Bruce Pearl: Gus Malzahn has ‘a lot to be proud of’ – ‘Tough day here on campus’
In a remote press conference on Monday, Auburn University men’s basketball head coach Bruce Pearl reacted to the news since the day before, the contract of head football coach Gus Malzahn has been terminated by the university.
Malzahn had led the Tigers football program since 2013, and Pearl joined him on The Plains in 2014.
“Yesterday was a tough day here on campus,” Pearl acknowledged. “As a former ball coach, you hate to see another former ball coach leave the program.”
He then nodded to Malzahn’s wife, Kristi, whose Facebook post On Sunday, reacting graciously to the news of the day went viral.
“I have so much respect for Gus and Kristi, this coaching staff and this family,” Pearl said. “I learned so much from them. I absolutely took their lead.
“Gus has been the leader of our coaches. People don’t give him enough credit for the way he led our coaching staff in so many ways. He is a very dear friend. I feel lucky to be his friend,” the basketball coach continued.
Pearl said Coach Malzahn “understands the job as well as anyone.”
“No one had higher expectations for Auburn football than Gus Malzahn,” he noted. “No one. Even our most passionate fans. Gus expected to win championships, to compete for national championships, and he held himself to that standard. … He understood that he wished he could have won a little more .
Pearl pointed to some positive aspects of the Malzahn era, which ended with a 68-35 record in eight seasons.
“I think he has a lot to be proud of with what they’ve achieved. I always admired the way he always had his dressing room. These children loved him. They played for him,” Pearl explained. “They’ve always had great coaches, great chemistry and great culture.”
“I want to wish him the best,” he added. “One of the greatest things about being here at Auburn is being around the amazing people that I’m around. I’ve been around coaches like Butch Thompson, I’ve been around coach Pat Dye and I’ve had lucky to earn his respect, Coach Malzahn – we have the greatest football coaches, the greatest baseball coaches, the greatest golf coaches, etc. so lucky, and I’m so lucky to be a member of this coaching staff.
He was then asked about his favorite memory of Malzahn’s riding tenure at Auburn.
“Timely text messages,” Pearl replied. “Texting when only another coach would know when you need to hear that.”
He also shared, “Gus came over and talked to my team my freshman year. My freshman year was like college and JV. I send my guys over there and they’re just outnumbered. He came in my locker room before we went to the SEC tournament, and he told our guys how much he loved watching them play and compete knowing they were outnumbered After that conversation, we went to Nashville and we won three games. I think his speech had a lot to do with it – just to earn his respect.
“Now we had conversation events on the golf course that were a lot of fun. More than anything, just for earning his respect and becoming a friend,” Pearl concluded.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn