The coaching tree that produced Gus Malzahn is so unlike the ones that typically yield the famous figureheads of southern college football. For Auburn’s man comes from pulpwood, not walnut.
He comes from a place where his game films were shot on a neighbor’s borrowed video camera. And to get any kind of footage on an opponent often required he drive sometimes for hours, scouring the bottomland of northeast Arkansas for someone with a tape he could dissect.
The first head coaching job for the man about to play for the SEC championship — a coach of the year for any award-giving group worth its bronze — was at an Arkansas high school that was small two decades ago and is so much smaller now that it dropped football.