AUBURN, Ala. — It's just past 6 a.m., the sun slowly rising on the Plains, and outside the Auburn football complex a few dedicated joggers lumber past the giant Tiger paw at the intersection of Heisman and Donahue Drive.
Gus Malzahn is already in his office. The third-year Auburn coach has been there since 5:50. The Tigers are grinding their way toward the two-week point of preseason camp, and the last practice before their second scrimmage of the preseason looms later that afternoon.
Malzahn, just like his no-huddle, warp-speed offense, is a buzz saw of energy as he maps out the day and prepares for his 7 a.m. staff meeting.
"Want a cup of coffee?" he asks. "I don't drink as much coffee in the preseason as I do in the season."
Malzahn looks at his cell phone sheepishly and explains that it's a necessary vice in today's college football world, particularly when it involves recruiting. He excuses himself briefly to return a text.
"I'm a one-track guy. I don't like distractions," he says. "Sometimes I just have to put (the cell phone) away, or I'm never going to get anything done."
Most coaches are naturally guarded. Some are borderline paranoid. Malzahn, admittedly, would fall into both categories, but he agreed to open up his program to ESPN.com for a day, a peek behind the curtain of what preseason camp looks like for a team with national championship aspirations.
Click here for the rest of Chris Low's day inside Auburn football.