Earlier this week Arkansas canned athletic director Jeff Long, and multiple sources tell SI that in the wake of a dismal season for fifth-year coach Bret Bielema things have really gotten messy with Razorbacks' brass. Big-money boosters at Arkansas and members of the university's board of trustees have been pushing for the Razorbacks to go after Auburn coach Gus Malzahn to be their next head coach. Malzahn, an Arkansas native, high school coach and former Razorbacks assistant under Houston Nutt, has rallied the Tigers back into playoff contention this season and is coming off a big win over No. 1 Georgia in Week 11.
Long’s fate was sealed at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting, which Long flew in for but was not allowed to take part in, according to sources.
SI has learned, Long got caught up in a power play between some of the Razorbacks’ strongest backers. He hired Bielema after a very successful turn at Wisconsin, but the former Badgers boss is just 29–32 in five seasons and 11–27 in SEC play. The Hogs are 4–6 this fall and 1–5 in the SEC.
Malzahn’s buyout from Auburn would be close to $7 million. He is 43–20 in his five seasons helming the Tigers, including an 8–2 mark this season that features a 6–1 record in the SEC. In 2013, he led Auburn to the BCS national title game, where it lost to Florida State in the final seconds. Malzahn’s own seat at Auburn has been pretty warm on a few instances, but now his team has a shot at the SEC title and maybe the College Football Playoff.