AUBURN, Ala. — Kevin Steele is hoping to halt Auburn’s defensive coordinator turnstile.
Hired away from LSU, Steele has returned to the state aiming to revive the fortunes of a struggling defense now led by its fifth defensive coordinator in six years — and third in coach Gus Malzahn’s four years.
“I want to be here the duration of my career, and I’ve never been able to say that before,” the 57-year-old Steele said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. “I saw my first game here. It’ll be just fine with me that I coach my last game here.”
Steele replaces Will Muschamp, who left after one season to become South Carolina’s head coach. The former Baylor head coach and defensive coordinator at both Clemson and Alabama spent only one year in that post at LSU.
Malzahn announced the hire after the Tigers’ bowl win over Memphis on Dec. 30. He didn’t take questions from reporters then or Tuesday after a brief introduction.
Auburn hasn’t released details of his contract, and Steele wouldn’t discuss the length of the deal.
“We got the right guy,” Malzahn said. “I was looking for somebody that had SEC experience and has been successful in this league, and definitely he has that and then some. I was looking for a successful recruiter, one of the top recruiters in all of college football.
“I was looking for stability, somebody that would be here a while to have a chance to build our defense into something special.
Auburn, which finished 7-6, ranked 71st in total defense and 81st against the run last season.
Steele’s coaching stops include Florida State under Bobby Bowden and Nebraska under Tom Osborne. He said he sees some of their same characteristics in Malzahn.
Steele was Alabama’s linebackers coach in 2014 before heading to SEC West rival LSU.
He grew up in the state and his brother, Jeff, is an associate athletic director at Auburn. Steele said he was a first-grader when his father, a high school coach, brought him to Auburn for a game.
Steele said he’s spent the last week speaking to potential assistants, recruits and Malzahn. The head coach is still seeking a new linebackers coach and secondary coach, since Lance Thompson and Travaris Robinson both left with Muschamp.