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SEC Coach Says He Was 'Stunned' By Gus Malzahn's Firing

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn celebrates the win over Alabama.

AUBURN, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 30: Head coach Gus Malzahn of the Auburn Tigers calls a timeout in the final minutes of their 48-45 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan Hare Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Auburn shocked the college football world by firing eight-year head coach Gus Malzahn earlier this week. The Tigers beat Mississippi State to finish the regular season at 6-4, but the rugged performance wasn't enough to save the 55-year-old's job.

Malzahn finished his time at Auburn with a record of 68-35, elevating them to a fearsome competitor in the SEC. The Tigers had two 10-win seasons and made a BCS Championship Game during his tenure.

Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz became the latest big name to speak out about the firing. The current Mizzou program leader worked under Malzahn for two years at Auburn and one season at Arkansas State.

“I’m disappointed for Coach and Kristi, obviously, they mean a tremendous amount to me and my family,” he said. “Obviously wouldn’t be here in my career if it wasn’t for them and the opportunities they presented to me. Disappointed, again, everybody has a right to choose who they employ or not, but man, did a tremendous job. Won the SEC, played in the SEC Championship twice, played in the national championship, won 67 percent of his games or something crazy like that.”

“Just surprised,” Drinkwitz said. “I know he’s used his influence in a positive way, I know he’s got a bright future ahead of him in whatever he chooses to do, and I don’t know. I was surprised, stunned really.”

Drinkwitz's comments came after Alabama head coach Nick Saban expressed confusing about Auburn's decision. The long-time Crimson Tide leader said that "sometimes you wonder why people do what they do."

Clearly, more people though that Malzahn deserved a longer stay at Auburn. However, the administration made it plainly obvious that they wanted him gone. The school is expected to pay Malzahn over $21 million to get out of the last few years of his contract.

Now, the Tigers will join a long list of college football programs looking for a new head coach next season.