy went back on Twitter and asked where he can get enough pennies to pay the fine that way.

Meanwhile, the Gus Bus wobbles on in search of its next moment of divine providence.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Don’t look now, but the state of Indiana (37) is off to a glorious start—and we’re not talking about basketball. Both Indiana and Purdue were upset winners Saturday, the Hoosiers winning a thriller over Penn State and the short-handed Boilermakers beating Iowa. Last time the two of them both started Big Ten play 1–0? It was 2001.

But it could get better. Both are favored this weekend—Indiana by 12 1/2 at Rutgers, Purdue by seven at Illinois. Last time they both started 2–0 in Big Ten play? Try 1976.

Now add one more layer and it really gets crazy. There is a third Power 5 school in the state, a small Catholic college in South Bend. Notre Dame is 5–0 and favored by 20 at Georgia Tech. Last time Notre Dame started a season 6–0 and both Indiana and Purdue were 2–0 in their conference? Never. Hasn’t happened. But, hey, the Hoosiers and Boilermakers have only been playing in the same league since 1901.

COACH WHO EARNED HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK

Brian Brohm (38), Purdue. The Boilermakers quarterback coach was thrust into head-coaching duties when his big brother, Jeff, was waylaid by COVID-19. The biggest complication there: Jeff is his own play-caller, which meant that Brian was in charge of the call sheet for the first time. The result: a 24–20 Purdue win in which the Boilers executed two long fourth-quarter drives to pull off the comeback. “I thought Brian did a very good job, and I had great confidence that he would,” Jeff Brohm said Monday. “He’s played the quarterback position for a long time. He's been with me, as well. We've got the same blood. We kind of think alike a little bit even though he's much calmer and cool and collected than me, which is a great quality to have.”

COACH WHO SHOULD TAKE THE BUS TO WORK

James Franklin (39), Penn State. To repeat an ancient life lesson: If someone is giving you something for free, be wary. Indiana gave Penn State a free touchdown and the Nittany Lions foolishly accepted it, giving the Hoosiers the chance to keep the game alive, tie it in regulation and win it in overtime. It wasn’t a great day on the sidelines for a guy who is a master program builder but sometimes an iffy in-game coach.

POINT AFTER

The Dash went nowhere this week, a sign of the COVID times, but there were some wings to smoke at home and some beer to drink with them. A buddy sent down an assortment of Wisconsin brews, and the choice was a Snake Hollow IPA (40) from Potosi Brewing Company. Get yourself a six pack and thank The Dash later. 

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i post opinions i do not always agree with. i also do not refuse to post something i see i might not like because i think auburn fans deserve to know what is being said. i disagree with his comments about dyer and cam so save your wrath ok? it is called being informed. personally i will not buy another si mag for a long while.............

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24 minutes ago, aubiefifty said:

i post opinions i do not always agree with. i also do not refuse to post something i see i might not like because i think auburn fans deserve to know what is being said. i disagree with his comments about dyer and cam so save your wrath ok? it is called being informed. personally i will not buy another si mag for a long while.............

They've been headed down this path for awhile. They've let most of their real journalists go and hired clowns like this to replace them. Can't blame them. They're just following the market. But I haven't followed them. 

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The prayer at Jordan Hare should have never come down to that play.  This would be the only one that I’d chalk up to luck due to the bounce.

kick six was Auburn coaching staff out coaching Bama.

Les Miles getting fired and time running out wasn’t luck.  That was time management karma catching up to Les.

The only thing I can say about the Iron Bowl last year is maybe Tua doesn’t throw as many ints.  Mac still threw for a ton of yards and multiple TDs.  The end of each half was a result of Auburn out coaching Alabama.

The stuff this year once again isn’t luck.  
 

Ed Scissum fumble in 98=luck

Mike Dyers knee not touching down=luck

Fumbled snap to lose to TaMu=luck

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Most coaches get an initial contract, typically five years, when they take over a program. During that contract it is "make or break". If the program does not show significant progress during that time, and if there is not a clear indication the program is improving, the coach will not be retained. CGM got a second "make or break" opportunity when Dr. Leath signed off on the seven year extension in (2017). Even a cursory look back should have given any thinking person pause before authorizing any such contract extension. Considering that Auburn is surrounded by schools with excellent recruiters as head coaches, perhaps the greatest stroke of luck CGM will receive in his lifetime was the contract extension in (2017). The way recruiting has been going the last few years, it will require a stroke of good luck exceeding all of the previous blessed events combined for him to get another contract from AU.

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1 hour ago, McLoofus said:

They've been headed down this path for awhile. They've let most of their real journalists go and hired clowns like this to replace them. Can't blame them. They're just following the market. But I haven't followed them. 

I stopped buying SI when Rick Reilly stopped writing for them in 2007. Funny, I'm not as big a fan of him now as I used to be, but I loved his "Life of Reilly" bookend to each issue. Always flipped straight to the back to read his first. 

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5 hours ago, aubiefifty said:

But the breaks that have gone their way are numerous, momentous and memorable.

He then cites four games over 7 seasons.

UGA 2013 - I'll say that was luck.

BAMA 2013 - Bama having a horrible kicking game was not luck on the part of AU, it was Saban thinking Bama was good enough to beat teams without the kicking game. Putting a second back on the clock was not luck as it was the correct call.

LSU 2016 - Not luck, rather the call that time had expired was correct.

BAMA 2019 - Tua getting hurt was not luck on AU's part. Injuries are part of football and they happen to all teams. Two pick sixes was not luck. Players made plays.

He has a pretty good point about 2020 though.

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The people who call Auburn "lucky" have never actually looked at the stats. It's the most surface level opinion imaginable. If they actually spent 3 minutes doing some research they would say "oh, yeah Gus is the lucky one, not the football team." But, I get it. It's easy and fun to be dumb when it comes to college football.

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4 hours ago, Barnacle said:

I stopped buying SI when Rick Reilly stopped writing for them in 2007. Funny, I'm not as big a fan of him now as I used to be, but I loved his "Life of Reilly" bookend to each issue. Always flipped straight to the back to read his first. 

I’m with you. Used to love Reilly but not so much anymore. He also lost a lot of cred with his intense defense of Lance Armstrong....

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Bear Bryant was always accused of being lucky and he often said “luck is when preparation meets opportunity”.   Yes some of the plays cited were lucky but it happens.  The kick 6 was not luck it was good coaching on Auburn’s part and karma kicking Saban’s butt.  The Shivers thing was not luck it was the proper call.  The Les Miles thing was not luck how can it be luck that the clock ran out when the clock eventually runs out on every game that is played? Poor clock management by the other team is not luck for you.  The spike against Arkansas was not luck it was a missed call by an official and that happens all the time.  Officials are human, sometimes they even make tricky tack holding calls 20 yards behind the play and call back 100 yard kickoff returns.  

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Things to keep in mind regarding this article, or any similar sentiments.

#1: Pat Forde was culprit numero uno in the "get Cam Newton ineligible" charge.  He was on that DAILY with false info & incomplete "facts" when on that supposed roundtable show (or whatever it was) on bspn back then.  The drum he beat was enormous. That's pretty much when I quit watching that channel other than to see the CFB games themselves.  He truly seems to have an anti-AU axe to grind.

#2: I was going to quote Samuel Goldwyn who once said "The harder I work, the luckier I get." But, in the case of Gus, I couldn't get through that with a straight face.

However, in this case, unfortunately, Forde's premise is right about Gus (just not necessarily based on the facts presented).

A better article would have said that Gus may not be the luckiest man alive, as that's highly subjective, but is Gus INCREDIBLY lucky?  That's indisputable.  Here's why...

1st: Let's just say "2017 contract buy-out" and that actually says it all!

......but I'm a little bored waiting for the final house walk-through and itching to get on the road, so I'll ramble the rest of my thoughts anyway.

2nd: $7-8M per year for very poorly coaching & developing talent...not to mention the glaring recruiting deficiencies & pathetic record against AU's main rivals... at an SECW blueblood school when he should be making 1/3 of that coaching in the MAC or AAC.  (Which would still be paying a "HS COACH" $3M per year!!!)

3rd: He'd actually come out ahead if he got fired rather than keeping his job.  How many Americans (or ANYBODY) can say that?  He could sleep til the crack of noon, drive his "super car" slowly, in the left lane (probably with the blinker on), on his way to buy mansions & yachts & private jets if he were so inclined (while unemployed) when most Americans have to actually stress over their job performance to be able to actually keep their job just to make barely a living wage (or less).  This is ESPECIALLY true in the insanity that is the year 2020!

4th: All the while also Gus could apparently kick his bosses in the nuts or give them purple nurples on a daily basis trying to GET fired & they won't do it.  Wouldn't THAT be fun?!?!

So yes, Gus IS quite lucky.

Anyway, that's my opinion, you're welcome to yours.

Edited by AUsince72
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So many things wrong with this article but I'm gonna focus on this. It was not luck that we beat Alabama in 2019. It was a great played game. And I personally think Alabama upgraded at qb with Mac Jones. Not downgraded. 

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With how much people talk about the Dyer was down play you'd think there was 30 seconds on the clock or something.

If Dyer had been ruled down, it would've 2nd and 5 at the Auburn 45 with 2:05 on the clock. Still plenty of time to score. He gained about an extra 30 yards after the bad tackle.

Anyways, I just think it's overrated when people talk about how it was a game changing play. It wasn't really imo. Also it was clear when they almost let Dyer score a TD that the ducks weren't going to stop the run game on that drive.

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2 hours ago, shabby said:

So many things wrong with this article but I'm gonna focus on this. It was not luck that we beat Alabama in 2019. It was a great played game. And I personally think Alabama upgraded at qb with Mac Jones. Not downgraded. 

I hate how when if the other team screws up it's luck.

Apparently to win a game without luck the other team has play a perfect game with zero mistakes of any kind.

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30 minutes ago, gr82b4au said:

That dude HATES auburn. 

Forde is obsessed with Gus, but I don't think Gus could pick Forde out of a lineup. 

Credit when due, always. Gus lives rent free in that empty airplane hangar that Forde calls a skull, and doesn't even know the address. Advantage: Gus

 

(Somebody please bump this thread when news breaks that Cam Newton and/or Bruce Pearl has kicked Pat Forde in the nuts.)

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20 minutes ago, McLoofus said:

Forde is obsessed with Gus, but I don't think Gus could pick Forde out of a lineup. 

Credit when due, always. Gus lives rent free in that empty airplane hangar that Forde calls a skull, and doesn't even know the address. Advantage: Gus

 

(Somebody please bump this thread when news breaks that Cam Newton and/or Bruce Pearl has kicked Pat Forde in the nuts.)

Wasn't Forde (along with Pete Thamel and some other media ghouls whose names I can't remember) one of the ringleaders of the whole Cam Newton eligibility circus? 

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1 hour ago, gr82b4au said:

That dude HATES auburn. 

He’s to us what J Jonah Jameson is to Spider-Man. Or is that Thayer?

The fact that these guys were quoting a site named “Roopstigo” from a journalist who was fired for a proven false story should tell you something.

Edited by AUwent
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15 minutes ago, AUAlumnTN said:

Wasn't Forde (along with Pete Thamel and some other media ghouls whose names I can't remember) one of the ringleaders of the whole Cam Newton eligibility circus? 

Bingo. Thayer Evans was the third stooge. 

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  • WarTiger changed the title to Forde-Yard Dash: Gus Malzahn
On 10/28/2020 at 9:41 AM, aubiefifty said:

i post opinions i do not always agree with. i also do not refuse to post something i see i might not like because i think auburn fans deserve to know what is being said. i disagree with his comments about dyer and cam so save your wrath ok? it is called being informed. personally i will not buy another si mag for a long while.............

Cancelled my subscription a decade or so ago after having gotten it for 15-20 years.

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On 10/29/2020 at 10:25 AM, AUAlumnTN said:

Wasn't Forde (along with Pete Thamel and some other media ghouls whose names I can't remember) one of the ringleaders of the whole Cam Newton eligibility circus? 

Thayer Evans, the Oklahoma loving punk with the mullet, who has completely disappeared out of the public eye due to his hack job reporting. Karma.

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