'This one hurts': Auburn football players aren’t mincing words about Gus Malzahn's firing

Josh Vitale
Montgomery Advertiser

AUBURN — When the music began to blare inside the visitor's locker room at Davis-Wade Stadium late Saturday night, and players began to celebrate Auburn's season-ending, 24-10 win over Mississippi State, Gus Malzahn was right in the middle – visor turned backwards, dancing and dropping to the floor, smiles all around.

Many on social media made jokes about it, asking why he would bother celebrating a win over a 2-7 team to end a 6-4 season. Cornerback Traivon Leonard, who opted out of playing this season due to concerns regarding COVID-19, answered that question on Twitter.

"Winning the last game of the season is pretty exciting for everyone in the locker room," he wrote. "It's for the seniors and everyone who's leaving. It's not a surprise to see coach dancing with us."

Malzahn was fired as Auburn's coach Sunday after eight seasons (all of them winning), two SEC West crowns, one conference title and one trip to the BCS National Championship game. Many in the fan base were happy to see him go.

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Many current and former Auburn players, though, expressed shock, pain or even anger toward the decision. For all of his faults as a head coach, one thing about Malzahn was always abundantly clear – he cared deeply about his players, and his players always played hard for him.

Here were some of their reactions Sunday:

Quarterback Bo Nix

Linebacker K.J. Britt

Former offensive lineman Mike Horton

Safety Smoke Monday

Center Nick Brahms

Former running back Kam Martin

Offensive lineman Kameron Stutts

Former linebacker Deshaun Davis

Former defensive end Marlon Davidson

Former offensive lineman Marquel Harrell

Defensive end Derick Hall

Former linebacker Tre' Williams

Wide receiver Anthony Schwartz

Josh Vitale is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoshVitale. To reach him by email, click here.