UCF offers head football coaching job to Gus Malzahn

UCF offers head football coaching job to Gus Malzahn

UCF has offered Gus Malzahn its head football coaching job, a source confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel Sunday night.

Malzahn, 55, spent the past eight seasons as coach at Auburn, where he led the Tigers to a 68-35 overall record and a 39-27 mark in the SEC. He was fired on Dec. 13 following a 6-4 campaign and a third-place finish in the SEC West.

It’s unclear whether Malzahn will accept the UCF offer. Malzahn was linked to the job as soon as UCF hired athletics director Terry Mohajir, who worked with Malzahn at Arkansas State. 247Sports.com’s Jason Beede was the first to report the offer.

Malzahn would replace Josh Heupel, who left to take over as the Tennessee Volunteers’ head coach on Jan. 27, following former Knights athletics director Danny White.

Malzahn led Auburn to an appearance in the BCS national championship game in 2013, losing 34-31 to Florida State in the Rose Bowl. He also guided the Tigers to a New Year’s Six Access Bowl appearance in 2018, with the Tigers ironically losing to UCF in the Peach Bowl.

Before his time at Auburn, he led Arkansas State to a 9-3 record in 2012 and a Sun Belt Conference title in his only season with the Red Wolves. He was hired by the Red Wolves shortly before Mohajir took over the Arkansas State AD job.

Malzahn is known for his no-huddle hurry-up offenses. His first season at Arkansas State, the Red Wolves finished ranked No. 26 (34.9 points per game) in the Football Bowl Subdivision in scoring offense.

The next year at Auburn, the Tigers’ offense ranked No. 12 in the nation. But the program was never able to match that success, finishing no higher than No. 25 in 2017 and No. 88 in 2020.

The Knights have gone 47-15 (76%) since 2016, including a school-record 25-game win streak during 2017-18. Along the way, the program has claimed back-to-back American Athletic Conference titles (2017-18) while earning consecutive appearances in the New Year’s Six Access Bowl games .

But the program has slipped in recent years, losing seven games during the past two seasons, including a 6-4 mark in 2020. Six of the seven losses have been by a combined 19 points, with the 49-23 loss to BYU in the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl being the program’s first double-digit loss since 2016.

Mohajir, who was introduced as UCF’s new athletics director on Feb. 10, said one of his first priorities was finding a head football coach.

“I met with the football team today and one of the players asked me, ‘Do you think you can find a coach within the next month?’ And I said, ‘I hope so or they’re going to fire me,’” Mohajir recalled. “I told them I didn’t want them to get married to any one person or somebody out there. ‘You need to let me know what you think we need to do better.’”

Mohajir said he planned to go “dark” for a couple of days to do more research and narrow the list of coaching candidates. Once that’s happened, he planned to present candidates to school president Alexander Cartwright.

“He’s an equal partner in this, so when I bring a candidate to him, it’s somebody I believe I’m prepared to hire,” Mohajir said.

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