JONESBORO, AR (WSFA) - Gus Malzahn is leaving Auburn University and has signed a contract to be the head coach at Arkansas State University in the Sun Belt Conference.
Malzahn is apparently taking a pay cut to take over the Red Wolves. The deal reportedly is for five years at $850,000 per year. He was one of the nation's highest-paid assistant coaches this past season at Auburn, earning $1.3 million.
That would be a huge increase from what Arkansas State paid its previous coach, Hugh Freeze, who's now the head coach at Ole Miss. Freeze was making $200,000, the lowest paid coach in Division 1.
Malzahn spent the past three years at Auburn, where his offense maximized Cam Newton's talents on the way to the national championship last season. But this season, with Newton gone, the "Malzahn magic" was missing.
He won the Broyles Award in 2010 as the nation's top assistant coach, as Auburn won the BCS title. He turned down multi-million dollar offers to become head coach at Vanderbilt and at Maryland to stay with the Tigers.
The 46-year old Malzahn is a native of Fort Smith, Ark. He was a high school coach in Arkansas for 14 years, leading his teams to the state finals seven times, and to state titles three times.
He was offensive coordinator at Arkansas for one season, at Tulsa for two years, and at Auburn for the past three seasons.
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said of Malzahn, "I'm very happy for Gus and the opportunity that awaits him at Arkansas State. Gus has always had the strong desire to become a head coach and the chance for him to return to his home state that he is so familiar with, will be very beneficial. He's meant a tremendous amount to our program the past three years, helping our offense and our program achieve unprecedented heights, winning a BCS National Championship and setting countless offensive records. Gus has experienced success in each stop of his coaching career and I have no doubt that he will have similar results at Arkansas State. We look forward to having Gus stay with us through the bowl game and hope to send him out with a victory."