Gus Malzahn has Auburn at No. 6 in the nation with a major matchup against Alabama in the Iron Bowl coming up Nov. 25 that will decide the SEC West title, a place in the championship game in Atlanta against Georgia and a possible spot in the College Football Playoff.
Somehow, that is not the major headline that is coming out of Auburn right now.
According to SBNation.com, boosters at Arkansas are high on hiring Malzahn as its next head coach, and if Auburn were to lose to the Crimson Tide, Malzahn could be on his way to Fayetteville.
There are some reasons to think that Malzahn would be interested in taking over the Razorbacks: He’s from the state, has deep ties in the high school system and served as offensive coordinator for Arkansas in 2006.
Malzahn could have other, more personal reasons to ditch Auburn, mainly the fact that he could feel Tigers fans have never fully warmed up to him. Yes, he was all the rage in 2013 after leading his first Auburn team to a win over Alabama, an SEC title and the BCS National Championship Game. However, three straight mediocre seasons afterward had his job status possibly on the line until last week’s big 40-17 win against No. 1 Georgia.
Accepting the Arkansas job would be a big step down for Malzahn. While the Razorbacks do have some historical success, they lag behind in almost every aspect compared to the Tigers, especially in recruiting and facilities. In the hierarchy of the SEC, Arkansas is in the lower half and competing for a national title seems like a pipe dream.
It also could be a hit to Malzahn’s reputation, seemingly taking the easy road out by avoiding the major elephant on the other side of the state that he has to currently compete with on a daily basis. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Malzahn has never backed down from a challenge, rising up quickly in the coaching ranks from high school to head of a major college football program in no time. If he were to leave for Arkansas, it would be another victory for Nick Saban and Alabama, and show a fragile psyche by Malzahn that has not yet be seen.
It all depends on what Malzahn thinks is best for him both personally and professionally, and only he and maybe his wife Kristi know which course this path could take if the opportunity presents itself.
Both jobs present different challenges. Which one will Malzahn possibly choose?