In a move that brings one of the most intriguing free agent sagas of recent memory - or at least the 2014-15 hiring season - Will Muschamp will become the next defensive coordinator at Auburn. Phillip Marshall also reports that Travaris Robinson is expected to join Muschamp. Robinson coached the defensive backs and served as a key recruiter at Florida.
AL.com reports that Muschamp will become the highest paid defensive coordinator in college football making over $1.5 million per year.
Outside of landing the most widely-respected defensive minds on the market, Auburn wins the satisfaction of beating out reported interest for the same position at Texas A&M and South Carolina, plus an interview for a head coaching position at Houston.
“I’m excited to welcome Will back to Auburn as our new defensive coordinator,” Gus Malzahn said in a statement. “Will is a one of the top defensive minds in college football who has great passion and energy for the game. He is a tremendous addition to our staff.”
As far as actual on-the-field ramifications, there are several. Outside of an injury-ravaged 2013 season at Florida, Muschamp's defenses have ranked first, ninth, eighth, fourth, and fifth nationally in yards per play allowed since 2009. The hope for Gus Malzahn is that pairing his hurry-up, ground-based offense (eighth and 12th in yards per play the last two seasons) with Muschamp's bona fides on defense will retool Auburn after following up last season's SEC title and national championship appearance with a fourth-place finish in the ultra-competitive SEC West this fall.
There is recent precedent for a powerhouse program hiring a high-profile free agent coordinator fresh off a dismissal at a blue-blood program, and it stood on the opposite sideline - raising its arms in celebration - during Auburn's most recent game. A year ago, Nick Saban hired Lane Kiffin to run Alabama's offense after a disappointing end to the 2013 season and he delivered in spades, aiding the Crimson Tide to an SEC title and a No. 1 seed in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
In the yin-yang world that is life inside the Iron Bowl rivalry, those will be the expectations for Muschamp, wildly unrealistic as they are.
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