Keeping Zac Etheridge was a no-brainer, and it's already paid off in a big way
Hugh Freeze kept Cadillac Williams on his staff, and one could argue that the other former Tiger he retained is just as important.
DB coach Zac Etheridge (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
If retaining Cadillac Williams was the wide-open layup that Auburn’s new coaching regime couldn’t possibly miss, retaining Zac Etheridge was the easy bucket after pressing and stealing the ensuing in-bounds pass.
After Hugh Freeze was hired, three position coaches stayed put and continued their recruiting efforts for the Tigers.
One was Williams, who was announced as a permanent assistant for a third straight head coach on the day Freeze was formally introduced. But the other two — Etheridge and linebackers coach Christian Robinson — were not confirmed as Freeze went to work both recruiting and building his first staff on the Plains.
On Dec. 15, Robinson tweeted a thank you to Auburn, signaling his departure. Meanwhile, all signs pointed toward Etheridge staying, even after Freeze decided to reunite with now three-time Auburn assistant coach Wesley McGriff and hire him as a defensive backs coach.
While Etheridge hadn’t split the defensive back room duties during his first two seasons at Auburn, the program was going back to having a pair of coaches be in charge of one of the biggest position groups on the entire roster.
Then, last week, Etheridge made the news official — he wasn’t going anywhere.
The timing of the news was important. It was two days before the start of the early signing period in college football, which has now become the new version of National Signing Day.
And Etheridge had one of the best signing days possible, playing a huge role in Auburn going from one of the worst 2023 classes in Power 5 football to a top-20 group that still has plenty of room to grow over the next two months.