—UPDATE: Wednesday, July 17, 5:10 p.m. EDT—
The SEC is already full of rivalries and another one may have just been born between Arkansas and Auburn at the 2013 SEC Media Days.
In response to Gus Malzahn's comments earlier on Wednesday, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema fired back with a passionate defense of his beliefs on the up-tempo injury debate.
Told about Malzahn's "joke" statement, Bielema says "I'm not a comedian."— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) July 17, 2013
Bret Bielema and Gus Malzahn seems to have picked each other as dance partners this wk.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) July 17, 2013
Nearly every coach at the 2013 SEC Media Days has been asked to speak on the potential dangers that come with playing a no-huddle offense, and new Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was no different.
Except while most coaches glossed over the question, Malzahn jumped to defend his up-tempo style, saying he though it was a joke that fast offenses cause more injury.
Gus on Bielema's claim players will get hurt running no-huddle: "When I first heard that, I thought it was a joke."— Hugh Kellenberger (@HKellenbergerCL) July 17, 2013
In June, new Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema proposed a rule change that would mandate a 15-second substitution period for defenses after every first down, as reported by Joel Erickson of AL.com.
In addition to attacking that idea, Malzahn took it a step further and compared that concept to slowing down defenses by preventing blitzes after first down.
Malzahn obviously not for rules to slow down tempo offenses: "That's like saying the defense shouldn't blitz after a first down…"— bradlocke (@bradlocke) July 17, 2013
That was a bold statement for an offensive-minded coach at his first media day in the defensively-dominated Southeastern Conference.
Malzahn is considered to be one of the fathers of the "wildcat" and hurry-up offenses.
So far in his career, the Fort Smith, Ark., native has led high-octane attacks as an offensive coordinator at Tulsa and Arkansas and as the head coach at Arkansas State.
Additionally, he was the offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2010 when the Tigers won the national title.
Now back at Auburn, he'll have an uphill battle as the Tigers will be looking to rebound from a 3-9 regular season and a winless (0-8) SEC slate.
When he was asked about making that turnaround at the SEC media days, he replied with one of the best one-liners of the day, saying that he had to do his best Dr. Phil impression to repair some psychological scarring.
Gus Malzahn on last year's 0-8: "When we first got there, we had to do some Dr. Phil-ing. There were some mental scars."— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) July 17, 2013
Once the summer is over and the season begins, Malzahn's players will have to stand up off his couch and take the field to actually make those improvements.
In order to do so, the Auburn boss will lean on his up-tempo offense—no matter what Bielema has to say about it.