Beat of Sports

Beat of Sports

The Beat of Sports with the voice of UCF Sports Marc Daniels. Delivering sports the way you like it - Weekdays 9a-12p


Friday Notebook: Gus Is Home, Simmons-Harden Get What They Want And Pizza

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl - UCF v Florida

Photo: Getty Images

February 11, 2022 8:30 a.m.

Gus Malzahn was born in Irving, Texas and he went to high school in Fort Smith, Arkansas. But like most of us, we are born in one place and may move elsewhere but home is where we find happiness and surround ourselves with people who we trust and a place where you feel wanted. Gus Malzahn is Orlando, Florida. Malzahn took the high road when asked about the situation at Auburn and current head coach Bryan Harsin. Instead, the leader of UCF's football program chose to tell you how much he loves his team and his new hometown and the people who support him.

It's been a trying month for Malzahn, who has tended to his wife while being hospitalized for a period of time. But when Malzahn returned for a press conference earlier this week he praised his staff for their work while he was away from the program. He thanked UCF fans for their prayers and support for his wife and family and he repeated something he has said numerous times in the last year- how much he loves his job and his new home.

Gus Malzahn won a lot of football games at Auburn, 68 out of 103. Six of his eight teams played in a major bowl or national title game. But it wasn't enough. Auburn is a unique place where lots of people with money make it clear who runs the program. Even if you win games, you still need to win more. Even if you beat Alabama every few years, you need to beat them more. Even if you recruit top 10 classes, you need to find better players. And the moment the power players decide they think they can do better, you can no longer do what you want to do- coach football.

Auburn moved on from Gus Malzahn and thought someone better would be easy to find. They paid Malzahn over $20M to leave and then hired someone with no SEC connections who didn't seem to be one of the top choices for the job. One year later, Auburn appears to be working to get rid of Bryan Harsin after a 6-7 season and an avalanche of departures among players and coaches and who knows what else. Assuming Harsin gets all his money, Auburn will have paid out almost $40M to two coaches to not coach and likely north of another $10M for assistants. 

Meanwhile, Gus Malzahn chose to trust someone he believed in when UCF AD Terry Mohajir called him to replace Josh Heupel, who left for Tennessee. Malzahn thought about being an analyst on TV but his heart is in coaching. He took the UCF job and was given the keys to a program that had been to three major bowl games in six seasons. But coming to UCF gave Malzahn a chance to be a coach and leader of a program, not someone who answered to 20 wanna be general managers who constantly reminded Malzahn who they were and how their financial influence gave them the right to have a say in how he ran his program.

At UCF, Malzahn finds a passionate fan base and a nice group of donors but it comes without the structure he dealt with Auburn. He gets to coach and not worry about getting a text from the local banker asking about why he ran a certain play late in the third quarter of the previous game. Malzahn can go out and enjoy a dinner with his lovely wife and be appreciated for the job he's done, not wonder what table six is talking about. He can go to local fundraising events and sell his vision of what UCF can be and how he is building his team for their move to the Big XII.

UCF's fanbase has high expectations but it lives in a more realistic world than Malzahn's previous place of employment. Here in Orlando, Malzahn knows they are still building- not just a program for a new league, but new facilities and new opportunities. Malzahn now recruits in one of the best state's for high school talent while he appears to be owning the transfer portal as well.

Gus Malzahn is coaching, which he always wanted to do. He loves his team and loves the support he has from one of the most passionate people you will ever meet in his AD and a president that believes football is a part of the UCF brand as it continues to grow. Yes, Gus Malzahn may have been born in Texas and grew up in Arkansas and worked in Oklahoma and Alabama. But Orlando is home for Gus Malzahn and home has never been sweeter...

So after sitting out the entire season to get his mental health right, Ben Simmons is now good to go after getting traded? Got it. But here is what the Simmons for James Harden deal really proves. It proves that if you are a star you can force a trade any time you want. It just might take time to get to the trade. Harden has successfully orchestrated a trade for a second time from a team he didn't want to play for. He did it by bailing on the Rockets last year and now again in Brooklyn. Simmons didn't want to play for the Sixers after the playoff debacle last season and all he had to do was sit out until the trade deadline and he got his wish. Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler and Paul George did the same. Don't like your situation, just demand a trade. If you have talent, you will get your wish...

The Magic kept the players people thought they may trade at the deadline. Instead, they acquired two injured players in Bol Bol and PJ Dozier. Dozier was then released after the trade and Bol's contract is up at the end of the season. I can try and explain how the deal helps the Boston Celtics get under the luxury tax but you don't care and frankly I don't care...

If you don't know the key points in the baseball labor situation, it's ok. Here's what you need to know, both sides are fighting over money. The owners have lots of it and rarely report the actual amount. The players want more money and here we are. Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked if owning a team was a better investment than investing in the stock market. Manfred, who works for owners, said you would have made more money investing in the market. The point he was trying to make is owners are not doing that well. Manfred is wrong and he knows it. MLB teams have risen in value greater than the Dow, NASDAQ and S&P over the last decade. In addition, the valuation of every team has increased in the last decade. Expect a season but not on time and I actually think a 130-game season is the range where the schedule should be anyways...

Sunday's Super Bowl Halftime show features Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog and Eminem. Did you know the first song ever played at the first Super Bowl(then known as the AFL-NFL Championship) in Los Angeles was "The Sound of Music" performed by the University of Arizona Symphonic Band...

Final thought: An estimated 12.5 million pizzas will be ordered on Super Bowl Sunday...

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