Each week throughout the remainder of the season, AuburnUndercover.com will give you a sitdown Q&A session with a former coach. It will feature a nationally known coach or one more closely associated with Auburn.
We will post the featured guest’s name in the forums and you post your questions. We will pick 10 to 15 of the better questions/
This week’s coach is former Pittsburgh, Kansas, Cincinnati and Murray State head coach Mike Gottfried.
[b[Question from OldNewby:[/b] What are your feelings on conference realignments?
Gottfried: “I’m against it. The chain reaction that was set to happen this summer was bad. There’ll be 64 teams playing football and nobody else. I like the fact that Appalachian State beat Michigan and Jacksonville State beat Ole Miss. I like it in basketball when the Gonzagas have a shot to win the championship. I think the conference realignments are bad. It will water down what college football stands for. It’s all about money.”
Question from Jer68: One of the things that pleases me most about Auburn is the emphasis on faith and family with Chette Williams and the current coaching staff. Your Team Focus program sounds great! What age young men do you work with? Do you try to help them get started in a career after graduating from high school or college? How many communities are you in so far? What is the best way to contact you if we want to support your outreach?
Gottfried: “You can visit our website at TeamFocusUSA.org to learn more or to make a donation to our cause. We work with young men between the ages of 10 and 18. Some stay on and work with younger kids. We’re going to hire three of our former campers and directors soon. We teach them things a father would teach a son. Who taught you how to dress, shave, tie a tie? If you don’t have a father, you find a substitute father who will stand with you and mentor you. That’s what we do.”
Question from Gncnew: Do you think coach Gus Malzahn is ready to be a head coach at a major school or are there some areas you see he should try to strengthen before accepting any offers?
Gottfried: “I think he’s ready. He was at Tulsa and Arkansas and was a successful high school head coach. I think he’s ready, but you never know if a guy’s ready. I wasn’t ready, but I thought I was – and I learned. They key to being a good head coach is the people you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with team guys who have your best interest at heart, you’ll be fine.”
Question from Gncnew: What kind of school would find coach Malzahn an attractive candidate as head coach?
Gottfried: “A school in the South or Southwest. That’s where he has ties. Depending on what opens, if Auburn keeps winning, he could get an SEC, ACC or Mountain West or Big 12 job. But they have to keep winning. The most impressive thing about Auburn last week was a 19-play drive to win the game. That was impressive. He’s getting a reputation with quarterbacks. The only thing that concerns me is that Newton ran 28 times and threw it 21. You are going get hit if you do that. (Andrew) Luck at Stanford is the best QB I’ve seen this year. Newton is next.”
Question from FreeBird1716: Auburn had success in the past and now seems to be headed in the right direction. Besides a little luck, what will it take for Auburn to win the national championship?”
Gottfried: “Just win out. If they win out, they’ll pass everyone and be in the national championship game.”
Question from Simmoag: Will Auburn get shut out of the national championship game again if they win out?
Gottfried: “If an SEC team goes undefeated, they’re in due to the toughness of the league.”
Question from auman365: With all the games this weekend, some questions were answered, but more questions appeared. South Carolina beat Alabama, but Auburn beat South Carolina. LSU beat Florida and Alabama beat Florida. Florida beat Kentucky, but Auburn barely got by Kentucky. This all seems like a bit of a round-robin situation where no team has a dominant presence in the SEC, East or West. What do you feel like was the most important thing you saw this last weekend from all the high-powered matchups and do you feel like there is even national champion in the SEC this year?
Gottfried: South Carolina is alive, Auburn, LSU and Alabama are alive. They all have to win out to get to the championship game.
Question from Gncnew: Why do you think Cam is still being left out of so many Heisman discussions at this point in the season?
Gottfried: “Maybe because it’s his first year playing and nobody had him on the radar. I think last week, he jumped in there. He’s going to have so many chances with the remaining games on the schedule, he will have a chance. He may win the thing.”
Question from Herman: How does Cam Newton compare to Auburn's other two Heisman winners? Does he have the stuff?
Gottfried: “They’re all different. If Auburn wins out – or even loses a game -- he’s got a shot. They should wait until after the national championship game to vote on the award. Usually the best player on the best team wins the Heisman.”
Question from Lamnertj: The seniors on the Auburn team have been through the gauntlet over the past three years. Their leadership and flexibility to learn new offenses and defenses seems to be what is creating a cohesive team that has overcome a lot of adversity and is beginning to play like a champion. Do you think their faith and togetherness as a family can pull them through this season and carry over into the future?
Gottfried: “Absolutely. It’s all about team. The best players don’t win. The best team wins.”
Question from Whitem12003: In 2004, an undefeated Auburn team was left out of the BCS National Championship picture. Since then, two one- or two-loss SEC teams have not only gotten into the BCS Championship Game, but have won it. How much of an impact do you think Auburn's being snubbed in 2004 had on both LSU and Florida making it to the BCS National Championship game with one or two losses?
Gottfried: “It helped Florida and LSU. No question. If you make it through the SEC schedule with one loss, you’re still better than a Big Ten team or a Big East team or an ACC team. Auburn has better victories right now than Oregon and Ohio State, who are ranked in the top two. Schedule alone would vault an SEC team over those teams.”
Question from aubtigerfan21: What team currently has the best chance to go undefeated – not including the non-BCS schools (TCU, Boise, etc..)?
Gottfried: “Oklahoma. When I look at their schedule, they beat FSU and Texas. Ohio State would be next. They have two tough road games, but everything else is cakewalk. They don’t play Michigan State.”
Question from AUduckhunter; “Many are saying the SEC is "down" this year. However five teams are ranked. I would pit the 6th SEC team against the 6th team in any other conference. Do you believe the SEC is "down," and if so which conference is better this year?
Gottfried: “The East is down. Tennessee, awful. Georgia is awful. Florida is awful. How many years can you say that about all of those teams? The West is strong. There’s not much margin for error in the West. Florida is young. Georgia hasn’t clicked. Tennessee is not a typical Tennessee team. That’s why the door is open for South Carolina. But they need to be careful. Kentucky could beat them this weekend.”
Question from Funky98: In recent decades coaches seem to have stepped up security measures regarding game planning, including closing practices, covering their mouths during game time communications and using decoy signals. How much espionage do you think is involved in major college football? What types of scouting/spying activities have you witnessed, and what is legal and illegal by NCAA rules? What measures are taken to ensure the security of communications lines between the coaches in the press box and on the field?
Gottfried: “In the old days, opposing teams would send someone to town to watch practices. That’s why coaches started closing practices. The other thing is keeping agents out. Agents love to come to practice and get close to players and people inside the program to find out as much as they can. Stealing signals is always going on. Coaches have been stealing signals for years and they still are. It’s smart to close practice. Keep everybody out except those people you trust that have been around the program for a long time.”