ATLANTA -- Gus Malzahn just wants to be at a place where he is loved. Whether that is Auburn or, ahem, some other place is the question on the clock.
Sources close to Malzahn here over the weekend indicated that a possible departure to Arkansas is realistic though not necessarily a done deal.
"Arkansas is dead serious," said a different source close to the situation. "They want him in the worst way."
One figure tossed around, according to the source, $50 million for seven years. (For context, Jimbo Fisher just received $75 million over 10 from Texas A&M.)
Malzahn, those sources say, is frustrated at the always-shifting perceptions of him at Auburn. After five seasons on The Plains, he is one of only a handful of coaches to have beaten Nick Saban twice.
After a second Iron Bowl win last week, the Tigers played for the SEC title for the second time in five years. A three-touchdown loss to Georgia won't help change the direction of those fickle winds at Auburn.
Who is his boss with the departure of athletic director Jay Jacobs? What exactly does Malzahn have to do to please Auburn fans?
There was at least one report last week that Malzahn representatives had made a proposal to Auburn for a new deal. But reports out of Arkansas continue to indicate that Arkansas wants Malzahn badly. ESPN's Mark Schlabach said Arkansas is ready "to back up the truck."
A source tells our own Barrett Sallee that Arkansas expects a decision by end of day Sunday.
Malzahn remained cagey with his postgame comments on Saturday.
"Yeah, I'm happy at Auburn," he told reporters. "We have great players. I love my players. As I said before this game, we worked extremely hard to get here to this point, and we've got a very good foundation built, and I think the best is yet to come."
Asked directly if Arkansas "should not bother asking you," Malzahn responded, "I'm the head coach at Auburn, and I just said I want to be the head coach at Auburn."
Will you be next season?
"I want to be," the coach said.
Malzahn is 45-21 in his five seasons at Auburn. He was a highly successful high school coach in the Fayetteville, Arkansas, area before becoming Arkansas' offensive coordinator under Houston Nutt in 2006.