News of the day, 1/5
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the most popular assistant I've covered, has left for the same job at Texas. He'll make less money at Texas. He can't have more coaching autonomy than he had at Auburn. So what happened?
It's something Auburn people will wonder for a while ... until a new defensive coordinator comes along with swell credentials and a commitment to keep the Tigers' defense highly aggressive. Auburn's defense was excellent before Muschamp arrived, was excellent with him here and has a chance to be excellent after his abrupt departure.
I've read a lot of theories. Here are a few:
**Salary. No way. Period. He was going to make $425,000 next season, which is a massive payday for an assistant coach ... particularly one with no head-coaching experience. He knew that. He was totally fine with the financial package Auburn offered.
**Upset with Tony Franklin's spread offense: No way. Period. Muschamp felt strongly that Franklin's ideas were not detrimental to his defense from an overall perspective. Franklin's system, if anything, keeps the offense on the field longer than before. Troy averaged 82 plays per game last season. Auburn ran 90 in the bowl game.
**Upset with Tuberville: I don't think so. Muschamp valued the autonomy Tuberville afforded Muschamp. He was free to run basically anything he wanted and his recruiting opinions carried a lot of weight. Muschamp was happy with that.
**Upset with other elements of the athletic department: That's the most reasonable conclusion. Muschamp is big on being accountable to the people below him in the organizational chain. When kids came to Muschamp for guidance or to make suggestions about their roles on the team, he took each case seriously. He met with players regularly and was surprisingly candid with them about their weaknesses. They appreciated that honesty. Muschamp viewed that as accountability.
Auburn athletics doesn't always operate that way. Suggestions fall on deaf ears at times, though it's impossible to get a true read on how often that happens. Some coaches can brush that stuff aside without a second thought. Some coaches can't. For some coaches, true disgust only comes after serial administrative failures. Others have a much lower threshold.
Muschamp is in the latter group.
Was he mistreated at Auburn? Absolutely not. He liked Auburn. The feeling was mutual. The UT athletics department is a place noted for its massive budget and the sense that everyone is working toward the same goal.
My guess is he found that engaging, novel and worthwhile.
Here is my story from today's editions of the Advertiser:
Auburn coach Muschamp goes to Texas