Louisville Coach Charlie Strong has emerged as the top candidate in Tennessee's search for a new head football coach, ESPN's Chris Low reported Tuesday night. ESPN's report stressed that no contract had been finalized.
Strong has been under pressure at Louisville after reports of his discussions with Tennessee and Auburn surfaced. Asked if he would return to Louisville in 2013, Strong said, "I will say that at the right time."
Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich has vowed to fight to keep Strong, who is 24-14 in three seasons.
Arkansas hires Wisconsin's coach
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Bret Bielema is taking his brand of power football to Arkansas, leaving Wisconsin after seven seasons.
Arkansas released a statement Tuesday saying Bielema has agreed to a deal to take over the program reeling following the firing of former coach Bobby Petrino.
A person familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information hasn't been released publicly, says the deal is for six years and $3.2 million annually.
The Razorbacks were 4-8 this year, and Athletic Director Jeff Long Long announced after the season that interim coach John L. Smith would not return.
Bielema was 68-24 with the Badgers, including a 17-14 win over Arkansas in the 2007 Capital One Bowl.
"He's the guy Jeff was after all along," the person said of Long. "It's hard to get these coaches to sit still."
Bielema seems likely to bring a far different approach than what the Razorbacks have become accustomed to. Arkansas continually ranked among the Southeastern Conference's best passing teams under Petrino while Bielema is known for his dominant offensive lines and slew of running backs.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball tied Barry Sanders' long-standing single-season record of 39 touchdowns last year, and this year became the all-time FBS leader in touchdowns.
The 42-year-old Bielema is in his seventh season as Barry Alvarez's hand-picked successor at Wisconsin. He's 68-24 with the Badgers with four double-digit win seasons, and he coached Wisconsin to a 17-14 win over Arkansas in his first season at the Capital One Bowl.
Malzahn gets Auburn job
Former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who led Cam Newton and the Tigers to a 14-0 season in 2010, was welcomed back with open arms Tuesday to become Auburn's 26th head coach following a one-year stop at Arkansas State.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to become the head football coach at Auburn. It's an outstanding institution with a storied football program that I had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand for three years," Malzahn said in a statement upon his hiring. "This is a homecoming for me and I look forward to being reunited with the Auburn family."
Malzahn replaces his former boss, Gene Chizik, who was fired nine days ago after Auburn's 3-9 season — the first year following Malzahn's departure.
In 2010, Newton won the Heisman Trophy under Malzahn, in an offense which set nine school records. Those included 41.2 points per game, 499.2 yards per game, 41 rushing touchdowns and 31 passing touchdowns.
In his first year as a head coach, Malzahn led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record and Sun Belt championship, winning his last seven games and leading Arkansas State to a GoDaddy.com Bowl berth.
Around the nation
Boston College: Steve Addazio was hired away from Temple to be the Eagles' next coach. Addazio went 13-11 in two seasons with the Owls since taking over for Al Golden in Philadelphia. Temple is coming off a 4-7 season.
Cincinnati: Coach Butch Jones was weighing his options upon returning to campus after two days of interviews at Purdue and Colorado. He declined to talk about his interviews or his future. "I'm still the coach here, that's all that matters," said Jones, who has a $1.4 million buyout if he leaves before Jan. 1.
Notre Dame: Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach. Notre Dame's defense under Diaco has allowed the fewest touchdowns in the country this season and is sixth overall in total defense.
Kansas State: Bill Snyder was a unanimous choice as the AP's Big 12 coach of the year. The 73-year-old coached the Wildcats to their second Big 12 title.
Hall of Fame inductees
Gabe Rivera, an All-American defensive lineman at Texas Tech who was left wheelchair-bound after a car accident in 1983 as an NFL rookie, was part of a class of 14 players and three coaches to be inducted into the Hall Tuesday night at the national Football Foundation banquet in Manhattan. Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer and former Miami coach Jimmy Johnson also were among the inductees.