The following is a transcript of the press conference introducing Gus Malzahn as Auburn's head football coach on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012.
Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs
"I want to thank all of you for being here. Here is the order of events today. I am going to introduce Dr. Gogue here in a few moments and then Pat Sullivan from the search committee will have a few remarks, Bill Stone, the president of the Auburn University Alumni Association will have a few words and then I will come back up and introduce Coach Malzahn. He will have an opening statement or two and then we will take questions. I will then come up and answer some questions, so thank you all for being here. It is a great day for Auburn. Please welcome our president, Dr. Jay Gogue.
Auburn University President Dr. Jay Gogue
"Thank you, Jay, I am glad to be with you. I certainly want to echo his words of appreciation for each of you being here today. Coach (Malzahn), we are delighted to have you back at Auburn. We appreciate you. I have to tell you this search committee is a tough group. Coach, I want you to know, that not only did they recommend you unanimously, but with great enthusiasm. I really appreciate their good work, and I certainly appreciate looking forward to having you here.
"I want to make a couple of comments about Bo (Jackson), Pat (Sullivan) and Mac (Crawford). These guys are distinguished graduates of Auburn University. They don't have to be involved with us in any way, but they made the decision to take on this task and be very engaged and do the very best for Auburn. It gives me great, great pride when I think about their careers on the field and off the field and in this time in a job that many people will be critical of. For them to spend the time and spend the energy and the effort to make sure we got the right person for Auburn University. A person that cares about our student-athletes. A person that cares about if they graduate. A person that will make sure we play within the rules of the game. And coach, to make sure we win ball games. I appreciate you being here."
Former Auburn Quarterback Pat Sullivan
"Dr. Gogue, thank you for entrusting us with this important task. Our work was important because of our school's deep and undeniable pride in our football program. This is a real committee and we took our work seriously. Mac, Bo, and Jay, it has been a pleasure to work with men of your character and commitment and I thank you for all that you have done. Our criteria in finding a coach, we wanted to find a coach with high character, a coach with great leadership abilities that can attract a staff that would recruit and develop young men in all areas of their life, spiritually, academically as well as athletically. Coach (‘Shug') Jordan, my coach, had seven D's of success, not only to be successful in football, but in life. His first D was discipline. Any successful person must learn to discipline themself before they can discipline others. Desire to excel, you have to have that burning desire in yourself and on the field. Determination, this is what makes you keep on keeping on. Dedication, a man must be dedicated to achieving his ultimate goal. Dependability, a man is only as good as his word. Desperation, how calmly and efficiently we can perform in desperate situations determines what degree we will succeed. His last one was dammit anyway. When you have done everything you can do and things still seem to be going against you, you have to reach down and find something in your inner self. I am confident that our new football coach exemplifies all these characteristics. Let us all get behind Auburn's new head coach football coach. Welcome home, Gus.
Auburn University Alumni President Bill Stone
"It is an honor to be here tonight. You know all of us Auburn alumni and friends love our Auburn traditions. We are proud of the Auburn family and love our Auburn football. One of the great Auburn traditions is to welcome the family home and to make them feel like it is home. That is real easy tonight, because it is more like a family reunion. We want to welcome Gus home along with Kristi and now your young ladies with you. Welcome home, we are proud to have you back. As we start this new chapter in Auburn history, it gives me great pride and I am excited to be one of the first to say ‘Coach, War Eagle!'"
Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs
"It is my honor and privilege to introduce (our) 26th head (football) coach. I, too, can't be more proud and to have learned so much from this search committee. These three guys, we had a time together. Not only during the entire process going through it, but the character and integrity that these three men have in their own right, but also the number one goal from the very beginning was to do what was best for Auburn. Every time we sat and talked that is all that mattered. It didn't matter what was going on out there in the world. All that mattered was let's do what is best for Auburn. Our unanimous choice was Gus Malzahn, unanimous choice. Please help me welcome our 26th head football coach, Coach Gus Malzahn."
"I stand up in front of you today and I'm just tickled to death. It's a true honor to be the head coach of the Auburn Tigers. I spent three years here and I can not only say it was the three best years of our life, for my family, for myself, and I feel connected forever being an Auburn man with the Auburn family. I'd like to thank Dr. Gogue for this opportunity and Jay Jacobs, thank you for this opportunity, and the search committee. I want to take a second on the search committee because I've had a chance to interview a lot of different times, and this was a different committee. I was proud to be a former, whether I'd of gotten the job or not, I was proud to be a former Auburn person and watch the way they went about their business, first class. It's an honor that they chose me, and I don't take that lightly. I will do everything in my power for the Auburn Tigers to be successful. Our players are going to be great examples for this university on and off the field. They're going to be men of character. I just got through talking to them, that's the first thing I expect from them. The winning will take care of itself. We will have a fast paced offense. I believe in this day and time it's a great advantage. We will run the football, and that will be our staple, we will run a fast tempo. We will have a defense that attacks. These days with all these spread offenses and the things they do, you've got to have a mobile defense and we will be attacking in all areas. And it will be fun for our fans and we will get this thing turned around. My goal for this is to get this thing turned around and play championship football like Auburn expects."
On the recruits…
"We are going to recruit the best players in America that have the best fit for us on and off the field, and I will get familiar with these guys and we will hit the ground recruiting as soon as this is over with."
On what he told the team in their first meeting…
"First of all I told them it's an honor for me to be back here as head coach. I'm very familiar with a lot of them, as a matter of fact I recruited a lot of them and have a very good relationship. I just told them my expectation is to win championships. Whatever happened last year, happened last year and it's a new day. My expectations are going to be high. Nobody is going to outwork us, and we're going to put a good brand of football on the field and we're going to have fun doing it."
On what he learned at Arkansas State…
"I was a head coach in high school so as far as on the field stuff it's the same, but for college football it's off the field that you've got to get used to. It was a great learning experience for me. I learned a lot and I feel very prepared coming in here."
On assistant coaches…
"I'm going to take my time and I'm going to find the right fit. We are going to hire men of character who will be great examples for our players and then they're going to be great coaches and great recruiters. I'm going to take my time to try to get the best person where ever he is."
On giving current staff members the opportunity to say…
"Well, I'm going to get the best fit for Auburn no matter whether those guys are here, guys who are with me, guys who are other places. And I'm going to take my time and I think that is so important and I'm going to take my time with it."
On the pending NCAA investigation…
"I feel very confident that everything is fine and that's all I need."
On what he'll do upon his start in the position…
"It's going to be recruiting immediately, and to get caught up with everything. Also will be meeting with staff, also will be meeting with players, so there's not going to be time to rest but this is an exciting time and I'm really looking forward to it."
On enjoying being a head coach…
"I enjoy being a head football coach. Like I said earlier, 15 years of being a head football coach (in high school) and I got the chance to be a coordinator for seven. So being a head coach is very natural to me and last year definitely helped me, I thoroughly enjoyed it."
On coaching Arkansas State in their bowl game…
"I need to talk with their administration but I will say this, I am 100 percent committed to Auburn and getting this thing going as soon as possible."
On how it feels to leave Arkansas State after winning the conference championship…
"I am extremely close with my players and anytime you do that it's tough to leave. Arkansas State was very good to me and my family. The players were unbelievable and it was tough to say bye, but at the same time I'm so excited to be here with players, like I said, I'm already familiar with. I'm really looking forward to coaching these guys."
On watching Auburn during its struggling season…
"I got a chance to watch very little. When you're a coach of another team you don't have time to watch other teams on television and all that so I watched very little."
On talking to Gene Chizik and watching his old team struggle…
"I have not gotten a chance to talk to Gene since that but I will. You know from afar I take a lot of pride in Auburn and I was hurting for them."
On job security…
"All I worry about is what I do and moving forward and getting this thing turned around, and getting this thing to a championship level. That's the only thing on my mind and we're going to get it done. You know obviously there's going to be some challenges, but here's the good thing about it, I know those challenges. I'm very familiar with the personnel and we're going to get this thing turned around."
What message would you have for the Auburn Family?
"It's a new day. It's a new day, and my goal is to get Auburn back to a championship level. Like we said, two years ago we won a championship, and the expectations of Auburn are to win championships, so that's my goal, and we are going to do everything in our power to get that done."
How much will you be involved with the defense?
"I think as a head coach you have to have a philosophy, and your offense, your defense and your special teams all have to fit into that philosophy. Like I said, we will be a fast-paced, attacking style offense and defense. This day in time, I believe you have to. So, I will be on top of every area of our team. At the same time, our coaches will be able to coach, but I will be on top of all areas."
Do you have particular names in mind for defensive coordinator and do you have a timetable to name a staff?
"Yes, the coordinators are obviously the priority, and that is the goal that we will go after first, and I do have some people in mind."
What was your response to seeing all of the Auburn fans at the airport when you arrived?
"It was unbelievable. It was an unbelievable experience. The Auburn fans are the best in the country, and it hit me right when our plane landed and we saw how many people were there. It was an unbelievable experience."
How long have you been talking to the committee and when did you make the decision to take the job?
"Things happened pretty quickly. I believe everything has happened probably in the last three days, and it was I believe midafternoon.
Talk about your career.
"First, I've been very blessed. In every spot that I've been in, I've been fortunate enough to have great administration, great coaches around me, great players, and this situation is no different, and I feel very blessed to be where I'm at."
How much of an advantage do you believe it will be in the short term to have some players who have played in your system?
"I think it is a huge advantage from that standpoint, and not only the offensive guys, I'm very familiar with a lot of the defensive guys, either watching them or helping recruit them, so I'm very familiar with this team. So, I think that will go a long way."
Do you have a specific defensive system that you want to run?
"It's got to be multiple. This day in time of just playing one front is extremely tough with all these spread, wide open offenses, and I think you have to be able to do both odd and even, and that's what gives offenses the most trouble."
Can you say who you think will be Auburn's starting quarterback next year?
"No, I have no idea. All positions will be open. I do know that we have some guys that can execute our offense and that are familiar with our offense."
Will you call plays?
"I will be helping with the offense. I can't tell you at this time that I actually will be calling plays, but I will be involved."
Did you go to Ole Miss head coach and former Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze for advice?
"Me and Hugh Freeze go way back. We started college football I guess the same year and we're former high school coaches and so we talked quite a bit and we've bounced things off of each other and we've talked quite a bit to answer your question."
Where do you think the talent level is at Auburn?
"We do have some talent, and we have some deficiencies, and what I've got to do is identify the deficiencies and address those immediately and also the mindset. The mindset and expectations mentally and physically of our players, so we've got some work to do, but I know the areas we need to improve on, and we're going to address those. "
What are your thoughts about playing Arkansas State next season?
"That's pretty ironic how that works. They're going to be a very good team."
Talk about the possibility of pulling double duty while coaching at Auburn and coaching Arkansas State in a bowl game.
"Like I said earlier, we haven't crossed the bridge regarding that other thing, but there won't be a lot of sleep. This is a very fun time of year to be coaching, and I don't need much (sleep)."
On what jumped out at him about Gus…
"When we started this process out, we laid out three criteria. One is who can win, and he has consistently done that everywhere he has been. He won a national championship here as our offensive coordinator. The other one is a person who would continue the high excellence of high athletic and academic success of our football team. Thirdly, a great ambassador for Auburn. He represents great integrity and the same things that wrap the (Auburn) Creed up. That is why it was a unanimous decision for Gus, because he exemplifies those three things and then some."
On how many candidates he interviewed and contract terms…
"Thank you for bringing up the contract terms. The general terms of the contract are $2.3 million per year for a five year contract. We will give you an outline later with the fine details. As far as who else we talked to, out of respect for all the other candidates and the process that went on, we are not going to be naming names or talk specifics about the process. I trust that you understand that."
On if there is a buyout for the contract…
"There are and we will get those (details) to you."
On when he knew Gus was the guy…
"We came to a unanimous conclusion. As we said, we had to talk about a lot of things and a lot of people, but the characteristics that he brought to the table were head and shoulders above everyone else. I'm not sure there was a particular time, but this morning I called Dr. Gogue and informed him of the committee's unanimous decision to hire this proven winner and great ambassador for Auburn. He told me to certainly do so and Gus and I began to talk today on behalf of the committee.
On if the decision will be criticized…
"We have some passionate fans. They love Auburn football. I know this, I know the Auburn family always comes back together and everyone may have their different choices, but when a committee of these three guys and it is unanimous, and Gus represents everything these three men represent, the Auburn family will get back together. They already started too just by the reception Gus had at the airport and in social media. It makes you proud to be an Auburn man. You can have your difference of opinion, but when the decision is made, everyone gets on board."
On if familiarity with Gus was an overriding factor…
"Basically, Bo and myself were the only ones familiar with him. It was a very thorough and objective process. Just those things that we talked about earlier and then some. His character and he can win and how he represents and expects from our student-athletes."
On if it was important to get a coach in quickly…
"Our timeframe was however long it was going to take to get the right guy. It was a thorough process and we got the right guy."
On if Gus may coach Arkansas State in the bowl game…
"We haven't had a chance to talk with their administration. We will talk about that later. The main thing is that Gus has convinced us that Auburn is his number one priority. Having known him, I know he is a man of his word."
On if familiarity with him made it easier during the interview process…
"I was one of four, so it was imperative. Me having known Gus had very little do with it. He came in and through the interview process laid at a plan that was stellar. It was a unanimous choice. It is going to take a little while. We have to be patient. You don't win three ball games and all of a sudden you flip around. He is going to get his players in here and discipline back in the program that he needs the X's and O's and the right people around this team. We are convinced, wholeheartedly, that he is a man that will get you back to a championship level."
On if his job was contingent on the success of this hire…
"First of all, any conversation between Dr. Gogue and I stays between us."
On the scope of the search…
"We cast a wide net. Auburn is a great job and we found that out through the process. We won't talk any names. The only name we will talk about is our 26th head coach in Gus Malzahn."
On the off the field problems being a major factor…
"As we talked about a week and a couple of days ago, all of that is a factor. The wins and losses and all of that comes into play. When Gus came in and laid out his plan to the committee, he touched on everything that we thought was important and then some. It is all important."
On how committed he is to giving Gus resources to hire his assistants…
"We continue to be fully committed to getting the best coaches we can. That is not going to change."