Gus Malzahn coordinated the offense of a national champion. His quarterback that year (Cam Newton) won a Heisman Trophy. Three seasons ago, he came within 13 seconds of winning a national championship as a head coach.
We'll see how much all that built-up Auburn equity matters in 2017. For now, Malzahn's hiring of an offensive coordinator has turned into one of the biggest stories of the young offseason. Mostly because it's Auburn and Malzahn and the SEC and the dynasty down the road. Certain lightning rods are more entertaining that others.
Auburn is a good place to start, then, breaking down a recent curious and confusing run of coordinator hires.
Usually, such coordinator upheaval signals a short leash for the head coach. In other words, the next step after changing the coordinators is changing the head coach.
David Beaty has beaten one FBS team in two seasons at Kansas -- and things couldn't look brighter.
Nebraska got significantly better on defense in 2016 and still changed defensive coordinators.
That's the summary, here's the breakdown:
Chip Lindsey -- Arizona State to Auburn: Anything said here begins with the disclaimer that Auburn begins each day living under the Alabama Umbrella. The equity described above is measured on a daily basis against Nick Saban and four championships in eight years. So, yeah, it tends to get a bit nuts at times on The Plains. Consider Auburn fans rolled Toomer's Corner when Clemson won the national championship this month.
Toomer's Corner is being rolled after Alabama loses the national championship pic.twitter.com/d8mN0r11LZ— Wesley Sinor (@WesleySinor) January 10, 2017
Athletic director Jay Jacobs reportedly wanted a bigger name after offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee left for UConn. (Oklahoma State's Mike Yurcich and former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich both reportedly interviewed.)
Malzahn apparently won the taffy pull, settling on Lindsey, who had been an Auburn analyst in 2013. Since then, the 42-year-old Lindsey coordinated the offenses at Southern Miss and Arizona State. In 2015, Southern Miss became the second FBS team to have a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and two 1,000-yard rushers. Last year's Sun Devil unit was No. 11 in red zone offense.
Lindsey's arrival is much less of a story, than how the hire happened. During 2016, Malzahn gave up play-calling duties to the 33-year-old Lashlee, who had been with Malzahn for all but one year since 2004. With Lashlee in charge, Auburn won six in a row. A depressing loss to Georgia followed.
Sure, there were quarterback injuries and another loss to Alabama. Lashlee eventually left for UConn -- of all places -- leading to speculation that he may have been run off.
The irony for Lindsey/Malzahn is that this similar to how Gus got his start under Houston Nutt at Arkansas in 2006. Nutt was forced to hire an offensive coordinator with Malzahn down the road coaching the legendary "Springdale Five" at Springdale High School.
Malzahn delivered the five prime recruits, but his play-calling freedom was quickly neutered. He stayed a year at Arkansas. Malzahn then became Todd Graham's coordinator at Tulsa. Graham is now entering his sixth year Arizona State -- the same program Lindsey is leaving for Auburn.
Yeah, it's complicated. Summation: Auburn's offense is going to be a lot better next year regardless. Baylor transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham becomes the difference-making quarterback Auburn has needed since Nick Marshall.
Rhett Lashlee -- Auburn to UConn: Why UConn for a young up-and-comer who coordinated the offense for the SEC champions in 2013? Auburn's offensive output declined the last two years. But that's all it was, a slump. Lashlee was good enough to call plays during that six-game winning streak last season.
Now he's out of the Power Five at UConn having taken a reported $250,000 pay cut to $350,000 per season. Strange.
Doug Meacham -- TCU to Kansas: When TCU's former offensive coordinator was asked why he would come to a place like Kansas, Meacham made a little upward signal with his hand. "It's on the rise," he said.
Yeah, well, maybe. It's not surprising Gary Patterson's OC left. His play-calling helped turn TCU's offense around. It's a shock that Meacham left for Kansas.
Meacham's career may be more likely to crater in Lawrence than thrive. Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger has doubled down on Beaty (2-22 in two season), doubling his salary (from $800,000 to $1.6 million).
Bottom line: Meacham is a tremendous get. He and Sonny Cumbie were responsible juicing TCU's offense the past three seasons. The two worked well together with Meacham on the field calling the plays.
Meacham takes that responsibility from Beaty, who had probably overloaded himself as head coach.
Was there a difference of offensive philosophy with Patterson that led to Meacham's departure? We may never know but ... Kansas?
Jedd Fisch -- Michigan to UCLA: There is both pressure on -- and possibilities for -- Jim Harbaugh's former right-hand man at Michigan.
UCLA was horrid offensively after the season-ending injury to QB Josh Rosen. But in what may be the quarterback's final college season, Fisch -- Michigan's passing game coordinator -- has a tremendous opportunity.
Fisch will be Rosen's third coordinator in as many years. Rosen will be Fisch's seventh starting quarterback in the last seven years.
We can only trust the new guy's resume. At only 40, Fisch has worked for Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, Mike Shanahan, Steve Spurrier and Brian Billick.
Kevin Wilson -- Indiana to unemployment to Ohio State: You knew changes were coming in Columbus after that playoff skunk job against Clemson. So for quarterback J.T. Barrett to make some quasi-disparaging remarks about the offensive coaching staff is almost beside the point. For starters, J.T., you have to own that you were part of the problem.
Still, those offensive staff changes were inevitable. Wilson, the former Indiana coach, replaced Ed Warriner as OC. Tim Day of the 49ers replaced Tim Beck as quarterbacks coach. We'll trust the process. Wilson was beginning to turn around Indiana before his resignation amid reports of player mistreatment. At Oklahoma under Bob Stoops, he was the national assistant coach of the year and coached Heisman winner Sam Bradford.
Ohio State's last three offensive coordinators have been Tom Herman, Warriner and Wilson. Not bad.
Bob Diaco -- UConn to unemployment to Nebraska: No matter what happens, coaching the Huskers' defense just became a whole lot more entertaining. Diaco, UConn's coach last year, will answer questions. Sometimes with long, divergent answers, but he'll answer questions. Make no mistake, we the media love it. The more colorful, the better.
"Thanks for ripping that scab off ...," he told Nebraska media who asked about his Dec. 26 firing at UConn. "A race starts with how I can get upstairs to my children before they can read it."
Diaco calls himself an obsessive-compulsive who told the media, "I want to straighten out all your microphones right now. ... I am on fire when my feet hit the floor. [My] style is very intense, very detailed."
Diaco has openly embraced the Huskers' Blackshirt tradition. Nebraska improved from 75th to 33rd in scoring defense in 2016 under Mark Banker. But wrapped inside that number was 63 points given up to Ohio State, 40 to Iowa and 38 to Tennessee.
In his first three years as Notre Dame's DC (2010-12), Diaco's defense went from 50th nationally to seventh . Any hint of the Huskers returning to Blackshirt level would be welcome in Lincoln.