Marshall: Malzahn making waves

As a reporter, I never cared much for Southeastern Conference Media Days. It’s the sports journalism equivalent of an all-you-can-eat food bar or one of those holiday hot-dog eating contests.

Malzahn has instilled confidence in AU's program.

After a while, you get so stuffed with cheap rhetoric from coaches and players that you want to lie down and take a nap, anything to get away from it all.

The latest version, though, provided some actual insight for Auburn faithful. Let’s start with some much-needed bravado.

Gus Malzahn’s defense of his hurry-up, no-huddle offense was a refreshing departure from Gene Chizik’s robotic-like responses. Foremost among Malzahn’s statements was his response to Nick Saban’s and Bret Bielema’s belief that such an offensive style puts players’ safety at risk.

“When I first heard that, I thought it was a joke,’’ he said.

This is no joke: Malzahn will be unlike any head football coach Auburn has ever had.

I don’t know of another head football coach in Auburn history who has offered the promise of a truly wide-open offense, the kind fans hunger for.

Auburn has had only one offensive-minded coach in modern history - Terry Bowden - but his offensive coordinator for most of those, Tommy Bowden, had a more profound influence on Auburn’s offense.

Malzahn’s offense, uniquely his own, will be far more daring. It will likely be football without the restrictor plates.

But here’s another reason for encouragement: If Saban and Bielema are already complaining about it, then there’s a high probability that their concerns have much more to do with putting their defenses at a competitive disadvantage than safety.

Give Malzahn time to get the right players in his system and he’ll likely give Auburn an offensive brand of football it has been unaccustomed to.

He’ll give more than a hint of it this season. That’s what fullback Jay Prosch alluded to during some of his opening comments at Media Days.

“We’re getting our edge back,’’ he said.

That’s significant because it indicates that there’s some much-needed healing after last season’s disaster.

But perhaps the biggest indication of the team’s attitude was something Prosch said in an article by Phillip Marshall of

“All I can say is get ready,’’ Prosch said, “because Auburn is coming.’’

Auburn is coming? Really? After a 3-9 season?

I’m not sure how many among the media believed it. But it doesn’t really matter.

Prosch believes it.

And I’m inclined to believe him, too.

One way or another, this year or the next, Auburn will be coming.

I’m guessing something will be in jeopardy because of Malzahn’s style of play. But it won’t have anything to do with the safety of opposing players.

It will have more to do with the comfort level of the coaches he faces.

From the sound of things, Malzahn might have already accomplished that.

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