Kirby Smart and Gus Malzahn are at two very different places in their coaching careers. Smart is a rising, if not already, star and the coach of the No. 1 team in the country. Malzahn has Auburn at the No. 10 spot, but also has faced loads of criticism in recent seasons.
But there was a time when Smart could’ve been Auburn’s coach, as weird as that sounds to Auburn, Georgia and Alabama fans. According to Kevin Scarbinsky of Al.com, Smart did interview for the Auburn job back in 2012, which ultimately went to Malzahn.
Scarbinsky also detailed some of the reasons Auburn didn’t end up hiring Smart. First, Smart wanted total control over the hiring of his football staff, something Auburn wasn’t willing to sign off on. Another intersting nugget was that if Auburn hired Smart, he was going to bring Mike Bobo, then Georgia’s offensive coordinator and the now-coach at Colorado State, on as his offensive coordinator. Auburn reportedly had concerns about his play calling ability(it’s worth mentioning that Georgia averaged 32.0 points per game in 2011 and 37.8 in 2012).
And there was the concern that if Georgia ever parted ways with Mark Richt, Smart would leave Auburn for that job. Smart ended up doing just that, as he left his position as defensive coordinator at Alabama to take over for Richt after the 2015 season.
Auburn did end up winning an SEC championship with Malzahn and Malzahn also had strong ties to the school already, as he was the offensive coordinator on the 2010 national championship team. But it is a fascinating what-if to imagine how different things would be had Auburn hired Alabama’s defensive coordinator back in 2012.
Malzahn and Smart face-off this weekend as Auburn hosts Georgia. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 3:30 pm ET and the game will be broadcast by CBS.