There's very likely going to be a few SEC job openings this fall.... https://theathletic.com/100341/2017/09/13/stewart-mandel-mailbag-auburn-gus-malzahn/ Mandel’s Mailbag: Can Auburn’s Gus Malzahn still save himself? I don’t know why it is, but there’s some strange force at work that ensures every Auburn football coach, no matter how successful at his peak, inevitably wears out his welcome. Tommy Tuberville went from 13-0 in 2004 to out of a job four years later. Gene Chizik went from a national championship in 2010 to out of a job just two years later. And Gus Malzahn went from a national title game in 2013 to … this. Since Nick Marshall’s tenure ended, Auburn has trotted out three highly rated QBs (Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and Jarrett Stidham) with minimal (and highly frustrating) success. This year is even more frustrating, as Auburn returned an above-average offensive line and a quarterback who was supposed to help the Tigers break through. Once again, the offense looked completely clueless against Clemson. Isn’t it about time to admit that the Gus Malzahn era should be mercifully put to an end? — Aaron, Orlando, Fla. I understand Auburn fans’ frustration. It feels like they’re stuck in a Groundhog Day cycle. After eight months of hype built in large part around a quarterback, the Tigers go out and stink it up on offense. And now a notoriously impatient fan base is ready to throw in the towel on Gus two games into the season. No question that was a miserable performance the other night, but may I just remind you of two things. 1) Clemson won a national championship last season. 2) With all due respect to LSU and Georgia, that will likely be the best defense Auburn faces until the Iron Bowl. Neither of those facts excuse allowing 11 sacks or gaining just 117 yards, nor do I think that performance was indicative of how Auburn will look going forward. The Tigers will play better. The question is, how much better? I’m frankly not that worried about Stidham, and you know you can count on Kamryn Pettway. But Auburn’s offense is facing two pressing issues. One is the fact that offensive line may not be “above average” after all. Tackles Prince Tega Wanogho and Darius James have struggled in both games. At the very least, Malzahn needs to reconsider his starting five. But the bigger question is off the field. This season is the first time in Malzahn’s head coaching career that he doesn’t have one of protégé Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator. Lashlee left for Connecticut after last season, purportedly to get out of the shadow of a mentor who by all accounts was still his own de facto OC. Malzahn brought in Chip Lindsey, formerly of Southern Miss and Arizona State, and pledged to give him autonomy. Fans who watched the play-calling in the Clemson game closely are skeptical that’s the case. On Monday, Malzahn announced Lindsey would be moving from the sideline to the press box because “it’s where he’s comfortable.” It may be that Malzahn is down to his last days, but firing him two games into the season is not going to solve anything. There’s no natural interim coach on that staff like Ed Orgeron was at LSU. That offense has a chance to work out its kinks the next couple of weeks against Mercer and defensive train wreck Missouri. We’ll see if this offense progresses as the year goes on like the 2013 team’s did. If not, then everybody can move on to the next Auburn coach that wins big for a season, then gets run off three years later. As a Clemson homer it pains me to ask, but … could South Carolina actually be good? — Wes Smith, Rock Hill, S.C. It sure looks that way. The Gamecocks have at least two foundations of a pretty good team. First and foremost, they have a quarterback. Jake Bentley is not putting up overwhelming numbers (he ranks 56th nationally in pass efficiency), but he’s consistent, and he does a nice job leading that offense. And Deebo Samuel is a flat-out big-time playmaker. The guy returned kickoffs for touchdowns in back-to-back games. A lot of teams don’t return one all season. He’s scored more TDs so far (five) than 24 FBS teams. The strange but true reality of South Carolina football in 2017 is that a Will Muschamp-coached team is more proficient on offense than defense. It remains to be seen how he Gamecocks’ secondary will fare against the better quarterbacks it faces the rest of the way. True freshman cornerback Jamyest Williams played every snap against Missouri and looked good. That would be a huge boost if he emerges as standout. Georgia remains my pick to win the SEC East simply because it’s the most talented and, theoretically, most complete team in that division. But starting true freshman QB Jake Fromm certainly makes me nervous. That’s one position where South Carolina has an advantage right now. But those two don’t play until Nov. 4, far later than years past, and the game is in Athens. I could see the Gamecocks going into that game 7-1. Who woulda thunk?