Speculation occurred last time the Arkansas job was open, and with the job open again after the dismissal of Chad Morris on Sunday, this year is no different with no shortage of people pounding the table for Gus Malzahn to return to Arkansas.
Of course, Malzahn rose up in the coaching ranks starting in Arkansas, where he led programs at Hughes HS (AR), Shiloh Christian HS (AR) and Springdale HS (AR) to unprecedented success including a few state titles at the last two aforementioned schools. That success led to an opportunity to join the Razorbacks staff under Houston Nutt in 2006 where he served as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach under Houston Nutt for one friction-filled season. From there it was on to stops at Tulsa, then Auburn as offensive coordinator before his break as a college head coach at Arkansas State for a year before being named head coach at Auburn.
Asked about a possible return to his Arkansas roots to lead the Razorbacks, Gus used the same approach he has when asked about other jobs (including Arkansas) in the past.
"I love Auburn like I've said in the past. We have a bright future here. Nothing has changed," Malzahn told reporters today.
Sure, Malzahn could have said something to the tune of "I love it here, and I fully expect to be the head coach here next fall," and put rumors to bed for good. But also, how can we truly expect a coach to come out and say that if athletic directors aren't willing to say that for their head coaches when fans, and "twidiots" are foaming at the mouth for change. Malzahn has had to deal with "hot seat" chatter for the past few seasons now .
We all know how these situations typically work out. Interest from another school prompts the current school to add a year or two and pay bump to the current deal, and everyone is "happy" for a limited time. OR, the other school finds a way to come at the coach with an offer that can't be taken lightly - like a fully guaranteed one in Jimbo Fisher's case at Texas A&M.
Malzahn is 60-29 at Auburn with two (ties) for the SEC West title and one 10-win season (2017). The idea that he could be on the hot seat what seems like year in and year out is crazy to some, but such is the burden of expectations on The Plains.
Stay tune to The Scoop for the latest, as always.