- Nick Cole, SEC Country
Even after Malzahn made an attempt to make them go away by answering a question on the melodrama after the Tigers’ win against Louisiana Monroe on Saturday. If anything, the chatter is getting louder as the winner-take-all Iron Bowl clash with Alabama approaches.
During his weekly appearance with The Opening Drive on WJOX in Birmingham, Finebaum was in a chatty mood about the Malzahn situation. Talking to former Auburn kicker Al Del Greco, who co-hosts the show, the discussion about the upcoming Iron Bowl quickly shifted to the Malzahn situation.
Here’s a look at how that discussion went:
Paul Finebaum: “A lot of this game is going to be off-the-field [stuff], too. Not to perpetuate or propagate the rumor mill, but Gus Malzahn is not going to be able to run away from the Arkansas story this week. He tried after the game, but it’s still out there continuing to gather steam. I’m not saying that affects things, but I’ve seen it– you’ve seen it– sometimes these things have a life of their own. I don’t have any problem of concern with what he’s going to be able to do in terms of preparation, but I do think that’s the X-factor in this game.”
Al Del Greco: “I know why the story is out there about going home and just the percentage of fans who are never really satisfied with what he does, but in your mind, truly do you think that’s a viable option? I mean, to me, there’s no way you’re ever going to win at Arkansas.”
Finebaum: “I do, yes. Listen, Al, I’m not sure there’s any way he’s ever going to win at Auburn. And I say that one week and two days removed from being there. I’m not trying to speak as an expert on Auburn. I’ll leave that to you. But I was on that campus Friday afternoon [before the Georgia game] and I didn’t hear very much support for Gus Malzahn. Now, you have to put all of this in context before people just jump to conclusions. We’re talking about the night before the Georgia game. I did sense from Auburn fans that they really cared if he stayed or if he went. And he knows that. He knows that better than I do or better than you do. And there’s always the temptation to go home. Again, we have to look at this in terms of Auburn not winning the SEC Championship. He’s not going to win the SEC Championship, be in the College Football Playoff and bail out. Those are opportunities that don’t come around too often. He’s had one and he’s not going to blow the second one.
“But if [Arkansas] comes at him and makes him feel wanted, you tell me, Al. Who at Auburn right now will sit down with Gus Malzahn? They may offer him a new deal, they may offer him more money, but can anyone at that school look him in the eye and say ‘You are wanted here. We need you. You are our coach for the next 5-10 years’? I don’t believe that can happen.”
Del Greco: “I don’t believe that person is there with no athletic director. And if you want to put another kind of caveat that Arkansas would have is, and the report is out, that he might have a say in who that new athletic director is [at Arkansas]. And I don’t know how important that is to him. I’ve said it many, many times: I think a lot of people are way too sensitive or way too opinionated on what kind of job he’s done. Because if you look at it, they’re averaging over 40 points per game in SEC play this year. What is it that you’re lacking?”
Finebaum: “Sometimes things are just not meant to be. And I think if you look at his body of work, it has been inconsistent. He may be three or four games away from winning a national championship and somebody is probably going to bring this back as a hot take that didn’t age well, but I know. I know this situation fairly well, and he does not look happy at Auburn. And if you’re Arkansas and you come at him and say ‘Coach, you tell us who you want to work with over the next couple of years and we’ll hire that person. You do what you want. Clean slate.’ To me, it’s pretty tempting.
“We’ve all been places where we were tolerated and not appreciated. And I think that’s the situation he’s in.”
You can listen to the entire interview here:
— WJOX 94.5 FM (@WJOX945) November 20, 2017
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