It's been a time like no other in Gus Malzahn's life. Named Auburn's head football coach on Dec. 4, Malzahn hit the recruiting road the next day. And he hasn't slowed down since.
In those 50 days, Malzahn has hired a staff of proven winners. He's been in schools and homes from Kansas to Georgia to Florida to Alabama and beyond. Saturday night, he was greeted by roaring fans at halftime of Auburn's basketball game against Kentucky.
This morning, Malzahn was at Senior Bowl practice in Mobile. Running back Onterio McCalebb and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn's two players who were invited, won't be able to play because of injuries, but Malzahn was there to offer his support and to visit with other college and professional coaches. He chatted with Chip Kelly, the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach. Kelly and Malzahn were, of course, on opposite sidelines when Auburn beat Oregon 22-19 to win the 2010 BCS national championship.
From there, it will be back to the recruiting trail, where he and his staff are fighting for some of the nation's top prospects.
Back at home, Auburn players are going through winter workouts. Many have made it clear that things are very different now than they were a year ago as Gene Chizik headed toward his final season.
Malzahn famously doesn't sleep much, but when he closes his eyes at night he must marvel at what has happened in his life. Since he left Springdale High School to become Arkansas' offensive coordinator for the 2006 season, he has been a shooting star. He has a national championship ring. His offensive scheme, once dismissed by some as fit only for high schools, has made its way into the NFL. And now he finds himself in the game's fastest lane as Auburn's head coach.
"It's a new day," Malzahn declared the night was introduced. "My goal is to get Auburn back to a championship level. Two years ago we won a championship. The expectation at Auburn is to win championships. We are going to do everything in our power to get that done."
With that in mind, he went to work.
On a sunny morning in Mobile, this week's center of the football universe, Malzahn was no longer the former high school coach with the new-fangled offense. He was the head coach at Auburn University, a man with high goals and determination to reach them.
Yes, it's been quite a ride. And it's just getting started.
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