Paul Finebaum is never short on opinions. Some more outlandish than others, but they’re almost always intriguing.
During his weekly appearance on WJOX’s The Opening Drive in Birmingham on Monday morning, the SEC Network personality caught the attention of a couple of fan bases with his opinion on the future of Gus Malzahn at Auburn.
After addressing the concerns Tigers fans may have with their fifth year coach as he prepares to run the gauntlet against Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama, Finebaum offered up a strong case for Malzahn leaving the program at the end of the year whether he is asked to do so or not.
The destination? Fayetteville, Ark. to coach the Razorbacks.
The reasoning? Well, it’s not as crazy as it may seem on the surface.
“Yes, I do,” Finebaum started when asked if he thought Malzahn would “go home” to Arkansas after the 2017 season. “Let’s assume Gus Malzahn survives this season. He’s either going to have Jay Jacobs as his boss– someone with whom he doesn’t speak– or he’s going to have a new boss who has no vested interest or investment in him. So, if given the opportunity to go home where he can escape Auburn and escape the immediate shadow of Nick Saban– now, listen, you still play Saban at Arkansas– but the expectations at Arkansas are ‘Have an 8-4 season, maybe win your bowl game and we’ll throw you a parade.’ At Auburn, 8-4 gets you fired.”
Malzahn spent the better part of 15 years as a high school football coach in Arkansas before taking the offensive coordinator job with the Razorbacks under Houston Nutt in 2006. Malzahn already once left Auburn for “home” when he left his offensive coordinator gig with the Tigers to become the head coach at Arkansas State in 2012. That one-year stop landed him the head coaching gig at Auburn when Gene Chizik was fired following that season.
Of course, this theory is nice and all, but Arkansas still has a football coach making quite a bit of money. All of this chatter and theorizing may be meaningless if the Razorbacks decided to keep Bret Bielema for a sixth season.
Arkansas is 2-5 through seven games, and just suffered a blowout loss at the hands of Malzahn’s Auburn squad in Week 8.
You can listen to the entire interview here:
— WJOX 94.5 FM (@WJOX945) October 23, 2017