AUBURN - Auburn made it official Tuesday afternoon. Gus Malzahn has been named its 26th head football coach.
Gus Malzahn is Auburn's 26th head football coach
Athletics director Jay Jacobs made the announcement, and Malzahn welcomed the opportunity to return to the school that he helped win a national championship as offensive coordinator n 2010.
"I’m grateful for the opportunity to become the head football coach at Auburn University," Malzahn said in a statement. "It’s an outstanding institution with a storied football program that I had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand for three years. I deeply appreciate the confidence that Dr. (Jay) Gogue, 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.”
Malzahn left Auburn after the 2011 season to become head coach at Arkansas State. In his one season, the Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference championship at 9-3 overall and 7-1 in league play. They will play in the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile on Jan. 6.
“It’s a pleasure to welcome Gus back to Auburn, this time as our head football coach,” Auburn president Jay Gogue said. “We owe the search committee our gratitude for their time, expertise and dedication to Auburn. They are each distinguished graduates of this great institution and I'm grateful for their ongoing commitment. I appreciate them working so closely with Jay Jacobs as a team - a very good team.”
Jacobs said Malzahn is the right man at the right time for Auburn.
“We are tremendously excited that Gus Malzahn will be our next head football coach,” Jacobs said. “Coach Malzahn was the clear unanimous choice of our search committee, and I am pleased that Dr. Gogue has accepted our recommendation. This is a great day for Auburn football and Auburn University.”
Jacobs said the committee was impressed by Malzahn’s outstanding track record as a coach at every level he has coached.
“Gus Malzahn is a proven winner,” Jacobs said. “He is without question one of the brightest minds in college football and he has won everywhere he has been. Coach Malzahn knows what it takes to build a championship program in the Southeastern Conference. He knows our state and region and he understands what it will take to turn our program around. Coach Malzahn will also be an outstanding ambassador for Auburn University, and that was important to the committee.”
Jacobs thanked the search committee of former letter winner Mac Crawford and Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan for their service.
“I want to thank each member of the committee for their tireless effort in helping us find the right man to lead our football program and represent Auburn University,” Jacobs said. “They were objective, thorough and thoughtful throughout the entire process. Their one and only agenda was doing what is best for Auburn.”
Malzahn made an immediate impact during his tenure at Auburn, highlighted by a record-setting offense in 2010 when the Tigers finished 14-0 and claimed the school's first national championship since 1957. 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.
He coached Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton during the Tigers’ run to the 2011 BCS National Championship. Under Malzahn's direction, Newton later became the overall No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft after producing one of the best single-season quarterback performances in collegiate history.
He helped lead the Tigers to an 8-5 record in 2011, which included a victory in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Malzahn-led Auburn offense had four players named to the All-SEC Team.
Malzahn's arrival in 2009 and style of offense marked a drastic turnaround from the 2008 season when Auburn struggled offensively. In a two-year period, the Tigers improved from a tie for 110th to seventh in the nation in scoring offense (from 17.3 to 41.2) and from 104th to seventh 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.
Before coaching at Auburn, Malzahn spent two seasons at Tulsa, coordinating a Golden Hurricane offense that finished first nationally in total offense in 2007 and 2008. Tulsa's offense in 2007 established nine team school records and 12 individual records. The 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.
Prior to his time at Tulsa, he coached one season at Arkansas, where he served as offensive coordinator, coached Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden and helped the Razorbacks finish fourth nationally in rushing offense at 228.5 yards per game. Two of Malzahn's first three collegiate offenses ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing, including the 2008 Tulsa team and 2006 Arkansas squad.
Malzahn, 47, is married to the former Kristi Otwell and they are the parents of two daughters, Kylie (23) and Kenzie (20).