Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema’s future in Fayetteville is not looking too bright, as the man who hired him in Dec. 2012, Razorbacks AD Jeff Long, was fired on Wednesday. Bielema, who has a 29-32 record over the course of five seasons, has not been fired from Arkansas, but Las Vegas already has odds listed for who will be the Hogs’ next head coach. Here they are via BetOnline:
Obviously some of these like Jerry Jones, Charlie Strong, and Scott Frost seem more unlikely to happen, but there are some guys on this list that do make sense. Blake Anderson is currently the head coach at Arkansas State and certainly would take the job, and Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin was Arkansas State’s offensive coordinator in 2013.
One of the other names that seems to be legitimate is Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. Jason Kirk reported earlier this week that Malzahn could make the jump to Arkansas if the Tigers lose the Iron Bowl next weekend:
That’s according to a person with direct knowledge, who requested not to be named, in order to speak freely.
Malzahn’s roots are deep. He’s a Natural State native, played for a smaller Arkansas college and walked on for the Hogs, met his wife in the state, made his name as a high school coaching legend in the state, spent a year as Arkansas’ OC (the less said about Houston Nutt’s willingness to actually run Malzahn’s offense, the better), and went 9-3 in one year as Arkansas State’s head coach.
Wait, the head coach of the No. 6 team might leave, despite a Playoff shot?
Well, Auburn’s No. 6 with a playoff shot right now. Auburn welcomes No. 1 Alabama Thanksgiving weekend. With a loss then, Auburn would no longer be No. 6 nor have a playoff shot.
At that point, Malzahn would have lost four in a row to Nick Saban’s Tide, with Saban making three (and counting?) Playoff trips. The Kick Six, Malzahn’s only win over Saban as a head coach, will have felt like a million years ago.
Again, Bielema isn’t gone yet, but Long’s hiring makes it look pretty doubtful that he returns next season:
The dots here aren’t hard to connect. Arkansas is 4-6 this year and 29-32 under Bielema, with particularly awful results in SEC play. Arguably Bielema’s chief advocate at Arkansas is now out of a job. When athletic directors leave in the middle of bad football seasons, that’s virtually never a good thing for his head coach.
We’ll see which of these Vegas candidates ends up getting the job, if Bielema does end up getting fired.