On the eve of Auburn's biggest football game since a national championship victory over Oregon three years ago, the Tigers sent a message to athletic directors all over the country who may be looking for a new coach: Don't knock on this door.
Auburn locked up first-year head coach Gus Malzahn with a six-year contract extension worth $3.85 million in the first year, with increases that will make the Tigers' offensive mastermind a $4-million coach by 2015 and a $5-million coach by 2019.
"As I've said before, we want Coach Malzahn to be at Auburn for a long time," Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said, according to al.com. "The new contract includes a raise and extension and is our statement that Auburn is committed to Coach Malzahn for the long haul. While this season has been remarkable, I'm equally excited about the future of our program under his leadership. The future of Auburn football is very bright."
Perhaps more importantly for the Tigers, Malzahn's name won't be part of the gossip that can hamper recruiting efforts at this time of year as programs begin to seek a new coach. The domino-falling began earlier this week with hiring of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian for the Southern Cal job.
"A lot of programs would love to have Coach Malzahn, so this is a good move that allows him to continue taking Auburn football where our fans want it," Auburn president Jay Gogue said.
Malzahn will coach for an SEC title against Missouri in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Saturday night, and if Ohio State is upset by Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, an Auburn win could put Malzahn's Tigers in the last BCS National Championship Game ever played. A college football playoff debuts next year.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread