ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum believes one major SEC coach is truly on the hot seat heading into the 2019 season.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was nearly fired after the Tigers’ disappointing 2018 campaign – many boosters wanted him out, says Finebaum – though the school’s president prevented it from happening.
That president is now gone and so is Malzahn’s job security.
Finebaum said on ESPN’s Get Up! this morning that he thinks Malzahn will “likely be gone” without a “significant season.”
Auburn does enter the 2019 season with some hope.
The Tigers have a very good roster and will likely be ranked in the top 10-15 heading into the year.
“I happen to think top to bottom as a football team, particularly on the defensive side of the ball — and also offensively with some of the weapons they have got coming back, which is virtually everybody, this may be the best top-to-bottom team Gus Malzahn has had,” ESPN’s Tom Luginbill said, per AL.com.
Finebaum still has some questions, though.
“(Luginbill) is looking at it analytically,” Finebaum added. “He’s as good as anyone there is, but the problem is psychological. (Auburn) is a slight favorite against Oregon, but you have a brand-new quarterback. Oregon has an experienced quarterback. If Oregon gets on the roll and beats them, the pressure becomes intense.
“Gus Malzahn was nearly fired last season with 35 million in buyout money hanging in the balance. For as talented as they may be, if they don’t gel well, he’s not going to have an answer for the schedule.”
Auburn opens its season on a big stage, taking on Oregon on Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m. E.T.