If the reports swirling across the South are to be believed, Arkansas has proven it’s extremely serious about pursuing Auburn’s Gus Malzahn as its next coach.
The Razorbacks have apparently presented an offer in the range of $50 million for seven years, according to a report from CBSSports.com. The offer was presumably made to Malzahn on Saturday following the Tigers’ 28-7 loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. That figure equates to $7.1 million per year. Sources have indicated to SEC Country that the Hogs are likely prepared to pay Malzahn up to $7.5 million per year without hesitation.
Malzahn currently has a base salary of $4.725 million per year — making him the 11th highest-paid coach in college football, according to the USA Today salary database. The Hogs’ reported offer presents a base salary that was only topped by Alabama’s Nick Saban and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney this season.
Clearly, this isn’t the Razorbacks simply trying to sell the allure of Malzahn returning to his home state and receiving greater appreciation than he receives in Auburn. Those are factors, sure, but this type of money is a game-changer.
“We have worked very hard to create something [at Auburn],” Malzahn said Saturday. “We have a great foundation for the future. I’m the head coach at Auburn, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this can go, what we’ve built, in the future. I want to see that through, personally.”
Malzahn later reiterated he “wants to be” the coach at Auburn next year. That sort of language leaves him plenty of room to maneuver and clearly puts the ball is in Auburn’s court.
Another report from CBSSports.com states that Arkansas is expecting to receive a decision from Malzahn by the end of Sunday before moving on. That means Auburn must act quickly now that Malzahn’s current deal, with three years remaining, seems to be insufficient to keep him.
In the event Malzahn chooses to stay at Auburn, Arkansas is expected to shift its focus to Memphis coach Mike Norvell. Memphis lost to Central Florida, 62-55 in double overtime, in the American Athletic Conference title game Saturday afternoon.