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Auburn players address reports Arkansas targeting Gus Malzahn


As Gus Malzahn affirmed his desire to remain Auburn's coach next season and beyond amid reports that Arkansas will make a run at its native son, Auburn players shared their thoughts on the future of their head coach.

Fresh off a 28-7 loss to No. 6 Georgia in Saturday's SEC Championship Game, several Auburn players were asked how they have handled the rumors swirling around Malzahn's future with the program and whether they expect him to return for a sixth season on the Plains.

"Gus Malzahn loves this school," running back Kerryon Johnson said. "I love Gus Malzahn. If he leaves, he leaves. I don't think he will, but that's a grown man, he makes his own decisions and I can't tell the future, so all I know is today he's our head coach and tomorrow and next year and whenever I leave, he will be as well."

Malzahn, who is currently under contract for three more seasons, addressed his future at Auburn during his postgame press conference and said he wants to be the Tigers' coach moving forward. Malzahn has been linked to the Arkansas job since before the Razorbacks parted ways with Bret Bielema last week.


Gus Malzahn: 'I want to be' Auburn's coach next year

Gus Malzahn: 'I want to be' Auburn's coach next year

After losing the SEC Championship Game to Georgia, Malzahn made it sound like his return to Auburn is up to Auburn, not him.


A native of Fort Smith, Ark., Malzahn made a name for himself as a high school coach in the state and was Arkansas' offensive coordinator in 2006. He also served as Arkansas State's head coach in 2012 before being hired at Auburn to replace Gene Chizik.

"I think Coach Malzahn wants to be here," quarterback Jarrett Stidham said. "I think he loves it here. It's, again, speculation, speculation. It's part of the business, so I understand."

Auburn leading receiver Ryan Davis said he's "confident" Malzahn will return in 2018, though many around the team haven't paid much attention to the rumors circulating about his coaching future.

Stidham said he doesn't pay attention to the news -- whether it's around college football or in the political world -- outside of what little he may see on ESPN's bottom-line ticker. Defensive tackle Dontavius Russell said he wasn't aware of the Malzahn-to-Arkansas rumors until a reporter informed him in the locker room after Saturday's game.

Wide receiver Darius Slayton said it hasn't been difficult to block any such outside noise, especially with the high-stakes month the Tigers have had on the field between three top-10 matchups with Georgia, Alabama and Georgia again.

"(We're) not worried about it," Slayton said. "I mean, we're players. We play ball. Whatever Coach Malzahn decides to do is up to him. Regardless, we'll still be here and we'll still play hard. We'll see how it works out."

Johnson doesn't believe the rumors affected the team or Malzahn this week heading into the SEC title game, which ended with a role reversal of the teams' first matchup in Jordan-Hare Stadium last month.

"I don't even think Gus, if you know Gus you know he doesn't even look at outside noise," Johnson said. "He's about as one-track minded as it gets. That man was focused on winning an SEC Championship. That's what we focused on and we didn't do it. Like I said, I don't read his mind, he's a grown man, he makes his own decisions. I mean that's the end of it, that's his choice."

Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, who affirmed his commitment to Auburn amid reports he's interested in the South Alabama opening, said he wasn't concerned about the coaching carousel rumors surrounding Malzahn.

"When you're in this business, you try not to worry; you just take it one day at a time," Lindsey said. "No, I'm not worried at all."

Several players said they aren't sure how they would react should Malzahn be wooed by his home-state school. That move could be particularly tough for Stidham, who was recruited to Auburn last year by Malzahn and then-offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, who left for the same position at UConn back in January.

When asked if it would be tough to see Malzahn leave, should that happen, Stidham simply said he believes Malzahn "loves being here at Auburn."

"Shoot, he has to do what's best for him and his family," running back Kam Martin said. "I really don't know what to say about it if it happens."

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What a testament to GM in the way these players handled these questions. Very proud of the whole team. Great team. 

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Bunch of douchebags in the locker room after a heartbreak grilling these young men about their coach. Screw you Tom Green. Can't wait for the big re-structure over there. Then people can interview you middle of the night about your job. 

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It pisses me off that the players even had to address this....and that is on Gus.  He could have squashed this talk early last week, but its all about the $$$$.  

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