1. Hugh Freeze, Head coach:
Anytime you let a coach like Gus Malzahn go, you must plan to get a coach either as good or better. Auburn did not do that initially. The Tigers were in disarray as to who would succeed Malzahn, and –as a result– former Athletic Director Allen Greene went out and hired former Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin.
Harsin’s tenure with Auburn football was a mess is an understatement. Harsin was never fully embraced by the powers on The Plains and was not fit for SEC football. Harsin was not a relentless recruiter, and the Tigers continued to lose ground in the Atlanta metro area — one of the reasons given for Malzahn’s demise.
Enter Hugh Freeze. The former Liberty head coach had been looking for an opportunity to get back into the SEC since Mississippi fired him for several improprieties. After building Liberty into a perennial winner, Auburn came calling, ushering in a return to the SEC. Freeze will recruit better than Harsin and design an offense to put points on the board.
Freeze did well against Nick Saban and Alabama at Mississippi, going 3-2. What’s most remarkable about the record is that Freeze beat Saban in back-to-back seasons.