Auburn Hires Malzahn as Coach

Gus Malzahn

Gus Malzahn has been named the new head football coach of the Auburn Tigers.

AUBURN, Ala. — The search for Auburn's new head football coach has come to an end. Gus Malzahn is the choice to replace Gene Chizik, who was fired following a disappointing 2012 season for the Tigers.

Auburn announced the move to bring in Malzahn on Tuesday. Sources at the school confirmed the news to Inside the Auburn Tigers earlier. Malzahn's contract is a five-year deal with $2.3 million per year, according to AU Athletic Director Jay Jacobs.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to become the head football coach at Auburn University. It's an outstanding institution with a storied football program that I had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand for three years," said Malzahn in a statement. "I deeply appreciate the confidence that (president) Dr. Gogue, (athletic director) Jay Jacobs and the search committee had in my ability to turn this program around and to bring Auburn back to national prominence.

"This is a homecoming for me, and I look forward to being reunited with the Auburn family."

Gus Malzahn was most recently head coach at Arkansas State.

Malzahn told Arkansas State officials on Tuesday that he is leaving Jonesboro after one season to return to Auburn, where he spent three seasons as offensive coordinator and coach of the quarterbacks.

A key figure on Auburn's 14-0 BCS national championship team in 2010 that featured QB Cam Newton and set numerous school offensive records, Malzahn coached from 2009-2011 under Chizik before being named head coach at Arkansas State in December 2011.

He stayed on at Auburn long enough to coach the Tigers to a victory in last season's Chick-Fil-A Bowl before heading to Arkansas State, where he led the Red Wolves to the Sun Belt Conference title this season.

A highly successful high school coach in the state of Arkansas, Malzahn led his teams to three state championships and seven finals appearances in 14 seasons. In the 2005 season at Springdale High, his Bulldogs posted a 14-0 record and outscored opponents, 664-118.

Then came his break in the college ranks at Arkansas in the 2006 season. As the offensive coordinator for the Razorbacks, Malzahn coached Heisman runner-up Darren McFadden and led an offense that finished fourth nationally in rushing, averaging 228.5 yards per game.

Before moving to Auburn for the 2009 season, Malzahn spent two seasons at Tulsa, coordinating a Golden Hurricane offense that finished first nationally in total offense for 2007 and 2008 seasons. Tulsa's offense in 2007 established nine team school records and 12 individual records.

The Golden Hurricane also set nine Conference USA team records while Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith broke an NCAA record by throwing for at least 300 yards in 14 consecutive games.

Gus Malzahn was at the helm of Auburn's national championship offense in 2010.

That season, Tulsa averaged 543.93 yards of total offense, 371 yards passing and 172.93 yards rushing per game while finishing sixth in scoring offense at 41.14 points per game. In 2008, the Golden Hurricane led the nation in total offense by averaging 569.86 yards per game. Tulsa finished fifth in rushing offense, averaging 268 yards per game, and ninth in passing offense at 301.86 yards. Averaging 47.21 points per game was good enough for second in the nation.

Malzahn's arrival at Auburn in 2009 and his style of offense marked a drastic turnaround from the 2008 season, in which the Tigers struggled to move the football and score points. In the first season, the Tigers improved from a tie for 110th (17.33 points per game) to 17th (33.31) in the nation in scoring offense and from 104th (302.92 yards per game) to 16th (431.77) in total offense. It also took Auburn just six games in 2009 to score more points than it did in all 12 games in 2008.

The biggest improvement came at the quarterback position as Chris Todd completed 198 of 328 passes for 2,612 yards and 22 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He threw a touchdown pass in nine of 13 games that season.

That set the stage for what was to come in 2010. With junior college transfer Cam Newton at the helm, an Auburn offense exploded on the way to a perfect 14-0 season and the BCS national championship.

The Auburn offense set nine school records, including points in a season (577), points per game (41.2), total yards (6,989), total offense (499.2), rushing yards (3,987), rushing touchdowns (41) and passing touchdowns (31). Malzahn's record-setting offense in 2010 led the Southeastern Conference and finished in the Top 10 nationally in six statistical categories.

On his way to being the top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton won the Heisman Trophy as the top college football player in America after throwing for 2,908 yards and 30 touchdowns and adding 1,586 yards and 20 more scores on the ground.

Gus Malzahn also coached quarterbacks for the Tigers.

In his final season at Auburn, Malzahn's offense struggled, replacing four starters on the offensive line, Newton and top receivers Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery. Auburn finished 70th in scoring offense, averaging 25.69 points per game, and still managed to average 182 yards per game on the ground. That was good enough for 32nd in the country.

Moving to Arkansas State in his first season as a head coach, Malzahn picked up where Hugh Freeze and his staff left off and took the offense even higher. Despite having to replace three starters on the offensive line and several talented skill players, the Red Wolves are averaging 481.5 yards per game this season, up 34.6 yards from 2011. They are also scoring 33.6 points per game as compared to 32.46 last year.

Currently 9-3 on the season with two losses coming at Oregon and at Nebraska, Malzahn led the Red Wolves to the Sun Belt Conference championship with a 45-0 victory over Middle Tennessee State in their regular-season finale. The Red Wolves are scheduled to play Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 6.

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