Gus will win round one (and probably round two next year). It is much faster to build a house of straw (a 'let's outscore them' tempo offense) than a house of brick (pro style offense and defense). You can't shortcut the process of recruiting and building up athletes needed for a pro style game. Years three and four for both coaches should be very interesting.
Flashback to SEC Media Days when Auburn’s new coach was asked if his up-tempo offense was dangerous for athletes. Malzahn said the first time he’d heard that he thought it was a joke.
In a scene that plays out every year at the league’s media scrum, Bret Bielema was then told that Malzahn had said concerns over hurry-up offenses were a joke. Arkansas’ new coach assumed that Auburn’s coach was directing that comment right at him, which he wasn’t. Bielema — clearly angry — said, “I’m no comedian,” and promptly went into a long dissertation on just how dangerous fast offenses really are.
That’s the backstory. Now we jump ahead to yesterday.
During his weekly Monday gab session, Bielema let the media know that he’d already let the SEC know that Auburn had edited the game tape they are required to send to Arkansas. That’s a no-no. And knowing how these programs run their video departments, we can also tell you that the chances of said editing being accidental are infintesimal.
According to Bielema:
“There are just some clips that haven’t — shall we say — the TV copy doesn’t match the film copy. And it’s something we have king of been aware of now for the last week and a half in getting our preparation. So we can use other film and stuff like that to make sure we are getting the full picture.”
Bielema saw Auburn use a “swinging gate” formation on a copy of a television broadcast. That clip was not on the game tape sent from Southeast Alabama up to Northwest Arkansas. “So if I hadn’t watched the TV copy, or if our guys hadn’t had the time to go back and review, we would have never known that to happen.”
Arkansas’ coach then tossed in this kicker:
“I know Gus stands for everything that’s right and (has) great faith in doing things right. So I’m sure it’s just a glitch they’ll get to the bottom of.”
Malzahn won’t hold a press conference of his own until today.
Meanwhile, the SEC said in a statement to ArkansasNews.com that “consistent with other discussions between coaches and league office personnel, we won’t comment on the situation.” The interesting point there? Bielema did talk about this issue publicly. SEC rules stipulate that if any team believes a video exchange violation has occurred “it should be reported immediately to the SEC supervisor of officials and not be discussed in the media.”
Expect Malzahn to follow SEC orders and dodge any questions about “Swinging Gate-gate” when he’s asked about it.
Feuding coaches is a storyline everyone enjoys. The fact that Malzahn — an Arkansas native who coached at Arkansas State last year — is returning to the Natural State makes this little dust-up all the more interesting.
Our outsider’s view: Bielema was a bit of a hothead in Birmingham and shouldn’t get fired up over what a reporter tells him another coach said. Malzahn and Auburn are way out of line intentionally doctoring game film, and if the film doesn’t match the TV copy, then there’s a 99.9% chance the snips were made on purpose.
So both coaches have been wrong. And two wrongs, in this case, make for the alright story of a new coaching rivalry in the Southeastern Conference.