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December 5, 2013
AUBURN | What is the greatest turnaround season in Auburn history worth?
We're about to find out.
Athletic director Jay Jacobs said Thursday that he's prepared to discuss revising coach Gus Malzahn's contract to make him one of the most highly paid coaches in the Southeastern Conference. Malzahn, who was hired 366 days ago, currently earns $2.3 million per season on a deal that runs through the 2017 season. Only two league coaches, Kentucky's Mark Stoops and James Franklin at Vanderbilt, earn less per season.
"He needs to be in the top half (of the SEC), whatever that may be," Jacobs said Thursday afternoon. "It would seem fair to me."
Auburn is in the midst of an historic renaissance. The Tigers went winless in conference games last season yet has dropped only one game in 2013. Behind it all is Malzahn, a button-down, calculating man whose team has adopted his personality and emerged as the story of the year in college football.
Jacobs said he's ready to meet with Malzahn and/or his representatives as soon as possible. The Tigers play Missouri this weekend for the conference championship, but the head coach could be available for a trip to the negotiating table as early as next week.
"I'll leave that to him. I'll probably ask him next week what he wants to do," Jacobs said. "He's so focused on one thing to the next. You guys know that by now by working with him this season. We'll sit down as soon as he's ready to sit down."
There may be reason to push the pace.
In an opinion piece published by SI.com earlier this week, reporter Pete Thamel mused that Malzahn has told friends that Texas is his dream job. The Longhorns may be looking for a coach in short order, though Mack Brown rallied from an 0-2 start and now sits at 8-3.
A win at Baylor this weekend could alleviate all talk regarding Brown's job security in Austin. A loss, however, could embolden and perhaps empower Brown's critics.
Jacobs said Thursday that he was aware of the column and the information regarding Texas, but said it doesn't elicit anxiety.
"As far as I know, Texas still has a coach and we want Gus to be here as long as he wants to be here," Jacobs said. "We're going to have a deal that's great for him and good for Auburn. What he's done this year is nothing short of miraculous and he's a great football coach and a great ambassador. These players think the world of him because they trust him. His words and his deeds match up, so he's the right guy for our program."
MORE FROM JACOBS:
Jacobs said his post-game handshake didn't unfold as expected Saturday night. Expecting to discuss the Iron Bowl win, Jacobs instead encountered a man already thinking ahead. "He said, 'It was great. We've got to get ready for Atlanta,'" Jacobs recalled. "I'm sitting here thinking: Ok, that's right, we are going to Atlanta, aren't we. He doesn't slow down."