Auburn coach Gus Malzahn didn't waste much time finding a replacement for offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, who accepted the same position at Florida State on Monday. Less than a day later, Malzahn tapped his old friend Chad Morris as the new coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Tigers.
"He’s a tremendous offensive mind who has had success with several top-ranked offenses during his time in the college ranks," said Malzahn. "I’ve known Chad for almost 20 years and he is a tireless worker and a perfectionist."
Morris was ripe for the picking after getting fired before season's end as head coach at Arkansas, where he put together two of the worst seasons in Razorbacks' history, finishing 2-10 both years.
Morris' track record at Arkansas shouldn't be of much concern to Malzahn or Auburn fans, though. He was slowly turning around an SMU team during his three years as head coach there, molding a 2-10 team his first year into a bowl-eligible 7-5 Mustang team his final season.
And while his 18-40 record as a head coach is about as bad as it comes, his experience as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach is the opposite.
He's well-versed in the offensive scheme of Malzahn, who served as a mentor to Morris and taught him the ropes of the hurry-up, no huddle system.
Morris adapted that system into record-breaking offenses at Clemson from 2011-14, where he served as offensive coordinator and molded Tajh Boyd into one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Boyd threw for more than 3,800 yards in each of this three seasons under Morris.
That should excite Auburn fans who watched freshman quarterback Bo Nix struggle with inconsistency this season, especially against ranked opponents. Morris and Nix will have the opportunity to get well-acquainted with each other during the Tigers' bowl practices for the New Year's Day matchup against Minnesota in the Outback Bowl.
While many Auburn fans were pining for a matchup in a New Year's Six bowl or in the Citrus Bowl against traditional power Michigan, they should still be pleased the Tigers drew Golden Gophers. This will be the first meeting between the No. 12 Tigers and No. 18 Golden Gophers, a Big Ten team coming into the game sporting its first 10-win season since 1905. Minnesota should be plenty motivated, which will likely give the Tigers a tougher test than they might otherwise have faced.
It would be surprising if Morris is tasked with play-calling duties, at least for the bowl game, but he will get to work extensively with Nix and maybe add some new wrinkles to the offense during game-planning.
Morris also brings the added benefit of being a solid pitch man on the recruiting trail. He was largely responsible for pulling Deshaun Watson and Shaq Lawson to Clemson before he left to take a head-coach job at SMU. Auburn will likely use its remaining slots in the recruiting class to attract players in the trenches and on defense, so Morris' impact on recruiting likely wouldn't come until next year.
Another big benefit Morris brings is stability — with his close relationship to Malzahn and horrendous tenure as a head coach at Arkansas, he will probably be around on The Plains for multiple years.
We'll hear more in the coming days and weeks about how Morris will hit in with Malzahn's plans for the bowl game and beyond. For the time being, Auburn fans should feel good about the potential of this hire.