Offer on the table
AUBURN | The Tigers have made the first move in their search for a new defensive coordinator.
Former Florida head coach Will Muschamp has been offered the job and is considering the opportunity, AuburnSports.com has learned. The one-time Auburn assistant coached the Gators during their loss at Florida State last weekend and held firm on plans to spend some time clearing his head before considering his next move.
He has several options to consider.
Sources say Muschamp also has received a lucrative offer from Texas A&M, which fired defensive coordinator Mark Snyder on Sunday. Auburn has assured Muschamp that it will compete with any offer made by a university program, though at least two NFL organizations have contacted him with provisional offers.
Gus Malzahn doesn't want to pressure Muschamp and is willing to give him time to plot his next move. Muschamp hasn't given any of his suitors meaningful information regarding his personal, long-term plan.
As such, establishing a hiring timeline is impossible.
Auburn can be patient for now, but it cannot remain in a holding pattern. With Ellis Johnson now removed from his position as defensive coordinator, the team's defensive assistants are in an uncomfortable position knowing their days on the Plains may be numbered.
That could affect the Tigers' recruiting effort if allowed to fester, but Malzahn understands the situation. He'll make a hire no later than next week.
Muschamp won't come cheaply. He is owed approximately $6 million from Florida after earning $2.7 million per season in Gainesville. Auburn apparently is prepared to spend at least $1.2 million per year for Muschamp's services, though it's unclear how comfortably the athletic department can foot the bill.
Johnson is owed slightly more than $2 million on his guaranteed deal while attrition affecting current assistants could add another $1 million to the dismissal bill. The department also will be paying ousted basketball coach Tony Barbee a total of $2.4 million during the next three years while also paying new coach Bruce Pearl $15 million during the next six years.
Those expenses come on the heels of a multimillion-dollar investment into technical upgrades related to the SEC Network roll-out. The network will generate additional revenue for all schools in time, but schools won't begin enjoying that windfall until 2016 at the earliest.
So what happens if Muschamp spurns the Tigers?
Bill Clark, who served as UAB's head coach last season, is gaining momentum as a prized candidate. The Blazers were shut down by the university's president on Tuesday despite qualifying for a bowl game for only the second time in the program's history.
Clark served as defensive coordinator at South Alabama before one-year stints as head coach at UAB and Jacksonville State. Both of those seasons far exceeded expectations.
An afterthought to Auburn just a few days ago, Clark could move into the picture quickly.
Memphis defensive coordinator Barry Odom, who spoke with Auburn earlier this week, also remains a popular candidate based largely on his strong body of work with the Tigers. They fielded one of the weakest defenses in the Bowl Subdivision the year before Odom arrived, but finished among conference leaders during his third season this fall.
Points allowed per game have dropped from 35.1 to 17.1 under Odom's watch.
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