It's apparent Gus Malzahn never was going to be the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Perhaps he saw the handwriting on the wall during his one tumultuous year as the UA offensive coordinator in 2006. He was about as welcome on the staff as a positive coronavirus test.
The team won that season, going 10-4 and making it to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., where ironically the Razorbacks lost to Bret Bielema and Wisconsin.
The coaches lost.
Not to drag up a lot of ancient history, but then-Athletic Director Frank Broyles basically insisted Houston Nutt hire Malzahn, who was the Springdale High School head coach.
Broyles, an undisputed visionary, saw change coming in football, and he wanted to be early to the party with the hurry-up offense.
Nutt wanted to keep calling the plays.
It became obvious during the season there was a deep rift, and the offense was more Nutt than Malzahn. In Nutt's defense, he did have Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis -- all future NFL running backs -- toting the note.
The Razorback fan base was split, and Malzahn left after the season to become offensive coordinator at Tulsa. A year later, Nutt was off to Ole Miss with millions of dollars worth of golden handcuffs thanks to then-Chancellor John White.
Flash forward to 2011, and Malzahn is the head coach of Arkansas State University when Bobby Petrino is fired at Arkansas. But Malzahn had been on the job just a few months and hadn't even coached a game yet. He went 9-3 at ASU in 2012, which got him the Auburn job.
Then there was the fiasco of 2017 when Chancellor Joe Steinmetz appointed Julie Cromer interim AD. She had no experience hiring football coaches.
Cromer got in touch with super agent Jimmy Sexton, who represents Malzahn.
Cromer is smart and driven, and she's now the Ohio University athletic director. But she knew little about Sexton and the coaching game.
She spent days dealing with Sexton, not knowing Sexton was doing what he does as well as any agent in the world. And he totally understands the SEC.
Sexton was negotiating with Auburn while using the Arkansas job as leverage.
Not that he really needed it.
That season, Malzahn and the Tigers dominated Alabama in a 26-14 win, which for Auburn fans is about as good as a national title.
Malzahn would sign a seven-year, $49 million contract with the Tigers, and Chad Morris was next up for Arkansas.
Actually, everyone should understand how that job search played out for Cromer. Arkansas was not exactly a coaching destination for most of the established head coaches.
Nutt was pushed out (yes, with a pot of Hog gold), and Petrino was fired. Interim coach John L. Smith was released as soon as possible, then Bielema was fired.
That doesn't spell job security.
Back to Malzahn, who is 63-32 with the Tigers. If he is terminated after this season, he would walk away with $21 million, or 75%, of what remains on that $49 million contract.
He made the right financial decision.
Not sure about a career one, though.
If he came to Arkansas -- although he may never believe this -- that one crazy year under Nutt would have been forgotten.
It is highly doubtful Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek considered Malzahn in December. Yurachek is very focused, and wasting his and the search committee's time would not have been focused.
After several years, several firings and tons of frustration in the football program, it appears the right man for the job was found at Arkansas.