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Phillip's blog: The Gus watch continues

Late Sunday night, word spread that Gus Malzahn had decided to turn down Vanderbilt and remain as Auburn’s offensive coordinator.

Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor,

Earlier Sunday, word spread that Malzahn had accepted the Vanderbilt job.

Now, here we are on Monday morning, and we still can’t say definitively what the situation is. Some people close to Malzahn expect him to turn the job down and remain at Auburn. However, no one to whom we have talked has told us he has, in fact, turned it down. We have tried to go directly to the source, but Malzahn, not surprisingly, is not answering his cell phone.

So, still we wait.

Why would Malzahn leave a job where he has everything he needs to win to go to a school that most believe can’t ever win on a consistent basis in the SEC?

The first and most obvious reason is money. We are told by people in position to know that Malzahn has been offered a five-year contract worth $15 million, guaranteed. That’s enough money to secure your family’s future and you children’s families futures. That would turn anyone’s head.

But there are few jobs in college football at which winning is more difficult than at Vanderbilt, and it’s really not about academic standards.

Vanderbilt, with facilities that were bad 30 years ago and haven’t improved, must compete in the toughest league in America. It has a small fan base and no real history of success. Though the university itself is awash in money, it is unlikely there will ever be a commitment to winning there like there is at other SEC schools.

As a person very familiar with the Vanderbilt program told me: “Whatever they are promising him, he’d better get it in writing. They make promises to every coach they hire.”

There are other good reasons for patience.

Auburn is prepared to make Malzahn the highest paid assistant coach in the country other than, perhaps, Monte Kiffin at USC. If his offenses continue to pump out points – and there’s no reason to expect otherwise – far more attractive opportunities than Vanderbilt are likely to come in the future.

Malzahn and his family very much like living in Auburn. There is no assistant coach in the country with more job security.

The question that Malzahn must answer is whether the money makes it worth it to take, by far, the worst head coaching job in the SEC.

We should know soon.

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