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Update: Arkansas State confirms Malzahn hiring

Gus Malzahn AP

UPDATED 12/14/2011 @ 8:11 a.m. ET: In a press release, Arkansas State confirmed that Gus Malzahn has been hired as its new head coach.  A 4:30 p.m. ET press conference will be held Wednesday to officially introduce the Auburn offensive coordinator.

There’s no official word as of yet whether Malzahn will coordinate the Tigers’ offense in the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Virginia.

UPDATED 12/14/2011 @ 10:51 a.m. ET: Head coach Gene Chizik confirmed in a statement that Malzahn will stay with the Tigers through AU’s bowl game.

“I’m very happy for Gus and the opportunity that awaits him at Arkansas State. Gus has always had the strong desire to become a head coach and the chance for him to return to his home state that he is so familiar with, will be very beneficial. He’s meant a tremendous amount to our program the past three years, helping our offense and our program achieve unprecedented heights, winning a BCS National Championship and setting countless offensive records. Gus has experienced success in each stop of his coaching career and I have no doubt that he will have similar results at Arkansas State. We look forward to having Gus stay with us through the bowl game and hope to send him out with a victory.”

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Exactly one year ago today, it was reported that Gus Malzahn had turned down an offer in the neighborhood of $3 million to become the head coach at Vanderbilt.

Fast-forward 365 days, and the Auburn offensive coordinator is reportedly set to become a head coach at a non-automatic qualifying conference school.  For about a fifth of what he turned down from Vandy.  And for around 50-percent less than what he’s making now as a coordinator.

Yet that’s where things apparently stand at the moment, with ArkansasSports360.com reporting that Arkansas State has extended an offer to Malzahn to become its next head football coach.  Another website takes it a step further, with NationalFootballAuthority.com reporting that the Arkansas native “will be the next head coach of the Arkansas State Red Wolves”.

That website reports that Malzahn will make $750,000 annually; in a previous story no longer accessible on the site, NFA reported that Malzahn would receive $600,000 a year.

Earlier this morning, citing people familiar with the search, the Birmingham News reported that Malzahn is on ASU’s short list to replace Hugh Freeze, who left the Red Wolves last week for the Ole Miss job.  Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com was told in the same timeframe that Malzahn had received an offer from ASU.

Messages left by CFT for Malzahn’s representation, AU and ASU seeking comment have yet to be returned.

This is not exactly the first speculative rodeo for Malzahn, though.  In addition to Vandy job last year, the coordinator also interviewed for the Maryland vacancy in 2010 and was reported to be the front-runner for the North Carolina job as well as a candidate for the Kansas opening this year.

If Malzahn does leave for ASU, it would mean head coach Gene Chizik would be forced to replace both of his coordinators before next season as, earlier this month, Ted Roof left for the same position at another school.  That departure was the first Tigers coaching head-scratcher as Roof left AU for UCF.

Regardless, there’s something extremely, well, odd going on down on The Plains when it comes to the top lieutenants on Chizik’s coaching staff.  It’s puzzling to think that a head coach could lose both of his coordinators to “lesser” jobs in the span of a week, even if one is a head-coaching opportunity, if everything was coming up puppy dogs and rainbows within the program.

UPDATED 10:09 p.m. ET: The Birmingham News is reporting that Malzahn will become the next head coach at Arkansas State, with a press conference expected to take place Wednesday.  Per the News, Malzahn’s contract with the Red Wolves is expected to average $850,000 annually.

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22 Responses to “Update: Arkansas State confirms Malzahn hiring”
  1. kjl131313 says: Dec 13, 2011 10:09 PM

    Guess you really don’t know much about Auburn football. The defense in the last three years has been horrible. Another 300 yards and this will go down as the worst defense in the history of Auburn football allowing 405 yards a game. So Ted Roof knew he was going to get fired soon. And our offense this year was horrible in the 100s so Malzahn is realizing might be good to jump ship before people realize that his offense does not work without a running quarterback.

  2. vols84 says: Dec 13, 2011 10:21 PM

    Turned down $3M from Vandy and now taking Arkansas state? This is very odd.

  3. fitz66 says: Dec 13, 2011 10:37 PM

    One more year without Cam “Cash Money” Newton and he’s not a HC prospect at all. Better to jump on it now while there’s someone out there who doesn’t think he’s overrated.

  4. Brian Basher says: Dec 13, 2011 10:45 PM

    I think it’s a great hire for ASU, but even though he’s from Arkansas if Malzahn is successful he’ll be another one and done. Not the way to build a program with SMU and Houston leaving Conference USA maybe ASU can wiggle their way in

  5. mjrcu says: Dec 13, 2011 11:05 PM

    Good for Malzahn…I’m guessing he really wanted to go home and if he cares about that over lesser money, than I respect him a lot, maybe not so odd…

  6. pastortodd78 says: Dec 13, 2011 11:15 PM

    Malzahn bypasses $3 million a year ago and winds up at Arkansas St for $850,000.00. That alone shows he is over-rated as an offensive tenuous.

  7. pastortodd78 says: Dec 13, 2011 11:16 PM

    Should be offensive genius. Hard to post comments using iPhone app.

  8. htown62 says: Dec 14, 2011 12:14 AM

    Options then and now, take the Vandy job and be in the SEC with a bottom feeder program outside of your recruiting area .. OR .. go back home where you are known and can recruit well, assemble a staff and team that can compete well in the sun belt for 2-3 years and wait for the good top conference offers to start rolling in. It’s a gamble but so are most big career moves.

  9. bamasleeper13 says: Dec 14, 2011 1:08 AM

    AUBURN,LOL!

  10. jc327 says: Dec 14, 2011 1:48 AM

    Actually, I kinda get it. Vandy can sure be a spoiler but for the most part is a perennial whipping boy for the SEC, along with Kentucky. Arkansas State is coming off a good year under Hugh Freeze, the pieces are there for a nice next few years and possibly a stepping stone into a better job. Auburn is not what they were with Newton, and I have a feeling that in about 2 years (if that) Chizik is going to start catching Hell…

  11. blackmike2 says: Dec 14, 2011 2:04 AM

    jc327, i was along with everything you wrote until the last clause of that last sentence. somewhere out there there are some young offensive and defensive “geniuses” just waiting a chance for a big-time stage. auburn can give it to them, and chizik will be able to recognize them. these moves will soon work out well for auburn.

  12. jc327 says: Dec 14, 2011 2:22 AM

    You could very well be right… time will tell.

  13. vols84 says: Dec 14, 2011 7:19 AM

    James Franklin has Vandy playing good football. A job Gus turned down and now is in the sun belt conference. I think if you can win at Vandy, you are going to shine more than if you win at a Sun Belt school. If Franklin keeps this up, his name will be on the short list for most major job openings. Did someone say it’s easier to recruit to Jonesboro? WOW. By the way Gus is from the other side of the state.

  14. tubaplayingprof says: Dec 14, 2011 8:22 AM

    As someone who once turned down a job that only offered me more money, I can’t say why he turned down Vandy. But not everyone thinks money first. Cue the quick thumb’s down for any suggestion that life isn’t always about the paycheck.

  15. thefiesty1 says: Dec 14, 2011 9:50 AM

    Most coaches could live on $850k a year and he’s back in Arkansas close enough to home in Springdale. Other coaches making over a million are grossly overpaid.

  16. florida727 says: Dec 14, 2011 10:33 AM

    “Fast-forward 365 days, and the Auburn offensive coordinator is reportedly set to become a head coach at a non-automatic qualifying conference school. For about a fifth of what he turned down from Vandy. And for around 50-percent less than what he’s making now as a coordinator.”

    —————————————————-

    He was making $1.7 at Auburn?

    Goes back to my post on a different story… interesting question, at least in my mind: better to be an OC at a perennial national power, or a head coach at a non-AQ school? (I know, I know, you could question the ‘perennial national power’ phrase. Originally it was a question regarding the OC at ‘Bama, who’s also leaving.)

  17. burntorangehorn says: Dec 14, 2011 11:10 AM

    jc327 says:Dec 14, 2011 1:48 AM

    Actually, I kinda get it. Vandy can sure be a spoiler but for the most part is a perennial whipping boy for the SEC, along with Kentucky. Arkansas State is coming off a good year under Hugh Freeze, the pieces are there for a nice next few years and possibly a stepping stone into a better job. Auburn is not what they were with Newton, and I have a feeling that in about 2 years (if that) Chizik is going to start catching Hell…
    ==========================
    Exactly, and in addition to all that, Malzahn knows Arkansas inside and out, as those are his old stomping grounds. He has a lot of credibility in the area, and I would be surprised if the guy didn’t take ASU up a few more notches before his next stop, if he wants one. I’m guessing he does, and if he wants it to be local, places like Arkansas (might be bad blood from the Mustain/Nutt era, though), Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and maybe even KU, K-State, or aggieland might make sense at that point.

  18. christopher525 says: Dec 14, 2011 12:05 PM

    Malzahn is a good coach, and is from the Arkasas area. He couldn’t land the Razorbacks, so he took the other team in state. Now he can get to work building his own legacy, if he plays it right he could try making this school into something. I will be watching this team closely now. I’ve felt that Gus was the only coach on the Auburn staff that was worth anything. You have to look at it as this, the man was already a coaching legend to people in Arkansas, Nutt snapped him up to land 4 top players one year, now he’s going back to a place where he’s well known, and pretty well liked. He can recruit like crazy in that state. I hope this works out well.

  19. soflatrojan says: Dec 14, 2011 2:11 PM

    Nice pickup for Arkansas State.

  20. cfbfaninbadnfltown says: Dec 14, 2011 6:12 PM

    This seems like a real step down for Malzahn the Sun Belt really? If he wanted to be head coach of a team never destined to win a championship, I here the Jags & Fins are hiring.

  21. gatorprof says: Dec 15, 2011 6:03 AM

    Look no further than his wife’s mouth…

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/982926-gus-malzahn-did-wifes-rant-kick-auburn-oc-out-the-door

  22. gatorprof says: Dec 15, 2011 9:40 AM

    Gus was on his way out of Auburn. His stock was dropping as a HC candidate as both he and his wife are viewed as a potential liability/embarrassment. It is much better for him to go back to Ark, out of the limelight of the SEC, and just coach…which he is very good at.

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