Update: Arkansas State confirms Malzahn hiring

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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.

Charles Woodson: Michigan isn’t putting emphasis on Ohio State game like they should

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Since retiring from the NFL, Charles Woodson has become increasingly vocal about his alma mater. Not only has the Michigan alum shouted out his love for the Wolverines, he’s also not shy in calling out the team after a few years of sub-par results — particularly when it comes to the game against their heated rival Ohio State.

You can add another chapter for Woodson in that matter over the weekend as the Heisman Trophy winner did not mince words in calling out how ‘The Game’ is being treated by some in Ann Arbor.

“You know what, to be quite honest, I really feel like in recent years there hasn’t been the emphasis I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday. “Every game has been put on the same level as that game. That’s not the way we were brought up. Not the way we were raised around here.

“We had no shame in saying (we were going to beat Ohio State). And every time I watch our teams in recent years, it’s ‘oh, it’s another game.’ It’s not.”

Woodson has already guaranteed a victory over the Buckeyes this spring at a commencement speech he gave to UM graduates and has been vocal about the program getting back to the position he had it in back in the late 1990’s when they were winning titles and — most importantly — beating Ohio State. The Wolverines have never beaten Urban Meyer since he arrived in Columbus and have just two wins in the series in the past 15 tries. Jim Harbaugh, who is certainly familiar with beating OSU as a player, is 0-3 against the Buckeyes as head coach.

It goes without saying that the team is very much aware of the current six-game losing streak they have against their chief rival and, given everything that has gone on this offseason, could be in their best position in years to get a win when the two meet in Columbus this November. However, Woodson might be getting a text message or phone call from Harbaugh to tone down the rhetoric just a tad given that he’s writing a check the players will have to cash.

Certainly everybody in Ann Arbor knows how big ‘The Game’ is to the school and will be emphasizing a win this year more than ever even without the extra push from one of the all-time greats in maize and blue.

WATCH: Paralyzed Georgetown football player walks across the stage at graduation

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You probably have never heard of TY Williams the football player but what the former Georgetown linebacker did this weekend at the school will surely bring a tear to your eyes.

Williams injured his spinal cord in a game back in September 2015 and suffered a fractured vertebra that left him partially paralyzed. Despite that, he followed up years of rehab on the injury to walk across the stage at the Hoyas’ graduation ceremony on Saturday to receive his degree from the university.

Boy, it sure is a little dusty up in here after watching that. Congrats to Williams and his family on an incredible achievement.

Ohio State led nation for total fan attendance in 2017, Michigan tops in average attendance at home

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In some not exactly breaking news, there are a lot of Ohio State fans out there. Not to be left out, their rivals to the North have quite a few people following the team in maize and blue too.

The National Football Foundation released an interesting set of facts and figures last week that was designed to call attention to just how popular the sport of college football is across the country. The whole list is worth a look if you’re interested in all the little details about the 2017 season but a few of the big highlights are:

  • Ohio State led the nation for total fan attendance, attracting 1,254,160 spectators to all of their games in 2017, including home, away, neutral and postseason tilts. Eleven other teams eclipsed the million mark in 2017: Georgia (1,246,201), Alabama (1,228,376), Auburn, Penn State, Michigan, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Clemson and Texas.
  • Michigan led all FBS schools again with an average attendance of 111,589 fans per home game in 2017. Three other schools also averaged more than 100,000 fans per game: Ohio State (107,495), Penn State (106,707) and Alabama (101,722). The Wolverines have led the nation in home attendance for 41 of the past 43 seasons.
  • The SEC led all FBS conferences in attendance for the 20th straight year, averaging 75,074 fans per game or a total of 7,357,228 in 2017, followed by the Big Ten (66,227), Big 12 (56,852), Pac-12 (49,601) and the ACC (48,442).
  • The overall attendance for NCAA football games across all divisions (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III) drew 47,622,196 fans at home games, neutral-site games and postseason games in 2017. The number represents a 3.3 percent drop from the 2016 season.

There’s a bunch more in there from the NFF on everything from TV ratings to fan interest and a bunch of other nuggets. Needless to say, college football is pretty popular around the country and we at CFTalk certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Andrew Ward becomes latest Nebraska player to announce plans to transfer

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Everybody figured that Scott Frost’s arrival with a new way of doing things in Lincoln would prompt a few transfers out of the program but the latest name to leave Nebraska is on the defensive side of the ball as linebacker Andrew Ward became the latest name to announce a transfer after just a year with the Cornhuskers.

As Ward mentions in his post, he was originally recruited to the school by the prior coaching staff under Mike Riley. He redshirted as a freshman in 2017 and seemed to fall down the pecking order at his position during spring practice. Originally from Michigan, the linebacker was rated as a three-star coming out of high school according to 247Sports and held offers from Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.

Ward adds to the growing list of roster turnover this offseason for the Cornhuskers. Also on Saturday it was confirmed that center Michael Decker was retiring from football, while wideout Kenyan Williams, fullback Ben Miles, quarterback Patrick O’Brien, and receiver Zack Darlington all announced intentions to leave the program.