One puzzle about a rumor making the rounds is why Gus Malzahn would consider leaving Auburn for Arkansas. I know he’s from there, so there’s a little momma factor in play, but Arkansas is a much tougher job than Auburn is. Sure, Alabama is Alabama, but as this year proved again, when Malzahn has a quarterback who fits his system, he can go toe-to-toe with Saban.
So what’s the deal, then? Stupid me… when in doubt, what’s always the deal?
And, yes, all those are just backdrop issues to the larger anvil lingering over what should be a sun-kissed weekend for Auburn – a contract showdown. Arkansas is so eager to throw money at Auburn coach Gus Malzahn that they are holding up their entire search just for the opportunity. One source with knowledge of Arkansas’ thinking said the school is “ready to back up the Brinks truck” to lure Malzahn away from Auburn. Arkansas athletics has financial backing of the families around Tyson Foods and Walmart who’d like nothing better for their native son to return home.
Malzahn’s contract hasn’t been significantly adjusted – other than a year added on – since the eve of the SEC championship in 2013.
Days after Tennessee threw truly stupid money at Mike Gundy, it would be foolish to assume Arkansas, with those resources, couldn’t behave similarly. Add to that a rudderless athletic department at Auburn with Jacobs’ imminent departure as well as the school’s well-earned “what have you done for us lately?” reputation which is something Malzahn recognizes from his own hiring and I can’t entirely discount the possibility.
I don’t know that any uncertainty over their future will have an impact Saturday night, but it won’t bother me if it does.