AUBURN — Where does Auburn go from here?
Gus Malzahn fielded that question from a reporter after Saturday's 21-14 loss to Georgia, and the AU coach gave some answer about moving forward. Sorry, I started tuning it out about halfway through because it sounded like every other answer he gives.
Maybe the Tigers will move forward, but I imagine a sizable portion of the Auburn fan base would be fine with Malzahn moving out the door and to another school. They'd pay for the moving company … and maybe the more well-heeled supporters could pony up his $27 million buyout, too.
Who can blame them?
We can talk all weekend about how close Auburn was to knocking off fourth-ranked Georgia on Saturday, but the crux of the matter is that Malzahn is hoping you'll be satisfied the Tigers came reasonably close.
Malzahn has firmly established the Tigers as a middle-of-the-pack Southeastern Conference team. From 2014 to now, Auburn is 3-14 combined against Alabama, Georgia and LSU.
That's the statistic that matters at this point — not all the times Auburn came close.
We can talk about that pass reception that was ruled incomplete late. Facing third-and-10 at the Tigers' 27 with less than two minutes to go, Bo Nix appeared to complete a throw to Seth Williams on the sideline. The officials said it wasn't a catch. The replay official agreed.
They were wrong, but so what? Auburn still had to drive the rest of the field, score a touchdown and win the game in overtime.
Worry less about that one bad call and more about how Malzahn allowed his team to get in that situation in the first place.
Georgia has a good team, granted, but the Bulldogs' stout defense allowed Auburn to hold the ball for 86 plays. That's the most since Kirby Smart became Georgia's coach.
The Bulldogs' offense collapsed in the fourth quarter. In their last three drives, they failed to make a first down.
Count visiting Georgia as vulnerable Saturday. Even so, Auburn needed an incredible comeback just to make the final score look good.
Auburn comes close a lot. The Tigers have done that a lot under Malzahn. They even came close to a national championship — we hear all about those 13 seconds from 2013 as if we should credit Malzahn with a crown anyway.
But they've come close to disaster, too. Count the wins that Auburn nearly didn't get in recent years. This year alone, they easily could've lost to Oregon, Texas A&M and Ole Miss, and then the record really would look miserable.
Don't put your team in a position where one play can totally ruin your day, such as that one errant throw (Nix's bad throw to Harold Joiner on fourth down with less than three minutes to go Saturday) or that one bad call (the Nix-Williams incompletion).
I'm not usually a fan of getting rid of a coach who hasn't produced as much as the home fans like, but if Auburn supporters want to dump Malzahn, I've got nothing — no reason at all why they should change their minds.