ATLANTA (AP) – Gus Malzahn confronted to new questions about his future after Auburn's attempt to stop the playoffs.

Malzahn led the Tigers in fourth place (10-3, No. 2 CFP) in a late season loss in the Southeast Conference championship game on Saturday, where they lost 28-7 to Georgia's No. 6.

The uncertainty about Malzahn's plans is as much, if not more, a concern for Fans of the Tigers as the beating they took in the rematch of the title. [19659008] Malzahn has not explicitly addressed the reports in recent weeks that he is the main target to fill the vacancy of coaches in Arkansas, his home state.

"I'm happy in Auburn," Malzahn said. "We have great players, I love my players, as I said before this game, we work very hard to get here, and we have a very good built base, and I think the best is yet to come."

When asked If that meant the Razorbacks should not bother to follow him as Bret Bielema's replacement, he repeated his conviction, but still did not completely close the door.

"I'm the head coach of Auburn, and I just said I wanted to be Auburn's head coach," said Malzahn, a former Arkansas offensive coordinator. He also expressed optimism about the state of a program that is scheduled to return most of its key players, saying "I would not be surprised if we come back at this time next year."

Malzahn spent some time in the proverbial hot seat after a mid-season loss to LSU and after two 8-5 records and a 7-6 season. But the Tigers won five consecutive games to reach Atlanta, including victories over two teams that topped the playoff standings at the time, Georgia (12-1, No. 6 CFP) and Alabama. Then there was talk that he could leave on his own.

Malzahn received a one-year extension, but did not increase after last season. It earns $ 4,725 million a year in an agreement that runs until 2020.

The Auburn players generally denied hearing the Arkansas talks and said Malzahn had not spoken to the team. Runner Kerryon Johnson expressed the hope that his coach will stay.

"Gus Malzahn loves this school," Johnson said. "I love Gus Malzahn, if he leaves, he leaves, I do not think he does, but he's a grown man, he makes his own decisions, I can not predict the future, all I know is that he's our coach today. tomorrow and next year and every time I leave, he will be too. "

Quarterback Jarrett Stidham said the only mentions he has seen linking Malzahn and Arkansas have been on ESPN's scoreboard.

"I deleted Twitter at the beginning of the year," said Stidham. "I do not really hear anything outside of what happens in the locker room, in reality, or in our building, speculation is speculation, people have their own opinions, I have not heard anything.

" I think our future is very sparkly. I think we'll be back. "

Like Stidham, Johnson was a big part of Auburn's resurgence.The SEC leader was slowed down during the game by a right shoulder injury.He lost his first fumble of the year. last quarter and taken 13 times for 44 yards.

"The toughest guy I ever had," said offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.

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