You are the owner of this article.
Tipsheet: Malzahn should escape Auburn, save Arkansas football

Tipsheet: Malzahn should escape Auburn, save Arkansas football

Support local journalism for 99¢

Now that LSU has knocked off Alabama, Auburn fans will be even more anxious to see their Tigers do the same.

So if Auburn coach Gus Malzahn can't get it done, that school's fan base will become even more hostile.

Fortunately Malzahn has a golden parachute -- a buyout of roughly $27 million -- that ensures a soft landing. He could strike a massive financial settlement and get right back to work for Arkansas.

Malzahn could slide over to the SEC East, get the Razorbacks back on track to annual bowl appearances and earn the adulation of a long-suffering fan base. This is a no-brainer, right?

SEC media maven Paul Finebaum took to the airwaves to encourage the move.

"I think he has to consider it," Finebaum said. "Regardless of this weekend or two weekends from now, we all know the circumstances at Auburn. It’s just a never-ending soap opera. There are people who genuinely love Gus Malzahn and appreciate him. There’s an equal number who don’t. I don’t think that’s going to change.

“To me, he gambled two years ago. He made a lot of money. Now I would leave. I don’t think it’s a difficult decision for Gus. I would take the money. We’ve all covered transitions. You’re taking over for Chad Morris, who has one of the worst records, one of the most inept, incompetent and laughable programs I have ever seen in the history of covering the SEC. What do you have to do? … Go to a bowl game and they’ll give you a parade.”

A complicating factor is Malzahn's long-time friendship with Morris, dating back to their days coaching high school football. Morris was coaching at Stephenville High in Texas when he sought advice from Malzahn, who was at Springdale High in Arkansas.

Although they haven't worked together on the same staff, they have remained in contact over the years.

“I hate it for Chad,” Malzahn said at his weekly news conference. “He’s a wonderful person, a wonderful coach. He’ll bounce back.”

Morris went 4-18 overall and 0-14 in SEC play while failing to survive two full seasons at Arkansas. The school owes him slightly more than $10 million, so he should be OK financially.

"The buyout situation throughout college athletics I don't think is great," Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek told reporters. "There's huge buyouts in all these contracts. And I did say I thought that — and I said it in my opening press conference — losing football games should be condition for terms of your employment to be nullified. And that's tough to be a pioneer in that because that hurts your candidate pool moving forward. It has to be an industry-wide change. It can't be one where Arkansas takes the lead on that, per se, or it's going to hurt our candidate pool. I don't see any significant changes in how we do our contracts and we will pay what we need to pay to get the best person to take this position."


Here is what folks are writing about college football:

Ivan Maisel, "Watching No. 3 Alabama do its best imitation of Arkansas in the first half Saturday against No. 2 LSU, the thought occurred that nothing lasts forever. Watching Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa give away the ball twice, watching punter Ty Perine go stonehanded on a snap at midfield, watching Trevon Diggs' interception negated because the little something extra that the Tide defense deployed was a 12th man, Alabama looked as if it had contracted a sudden case of Razorback flu. You couldn't be sure which torch was being passed: the SEC West, the entire SEC, or all of the FBS, but that torch felt like one more thing that Alabama decided to give away in front of 101,821 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Overreaction? Don't forget: The last time the Alabama program played a top-five team, last January, the Tide was humiliated 44-16 by Clemson. In eight games this season, Alabama played only one ranked opponent, a Texas A&M team with a No. 24 ranking that proved to be, at best, optimistic. Often, the end of a dynasty is seen only in hindsight. But when Alabama allowed LSU to score two touchdowns in the final 26 seconds of the first half and take a 33-13 lead into the half, there was nothing subtle to discern. The stately Saban manor on Playoff Boulevard looked like a fixer-upper purchased by those Gen X Orgerons. That must have been what the LSU head coach meant when he gathered his players at midfield after the 46-41 victory that snapped Alabama's 31-game home winning streak. 'This is our house from now on!' Ed Orgeron shouted."

Pete Fiutak, College Football News: "Like it or not, no matter how the sausage was made, Bama put up 41 points. Tua Tagovailoa threw for 418 yards and four scores on a bum ankle – get ready for that to be a talking point in a few weeks – Najee Harris ran for 146 yards and scored twice, and in the end, the team looked the part of one of the four best teams – at least offensively. It might not be one of the three best, but fourth? Who’s that fourth team – at least in the eyes of the CFP committee – if it’s not Bama? It’s been cute and all, but Minnesota and Baylor aren’t getting into the College Football Playoff. Oregon? Lost to Auburn. If Bama beats Auburn at Auburn, there goes that. I actually think Utah could do some damage in the tournament, but it has to get there first, and the loss to USC doesn’t help. Who’s got the chops to finish out the rest of the way without another loss? Oklahoma? Yeeesh. Georgia? More than you think (again, give me a moment). PennState? Intriguing (also, it’s coming in a second), but probably not considering it lost to Minnesota and Bama lost to the No. 2-soon-to-be-No. 1 team. So who? Who’s that fourth team? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? LSU, next time you kill something, make sure it stays dead."

Pete Thamel, Yahoo! Sports: "The Auburn football team is amid a solid 7-2 season, came in No. 12 in the initial College Football Playoff standings and hosts two marquee games in November. For a team with a microscopic chance at reaching the top four, Auburn finds itself at the conversational crossroads of the College Football Playoff and beyond. The Tigers’ role as unlikely November attention magnet comes from a confluence that ranges from the school’s A-list schedule to its unpredictable administration to the open job at Arkansas. Auburn will end up being in the middle of nearly every playoff conversation in the next month, as it is a pivotal factor in the playoff chase and SEC race. With coach Gus Malzahn’s awkward potential role as an expected top Arkansas target again, the conversation about Auburn spans from the top of the SEC standings to the bottom. Let’s start on the field. Auburn has a chance to deliver a knockout blow to both Georgia (Nov. 16) and Alabama (Nov. 30) when they visit The Plains this month. (Samford offers the Tigers a light snack in between.) Auburn’s defense is No. 13 nationally in scoring (17.4), which portends compelling games in the Tigers’ consistently raucous home atmosphere. Both Auburn SEC home games could be considered College Football Playoff elimination games for Georgia (8-1) and Alabama (8-1). In theory, playing at Auburn means a quality victory. Unless, of course, the results of the games are so lopsided that Auburn ends the season with four losses and outside the CFP’s top 20."

Pat Forde, "The Gophers (9-0) get the fourth spot at the moment, however slightly. Résumé attributes to date: zero losses; a very solid victory over top-10 Penn State, in which Minnesota never trailed; it has now been 281 minutes and 24 seconds since the Gophers trailed anyone, which is nearly five complete games. Résumé demerits: The non-conference schedule was both underwhelming and dangerous, with Minnesota needing a touchdown with 13 seconds left to beat Georgia Southern, a TD with 46 seconds left to force overtime against Fresno State, and a touchdown with 5:38 left to beat South Dakota State; Sagarin strength of schedule is 70th, lowest of anyone on this list; the Big Ten West remains softer than the Big Ten East. What’s left: at Iowa Saturday, at Northwestern Nov. 23, home against Wisconsin Nov. 30. With a two-game lead in the Big Ten West, the Gophers will have to lose twice to be kept out of the conference championship game. Outlook: A 12-0 Minnesota team that loses a competitive game to Ohio State would definitely still be in contention for the fourth spot, pending developments elsewhere. And an 11-1 Minnesota team that beats Ohio State would have an even better chance of getting in the field."

Dan Wolken, USA Today: "Everyone who looked at South Carolina's schedule knew this was going to be a difficult year. In addition to the usual suspects in the SEC East and its annual game against Clemson, Will Muschamp’s team drew the short straw on its rotating conference crossover game, replacing Ole Miss with Alabama. In other words, all the ingredients were there for this to be a debacle — especially if something catastrophic happened like an injury to a key player. Of course, that exact scenario played out when starting quarterback Jake Bentley suffered a season-ending injury in the opener against North Carolina, forcing freshman Ryan Hilinski into the lineup right away. So perhaps it's no surprise that South Carolina sits here today with a 4-6 record that could easily turn into 4-8 with games left against Texas A&M and Clemson. But the route to get here has been curious, with some really promising performances (a win over Georgia, for instance) and some really bad ones (getting blown out by Tennessee and Missouri)."


"Look, the No. 1 thing that I'm concerned about, just so everybody gets it, is how we complete the season. I don't want to talk about anything other than the game that we have this week. We're not making any predictions or whatever."

• Alabama coach Nick Saban, dismissing questions about his team's diminished College Football Playoff hopes.

Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Blues News

Breaking News

Cardinals News

Daily 6

National Breaking News