Former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has agreed to become UCF’s next coach. Malzahn, 55, will replace Josh Heupel, who left to take the Tennessee job on Jan. 27 on the heels of former Knights athletic director Danny White accepting the same position with the Volunteers.
“I’m thrilled to be the head coach at UCF, and I’m truly looking forward to being part of Knight Nation,” Malzahn said in a statement. “It’s exciting to be head of a program where the future is extremely bright. I will be hitting the ground running in terms of getting to know our team and everyone else connected with UCF. Our goal is to be ready to win championships.”
Malzahn was 68-35 in eight seasons at Auburn from 2013-20. CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd previously reported the news of UCF zeroing in on Malzahn for its vacant position on Sunday night.
Malzahn twice won the SEC West at Auburn (2013, 2017) and came within 13 seconds of topping Florida State in the 2014 BCS Championship Game following the 2013 season. His teams earned a bowl bid every year on the Plains with three appearances in New Year’s Six/BCS bowls.
Auburn fired Malzahn after the Tigers went 6-4 this season. That mark included a road loss to a South Carolina team that went 2-8 and a 42-13 blowout defeat at the hands of rival Alabama. Despite that result, Malzahn’s Tigers topped the Crimson Tide three times during his eight seasons, including a 48-45 win to close out the 2019 regular season.
During his first stint at Auburn as its offensive coordinator (2009-11), Malzahn helped the program win the 2010 national championship. That national title team included quarterback Cam Newton — winner of the 2010 Heisman Trophy and No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
New UCF athletic director Terry Mohajir held the same position at Arkansas State from 2012-20. Malzahn led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record in his first season as a head coach in 2012. It was speculated upon Mohajir’s hiring that Malzahn could be a candidate for the Knights, but it was unknown whether he was interested in jumping into a new opportunity right away after departing Auburn.
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“When I started the search process, it became very evident very quickly that, based on the conversations I had with the players last week and what they told me were looking for, Gus Malzahn was the guy for the job,” Mohajir said. “He has won at every level, and he has coached a Heisman Trophy winner and NFL draft picks. There has never been a better time for Coach Malzahn to lead this program than right now.”
UCF is 41-8 over the last four seasons and has played in two New Year’s Six bowl games during that stretch.