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December 19, 2012- -
AUBURN -- The search for additional assistants is now Gus Malzahn's top priority.
Auburn's new coach hit the radio waves Wednesday morning to spread the word about how he's going about revitalizing the Tigers' program. After hiring two coordinators and defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison, Malzahn made player assessment his emphasis. That effort included reaching out to every committed player and determining if they fit the Tigers' revamped plans.
And vice versa.
"When you come in new, especially the (prospects) that you don't know or are not familiar with, it works both ways. Is it a good fit for us? Is it a good fit for them," Malzahn said during an appearance on 97.3 FM in Birmingham. "Right now, we're just trying to establish relationships. We're evaluating them; they're evaluating us. We're coming in with a new offense and we're coming in with a new defense. When you combine all those things, information on both ends is what we're looking for."
Now comes the hiring.
Malzahn said his goal is to have a full complement of coaches in place for the first weekend of official visitors, which begins Jan. 4. The Tigers still have six vacancies - running backs, receivers, tight ends/special teams, offensive line, defensive line and a final defensive spot that could be deployed in any number of ways.
Some of Malzahn's targets are coaching in bowl games or the NFL, which has affected their immediate availability. Nonetheless, the coach said his professional advanced have been well-received and he believes Auburn fans will be satisfied with his staffing decisions once everyone is in place.
"We've had some very good discussions with some great coaches," Malzahn said. "There's great interest. We're going to get a phenomenal staff here that's going to represent Auburn well and that people are going to be very excited about."
Other things Malzahn discussed:
On why he didn't retain any of Gene Chizik's on-the-field coaches: " I just felt like it was important to really put my own stamp on this program and start fresh. That's what we're doing."
On his current crop of quarterbacks: "I'm very familiar with those guys. I know they can run our offense. We're evaluating every position and we're recruiting specifically to fill areas of need. That goes for all positions."
On if he's accentuating JUCO recruiting: "When I first got the job, that's one of the first things I did -- I tried to a grip on our personnel. I identified the areas where we needed to improve immediately. We're trying to address those whether it's junior college or high school. We need to shore up some areas ASAP."
On if he's heartened by how quickly Texas A&M became competitive with a hurry-up, no-huddle offense: "Pace is a big advantage in college football - whether it's in this league or another league. That'll be a big part of what we do going forward."