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Coaches Hot Seat’s Observations From the Peanut Gallery on the Coaching Hires at Arkansas and Auburn – Bret Bielema to Arkansas AND Gus Malzahn to Auburn

Coaches Hot Seat’s Observations From the Peanut Gallery on the Coaching Hires at Arkansas and Auburn

There are some in the news media that follow the Great Game of College Football that call the current Firing and Hiring of College Football Head Coaches the…

“Silly Season”

…..which is an incredibly naïve and uninformed understanding of the importance of a Head Coach for a College Football Team or ANY football team for that matter.

The Great Paul “Bear” Bryant once observed the following TRUTH about the game of football….

“But it’s still a coach’s game. Make no mistake. You start at the top. If you don’t have a good one at the top, you don’t have a cut dog’s chance. If you do, the rest falls into place. You have to have good assistants, and a lot of things, but first you have to have the chairman of the board.”

….and Coach Bryant also said…

“If you are asking me if a football is a coach’s game it is…..and it always has been.”

Before ANYTHING ELSE a football program, team or club that is interested in winning…

Games and Championships

…..must FIRST start with a…

Great and Real Football Coach

….because without a Great and Real Football Coach a football program, team or club will have little chance to win…

Games and Championships

…and thus that is why we call the period of time when the Firing and Hiring of College Football Head Coaches is being done the…

Championship Season

…because THIS IS WHEN Championships are actually won or lost in the decisions made by the “Powers That Be” in college football programs across the country that either succeed or fail at hiring new Head Football Coaches.

A number of years ago a few of us here at Coaches Hot Seat were asked our opinion on the hiring of a head football coach with a football program that was down on its luck and without many wins and NO championships for many years and during a meeting on what kind of coach should be hired for that open head coaching position a Coaches Hot Seat member made the following observation:

CHS Member:  “First of all I would hope we would hire a REAL Football Coach.”

Person in the Meeting:  “What does that mean?”

CHS Member:  “It means a lot of things but let’s start everyone off asking themselves the following question when considering a person for this open head coaching position…..

If a tough looking 6’ 5” guy walked up to the person you are considering for this head coaching position on a sidewalk in a city one night and the person you are considering had his wife and children with him and the tough looking 6’ 5” guy threatened the person and his family and you believe the person you are considering would tell his family to run and he would fight the tough looking 6’ 5” guy while his family escaped then the person is actually tough enough to be a head football coach.

On the other hand if you think the person you are considering would take off running and not fight to defend his family then mark that person’s name off your list.”

Person in the Meeting:  “ What does being willing to fight someone that threatens you and your family have to do with coaching football?”

CHS Member:  “I am guessing you never played football?”

Person in the Meeting:  “No.”

CHS Member:  “Didn’t think so. What I am driving at is that a football coach, especially a head football coach has to be tough and a coward that won’t defend himself and his family doesn’t deserve to be considered for this job or any head coaching job in the game of football.”

Another Person in the Meeting:  “Well, looking at our list of candidates for this job I just eliminated half of them!”

CHS Member:  “Now we are getting somewhere.”

The point of the above observation by a CHS Member a number years ago is that many of the “Powers That Be” that are charged with hiring College Head Football Coaches across America often forget that they are hiring a FOOTBALL COACH and as we here at Coaches Hot Seat look at the TOP of the …

Winningest Active Coaches in I-A (FBS) Football, Coaches Hot Seat

….we see a lot of FOOTBALL COACHES that would put up a Helluva fight in the street if you threatened them and their family.

And now on to the Arkansas and Auburn Head Coaching Hires…

Bret Bielema to Arkansas – A few Coaches Hot Seat members were in Wisconsin this past Summer doing some Election work before the 2012 college football season got underway and they took a couple of days to check-out the Wisconsin football program in the Uber-Liberal Madison, Wisconsin and what they found was that even though Bret Bielema had put up these records with the Badgers…

2006: 12 – 1
2007: 9 – 4
2008: 7 – 6
2009: 10 – 3
2010: 11 – 2 – Big Ten Champion
2011: 11 – 3 – Big Ten Champion

….Bielema just wasn’t that appreciated by the Wisconsin football fans that our CHS Members talked to and there were even a decent-sized minority of UW football fans that wanted a change in the head coaching position at Wisconsin even after Bret Bielema put-up back-to-back Big Ten Championships and Rose Bowl appearances with the Badgers.

Combine that Wisconsin-fan angst against Bret Bielema with the FACT that Bielema was during the 2012 college football season the…

22 nd Highest Paid Head Coach at $2.7 Million Dollars a Year

….which was too low in for Bielema in our opinion and it is not a surprise at all that Bielema would listen if someone came calling and when a school in the SEC Conference like Arkansas comes calling with a job where a coach can win at and with a BIG salary bump ($500,000 a year!) then it was not a surprise to us at all that Bret Bielema is now a Razorback.

Toss on top of all of the above the FACT that Bret Bielema was just recently married to a girl that was living in Florida (he met her in Vegas) as detailed in this September 2011 column by Thayer Evans at FoxSports.com…

Gamble pays off for Badgers coach, Thayer Evans, FoxSports.com

….and you have the perfect recipe for a successful head coach at his current Big-Time School making the jump to another Big-Time School and WA-LA…

Bret Bielema is the Head Football Coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks

Of course, the other end of Bret Bielema taking the head coaching job at Arkansas is that Bielema has now jumped from a lukewarm pot of water (the Big Ten Conference) to a frying pan sitting on top of a roaring fire (the SEC Conference) and it is going to be fascinating to see how the Very Confident and Borderline Arrogant Bret Bielema does when he has to play against teams in the SEC that can beat your ass every week if your team doesn’t show up and play its best on Saturday.

As far as we can tell in Bret Bielema’s SEVEN seasons at Wisconsin the Badgers only played SEC teams TWO times…

2006 – Capital One Bowl
Wisconsin – 17
Arkansas – 14

2007 – Outback Bowl
Wisconsin – 17
Tennessee – 21

…and Bielema is 1 – 1 in those TWO games against SEC foes in what were pretty much bowl games that meant NOTHING AT ALL.

Overall Bret Bielema is a solid football coach who probably was not happy that he wasn’t getting much credit for producing THREE STRAIGHT Big Ten Champions at Wisconsin and when Arkansas AD Jeff Long dangled the opportunity to coach in the SEC in front of the Hyper-Competitive Bielema it was an offer that Bielema just could not turn down.

YES, the SEC Media Days next July in Birmingham, Alabama as always is going to mighty Damn interesting and it should be great fun to see Bret Bielema’s face both when those Hog fans start doing their “Calling The Hogs” chant at the press conference on Wednesday in Fayetteville and when Bielema shows up to see the chaotic and crazy fans at SEC Media days next Summer at SEC Media Days!

Hell, Bret Bielema grew up on a hog farm in Iowa so in many ways this match with the Razorbacks is a match made in Heaven!

Call those pigs Bret and strap yourself in because you have given yourself a Helluva challenge to take on at Arkansas in the SEC Conference.


Guz Malzahn to Auburn – We here at Coaches Hot Seat have thought for some time now that IF and WHEN Auburn fired Gene Chizik that Guz Malzahn was going to be the next Auburn Head Football Coach and after a coaching search that reportedly included interviews with…

Bobby Petrino who was NEVER going to be hired at Auburn

Alabama DC Kirby Smart who would have been a bitter pill to swallow for Auburn fans and thus someone we thought would NEVER be hired at Auburn

Two yet “unnamed coaches” who Auburn may or may not have interviewed

….it was Gus Malzahn standing behind the podium on Tuesday night after being introduced as the “26 th Head Coach in Auburn football history.”

Before we give our opinion on the Gus Malzahn hire at Auburn we must go back to 2006 which was the year that Malzahn was hired by then Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt to be the Razorbacks offensive coordinator and receivers coach and whose hiring conveniently included two of the top recruits in the nation in QB Mitch Mustain and WR Damian Williams.

Several Coaches Hot Seat Members watched with great interest as the 2006 Arkansas season kicked-off with USC traveling to Fayetteville where the Trojans laid a licking…

USC – 50
Arkansas – 14

….on the Razorbacks BUT Arkansas recovered in the next few games running a combination of the Guz Malzahn “hurry-up” offense and Houston Nutt’s more “run-focused” offensive attack which saw the Razorbacks reel-off 10 straight wins BUT not without a rising tension between Malzahn and Nutt with Houston Nutt making most of the offensive playcalls and Malzahn eventually being relegated to little more than a man with headset on the sidelines that was the offensive coordinator Arkansas in name only.

It is just our opinion BUT IF Houston Nutt had just turned over the Arkansas offense to Gus Malzahn in 2006 and let the chips fall where they would have fallen we believe that Arkansas would have gone on a SEVERAL YEAR RUN of winning the SEC Eastern Division with Malzahn quickly becoming a top coaching candidate and moving on to a head coaching job long before taking over at Arkansas State in 2011 and with Houston Nutt probably still being the head coach at Arkansas today.

Instead Houston Nutt and Gus Malzahn could not co-exist on the Arkansas staff and Malzahn headed to Tulsa to be the OC there for two years and then on to Auburn as OC for three years and Houston Nutt was fired after the 2007 season at Arkansas and then was hired at Ole Miss in 2008 and fired in 2011.

YES, in our opinion at least, IF Houston Nutt had just turned over the Arkansas offense to Guz Malzahn which is the same offense that we read about in 2003 in Malzahn’s book…

The Hurry-Up, No-Huddle: An Offensive Philosophy, Amazon.com

…then Arkansas would have in our opinion won a couple of SEC Championships at least under Houston Nutt and Malzahn would have been head coach at a I-A (FBS) school long before he arrived at Auburn in 2009.

What then to make of Auburn’s hiring of Gus Malzahn on Tuesday to be the “26 th head football coach at Auburn University?”

Well, from an overall point of view we doubt that Auburn could have done better than Gus Malzahn considering that Gus has already coached at Auburn and knows the lay of the land on The Plains which is an unique land in itself that has its own traditions and customs that sometimes appear a little odd or strange to the outsider but then one could say the same for most of the 14 SEC Conference schools where football is only behind religion and family and we are not so sure that football isn’t really first!

From a tactical point of view and when you talk tactics in the state of Alabama and you are standing in Auburn you are talking about the tactics vis-à-vis the University of Alabama football team then Auburn just hired the EXACT kind of coach that Nick Saban DID NOT want to see take over at Auburn because if you put Gus Malzahn’s book…

The Hurry-Up, No-Huddle: An Offensive Philosophy, Amazon.com

…in front of Nick Saban you better step-back because Saban might just throw-up on it because Saban HATES “hurry-up” offenses because it reduces Saban’s ability to directly effect and influence a game with different defensive calls and defensive substitutions and thus why the last person Nick Saban wanted to see taking over the Auburn football program would have been…

Chip Kelly

….and the next to last person that Saban would have wanted to see take over the Auburn football program is….

Gus Malzahn

….which makes the hiring of Gus Malzahn at least “tactic wise” PURE GENIUS!

One other thing about Gus Malzahn which will be a big change from the just fired Gene Chizik is that Gus Malzahn is like us here at Coaches Hot Seat in that we cannot imagine life without the….

Game of Football

….and whether it is us playing tackle football (which can get ugly!), playing flag-football (which also can get ugly), throwing the football around or watching the game of football in person or on TV our lives are much richer and a Helluva lot more fun than they would be if were not playing and fans of the Great Game of Football.

Reading Gus Malzahn’s book many years ago….

The Hurry-Up, No-Huddle: An Offensive Philosophy, Amazon.com

….and watching Malzahn on TV and in person both while coaching games and during interviews we always came away with the impression that Malzahn is one of those people that Paul “Bear” Bryant once said was the kind of coach he wanted around him at all times…

“Surround yourself with people who can’t live without football. I’ve had a lot of them.”

Gus Malzahn, at least for the moment, can’t live without football and the GREATEST Head Coaches in College Football History were all the Very Same Damn Way as is the Head Football Coach 160 Miles up the road in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama named Nick Saban.

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In the end it doesn’t matter what we here at Coaches Hot Seat think of the Malzahn hiring at Auburn or what anyone else thinks BECAUSE the ONLY THING that matters is how Gus Malzahn performs as the Head Football Coach at Auburn University and that performance either good or bad can only be controlled by ONE Man….

Gus Malzahn

Memo to Gus Malzahn:  Life is precious and short Gus and best case scenario is that you have TWO YEARS to turn the Auburn football around to an “acceptable level” which we would peg at NINE or MORE Wins a year and being able to be competitive against Alabama EVERY YEAR and with that in mind there is no time to waste especially when you realize that Washington State will roll into Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn on…

August 31, 2013

…and that should be a Helluva interesting football game between Mike Leach’s offense and Gus Malzahn’s offense on The Plains in Auburn.

Coach Hard Gus Malzahn and if you fail at Auburn you know what is waiting for you….

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