Auburn stayed within program connections and got former offensive coordinator and Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn, while the Razorbacks made a surprising move in hiring Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.
Malzahn spent three years as offensive coordinator at Auburn from 2009-2011. His offense broke several school records over his tenure there. In 2010, Malzahn’s offense led the SEC in scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense, pass efficiency and first downs.
His offensive scheme is best known for the no-huddle, hurry-up offense and the wildcat formation. Malzahn finished 9-3 and won the Sun Belt conference in his only year at head coach of Arkansas State. It is unknown whether he will coach the Red Wolves against No. 25 Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
The surprise of the day comes from Fayetteville, where the Razorbacks hired Bret Bielema, a coach that had not been linked to the job yet, from Wisconsin. Bielema had a 68-24 record in seven seasons at Madison and has taken the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances.
Arkansas took a tumble under first year coach John L. Smith in 2012. The Razorbacks did not finish bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. Bielema will look to end the slide and compete in an SEC West with national powers Alabama and LSU, along with up-and-coming Texas A&M.
With three SEC jobs now taken, Tennessee is left in the cold, still waiting for news on a new head coach.