At SEC Media Days in July, we learned that Gus Malzahn and Bret Bielema, the SEC West's newest additions to the coaching ranks, do not always see eye-to-eye. Saturday's meeting between Auburn and Arkansas became even more interesting on Monday, when Bielema called the integrity of Auburn's game film into question.
"There are just some clips that haven't -- shall we say, the TV copy doesn't match the film copy," Bielema said Monday. "And it's something we have kind of been aware of now for the last week and 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 has filed a complaint with the SEC office, but the league does not comment publicly on issues regarding game film exchange. Brandon Marcello, of AL.com, reported that the league "did not have a major issue" with Auburn's film, and even suggested that Bielema might have broken a SEC rule by discussing the topic with the media.
Since their philosophical disagreement on whether hurry-up offenses lead to more injuries, the two coaches have different experiences in their first year as SEC head coaches. Auburn enters the game ranked No. 8 in the AP poll and No. 11 BCS standings, riding the momentum of back-to-back SEC wins against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Arkansas, on the other hand, has lost five straight and is still looking for its first conference win.
According to AL.com, Bielema specifically took issue with Auburn's omission of a wide angle view of one of the Tiger's two-point conversion sets. Against FAU, Auburn used the "swinging gate" formation, but attempted a field goal instead of going for two.
"So, if I hadn't watched the TV copy, or if our guys hadn't had a the time to go back and review, we would have never known that to happen," Bielama pointed out. "I'm sure it's a glitch. I'm 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 that they'll get to the bottom of."
Malzahn responded Tuesday, indicating that he was unaware of an issue before Bielema's comments. The Tigers coach did not address the accusation directly, but did say "the SEC office is aware of all the details on both sides."
"We'll always operate with the utmost integrity in everything we do," Malzahn said. "If there's ever anything I don't know about that's brought to my attention, we'll deal with it in a prompt manner. The SEC office is aware of all the details on both sides."
Malzahn's history with the Razorbacks, both as offensive coordinator and a Hall of Fame high school coach in the state, has made for an intriguing subplot in the back-and-forth with Bielema.
None of this is expected to come into play when the two teams meet on the field Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., but what would game week be in the SEC without a little coach drama?