Gus Malzahn returns to Auburn as head coach

Gus Malzahn knows what it takes to win at Auburn, and now he’ll get his opportunity to do it as the guy in charge. 

Amid a flurry of coaching moves Tuesday afternoon, Malzahn, who just completed his first season as head coach at Arkansas State, officially accepted the Tigers’ head coaching job.

Auburn fired coach BCS championship-winning coach Gene Chizik last month after a disappointing 4-8 campaign.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to become the head football coach at Auburn University. It’s an outstanding institution with a storied football program that I had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand for three years,” said Malzahn in a statement. “I deeply appreciate the confidence that (president) Dr. Gogue, (athletic director) 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 was Chizik’s offensive coordinator for the 2010 national title, orchestrating Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton’s offense to an undefeated season. Chizik was a career 8-28 head coach without Malzahn in his corner.

Newton became the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Malzahn, after sticking around for the 2011 season, left to take the Arkansas State job this past offseason. 

The Red Wolves finished 9-3 and earned a spot in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. 

It is unclear whether Malzahn plans to coach in the bowl game. 

Malzahn’s rise to through the SEC coaching ranks has been a quick one. He was coaching high school games in Arkansas as recently as 2006 at powerhouse Springdale High School, before taking assistants’ jobs at Arkansas, Tulsa and then Auburn.

Now, with four seasons of SEC seasoning and one year of head coaching experience, the 47-year-old takes a job in the nation’s preeminent conference.

“We are tremendously excited that Gus Malzahn will be our next head football coach,” Jacobs said in the university release. “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.”