Gus Malzahn

Update: Arkansas State confirms Malzahn hiring


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 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 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 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.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.