The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

December 4, 2012

AP source: Auburn hires Gus Malzahn as head coach

AUBURN, Ala. — —  Auburn has hired Gus Malzahn as head coach and will introduce him on Tuesday, said a person familiar with the decision.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the school had not announced the hire.

Auburn was looking for a coach to revive a program that made an unprecedented fall two years after winning a national title with Cam Newton operating Malzahn’s high-powered offense to perfection.

Malzahn was the offensive coordinator during the Tigers’ 2010 national championship run in 2010, but spent last season at Arkansas State in his first college head coaching position.

He led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record, a Sun Belt Conference title and a berth in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

Malzahn returns with his fast-paced, no-huddle offensive style. He replaces Gene Chizik, who was fired one day after a 49-0 loss to No. 2 Alabama to complete a 3-9 season.

The Tigers had the nation’s 115th-ranked offense last season, averaging 305 yards a game. The Red Wolves were ranked 19th in total yards.

It’s the second straight time Auburn has turned to one of its coordinators from an unbeaten team. Chizik ran the defense for the 13-0 team in 2004 but was hired by the Tigers despite a 5-19 record in two seasons at Iowa State.

Auburn owes more than $11 million in buyouts to Chizik and his coaching staff. Malzahn’s contract and salary information was immediately available.

The NCAA has also been investigating the recruitment of signee Jovon Robinson, who was ruled ineligible after a guidance counselor admitted to creating a fake transcript.

The Tigers badly struggled in a transition to Scot Loeffler’s pro-style last season, starting three quarterbacks.

Auburn was ranked in the top seven in rushing, total and scoring offense in 2010 and Newton won the Heisman Trophy in his lone season out of the junior college ranks. It was the Tigers’ first national title since 1957.

Without Newton, the Tigers slipped to 100th in total offense in 2011 and then dipped even further.

The hiring reunites Malzahn with the quarterback he recruited out of Arkansas. Kiehl Frazier was benched last season after struggling as the starter. He was USA Today’s national offensive player of the year as a high school senior.

Malzahn had been earning $1.3 million a year for the Tigers after interviewing with Vanderbilt after the national championship season. He took a substantial pay cut to join the head coaching ranks with the Sun Belt Conference team.

Malzahn also made a couple of decisions with players that didn’t pan out. Tailback Mike Dyer transferred from Auburn — where he was suspended — to Arkansas State. He was dismissed in July after a state trooper found marijuana and a gun in a car the national title game MVP was driving.

 

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