The Auburn Tigers are set to trek northwest to Fayetteville this weekend to battle the Arkansas Razorbacks, and this looming SEC West battle has already garnered outside interest for what has transpired off the field. The two programs are generally linked through Auburn’s first-year head coach Gus Malzahn, who hails from the Natural State and who initiated his meteoric rise through the college coaching ranks with a highly successful stint incorporating his trademark Wild Hog formation as Houston Nutt’s offensive coordinator at Arkansas. But it is the coach on the opposing sideline who has grabbed the headlines and who has ruffled some feathers with his critical comments delivered to the media in his press conference. Arkansas first-year head coach Bret Bielema this week called out Malzahn and Auburn for providing the Razorbacks with shoddy film footage of their offense, implying that the film paints a deceptively incomplete picture of Auburn’s offensive attack. Such comments appear to come off as sour grapes, as bitter taste from Bielema based on how the Hogs’ season has played out thus far.
The respective offensive philosophies of Bret Bielema and Gus Malzahn exist at completely polar opposite ends of the spectrum, with Bielema employing an old school smashmouth rushing attack and Malzahn employing a no-huddle up-tempo spread attack. Such a consideration of the immense disparity of offensive approaches between the two coaches is important, given the context of Bielema’s critical remarks. The remarks come off as a desperate attempt by Bielema at this point in time to rally support behind him and his program, which has been non-competitive and sorely overwhelmed in recent conference losses to Alabama and South Carolina. Thus far in only one season under Bielema’s watch, Arkansas sits in the unenviable basement position within the Western division; such is a far cry from the lofty heights experienced by the program under the guide of previous coach Bobby Petrino, who recently took the Hogs to consecutive ten-win seasons.
Ultimately college football coaches are judged by fans and outside observers based on their results on the field – wins and losses. Bielema’s negative remarks hurled toward Auburn come off as an intentional attempt to divert fans’ attention away from inevitable criticism from the on-field results of the Razorbacks.
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