The year 2010 seems like a distant memory for Auburn fans everywhere. The Auburn Tigers won their first national title in 2010 since 1957 and seemed to be on the road to success for years to come.
The Tigers had made major improvements in recruiting and were gaining momentum following their historic run in 2010 ending it with a national championship victory over Oregon 22-19 in Glendale, Arizona.
The Tigers were criticized and laughed at for the hiring of Gene Chizik, but with a magical season with Cam Newton the Tigers were the ones laughing at their critics.
Those days are long gone and now the Guz Malzahn era begins in Auburn, Alabama, and the expectations are still just as high as before.
Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for the 2010 Auburn National Championship and seemed to work magic with his offense led by Newton. Newton put up historical numbers in the SEC which led to him winning the Heisman Trophy.
This great production was a combination of pure athleticism, speed, power and the offensive system that Malzahn had Newton in control of in 2010. Malzahn will be expected to recapture that magic from three seasons ago and turn Auburn back in a national power once again. It will be a challenge that might take several seasons to accomplish, but Auburn believes they have the right guy to do so.
Malzahn accepeted the head-coaching position in 2012 to coach the Arkansas State Redwolves and took them all the way to the top winning the Sun Belt conference championship last season. After this turn around for the Redwolves by Malzahn and the Tigers were struggling to a 3-9 season it was becoming evident that Malzahn may have been the key to the success for Auburn over the past couple of seasons. This prompted the Tigers to fire Chizik and his coaching staff and go out and hire Malzahn to become the head coach for Auburn.
The Tigers will go back to a more spread option attack with more offensive balance and a faster tempo as well. Malzahn will have to go out and recruit more players to fit his style of play and the success he had with Newton and even in the Sun Belt conference his recruiting pitch should be a more effective one than what Chizik had to present to recruits. Malzahn will not have many weapons to work with in 2013, but the future with Malzahn should be a bright one with better results over time.
Auburn has always been the little brother to Alabama and it appears as long as Nick Saban is the coach of the Crimson Tide that pattern will stay in place. The Tigers of Auburn have shown that with the right chemistry, players and coaches they can be a threat to Alabama and a national title contender.
This will be the job of Malzahn and the incoming players over the next couple of seasons. I don't want to make it seem like this 2013 season is going to be a waste and nothing positive can come out of it, but projecting ahead towards a national title contender Auburn is still a work in progress.
The Tigers in 2013 have a tough schedule as they have to face LSU and Texas A&M on the road. These two games will most likely be losses, but if Auburn can show signs of competitiveness against top teams like this in 2013 the road back to an elite program will be well on its way.
The Tigers also have home games against Georgia, Mississippi State and Washington State. These three games will be an indicator of how this 2013 season plays out and whether or not they will be a contender to go back to a bowl game.
I feel they will make a bowl game in 2013 and win at least two of the these three games. The Iron Bowl will be held on Auburn's home field this year, but a win over Alabama this season would be one of the shocks of the decade and would complete the 2013 Auburn season in itself.
The future seems to be bright for Auburn now that they have Malzahn back in the program and in charge of things. This 2013 season will be a challenge and a 7-5 or 8-4 season would be a success and a step in the right direction.
I believe Auburn will make a bowl and put them on the path to success in the 2014 and 2015 season along with some good recruiting by Malzahn. The Tigers have shown they can accomplish some amazing things with the right ingredients, but for now they will have to look up at big brother competing for a third straight national title.