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.”
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.