Malzahn gets Arkansas State job
Red Wolves will play Northern Illinois in GoDaddy.com Bowl
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is set to become the next coach at Arkansas State.
A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday night, confirming earlier reports, that Malzahn will return to the state where he made a name for himself as a high school coach before leaving for college football.
Arkansas State has scheduled a 3:30 p.m. news conference on Wednesday to introduce its new coach. Former Red Wolves coach Hugh Freeze left the school last week to become the new coach at Mississippi.
Arkansas State (10-2) will play Northern Illinois in the Godaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 8.
The 46-year-old Malzahn served as Auburn’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for three seasons, helping the Tigers win the national championship last season.
He won the Broyles Award last season, recognizing college football’s top assistant coach, helping Auburn and quarterback Cam Newton set nine school records in 2010 -- including points per game (41.2) and total offense (499.2).
Malzahn began his coaching career in northeast Arkansas at Hughes High School, eventually moving on and winning two state championships at the private school Shiloh Christian in Springdale, Ark.
He later took over at Springdale High in the state’s largest classification, going 14-0 in 2005 and winning the state championship while finishing in the top five in most national high school polls.
That team featured star players such as former USC quarterback Mitch Mustain and Tennessee Titans receiver Damian Williams.
Malzahn brought Mustain and Williams with him to Arkansas when he was hired as the offensive coordinator there for the 2006 season under then-coach Houston Nutt.
After a conflict filled season with Nutt behind the scenes, one that led to the transfers of Mustain and Williams to USC, Malzahn left for the same position at Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane had one of the nation’s top offenses for two seasons under Malzhan, who was hired at Auburn before the 2009 season.
Arkansas State won 10 games this season under Freeze for the first time since 1986, when it was a member of the I-AA Southland Conference. The Red Wolves were 45-63 in nine seasons before that under former coach Steve Roberts.
The school promoted a “Feel the Freeze” ticket campaign in the preseason, named for the former Memphis, Tenn., high school coach who was mostly known as the high school coach for left tackle Michael Oher, who was later featured in the best-selling book and popular movie “The Blind Side.”
The wins quickly followed, with Arkansas State securing an undefeated run through the Sun Belt Conference with a 45-14 win over Troy. The Red Wolves’ only losses this season came to Illinois and Virginia Tech.