Speaking Out: A Roundup Of Early Reaction To Arkansas State Hiring Auburn's Gus Malzahn

by Chris Bahn  on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 8:10 am  

Gus Malzahn leaving Auburn for Arkansas State has sparked reaction throughout college football media.

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Gus Malzahn to Arkansas State is happening.

Malzahn, the Auburn offensive coordinator, will be named the Red Wolves head coach at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. A press conference is set for the ASU Convocation Center.

Before the official announcement, the move already has garnered regional and national media reaction. Below we offer a Speaking Out roundup of reaction to Malzahn’s move:


In what might be the most surprising hire of the 2011 coaching carousel, Arkansas State has hired away coveted Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn as the Red Wolves' new head football coach.

Barrett Sallee, College Football News

You will hear a lot of talk that Malzahn’s decision is an indication that Auburn is a “sinking ship.” That’s also lazy. This is more about ego.

The pace of Auburn’s offense — which is a point of pride for Malzahn — clearly slowed down before Auburn’s win over South Carolina, after it became obvious that the defense clearly couldn’t handle the quick turnarounds. The more conservative approach worked vs. the Gamecocks, but as the season progressed, that plan backfired. Not only was the defense awful, but the offense became equally as listless.

Is Arkansas State the caliber of job as Vanderbilt? No. Malzahn made a bad decision passing on bigger jobs last offseason, and he’ll probably be the first to admit that. But that doesn’t mean that this job in and of itself is baffling. It’s a head coaching job where he can find out if he’s capable of doing this on the FBS level, and it’s in his home state of Arkansas. You can never underestimate the importance of going home.


Four things may be at play here:

1.  Malzahn — a Fort Smith native — wants to get back to his Arkansas roots.

2.  Malzahn truly believes ASU gives him the best chance to win and further his career.

3.  Malzahn realizes that his stock has fallen since Cam Newton departed and he’d better get while the getting is good.

4.  Malzahn just wanted the heck out of Auburn for some reason.

The Anniston Star

Auburn’s fall from its 2010 national championship is starting to feel like Michael Dyer’s suspension — indefinite.

How else to interpret the offseason that’s shaping up following a regular season of blowout losses to the best teams the Tigers played?

Dyer, a two-time thousand-yard rusher and easily the most productive player on the nation’s 104th-ranked offense, is out for at least the Tigers’ Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup with Virginia.

Gus Malzahn, who coordinated a lot of good offenses before this season, will leave Auburn to become Arkansas State’s head coach, the Birmingham News reported late Tuesday. He’ll reportedly take a $500,000-a-year pay cut to coach a Sun Belt Conference team.


Auburn struggled offensively this season, however, with a new offensive line and quarterbacks, and stands at 104th in the nation in total offense heading to its Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Virginia on New Year's Eve.

Auburn is already without a defensive coordinator. Ted Roof left for Central Florida last week.

Malzahn was a hot commodity after the 2010 season, but passed on head coaching opportunities at Maryland and Vanderbilt. He signed a new contract that paid $1.3 million annually, making him the highest paid coordinator in the nation.


For many, the sticking point in all this ... how did Malzahn fall from turning down a $3 million-per-year offer with Vanderbilt to taking a pay cut just to land in Jonesboro, Arkansas, at a school that had never won six games in a year until 2011? (sic, ASU had not won more than six games a year since moving to the FBS level in 1992.)

For one, we could be dealing with a man who values things beyond money. There are a few of those. He may also just really like the state. He's 46 years old, and as far as I can tell, has spent just five years of his adult life based outside of Arkansas. He went to high school and college there and coached there until 2006.

Another theory, if you don't buy that he would've accepted any head job that would allow him to return home: he'd thought he would've been able to do better than Vandy in 2011, but found that interviews at UNC and Kansas didn't go as hoped, which left only ASU (and, you know, the other ASU).

And, FWIW, some have speculated Kristi Malzahn's aggressively edited rant video may have harmed her husband's changes of landing a top job.

College Football Talk

Exactly one year ago today, it was reported that Gus Malzahn had turned down an offer in the neighborhood of $3 million to become the head coach at Vanderbilt.

Fast-forward 365 days, and the Auburn offensive coordinator is reportedly set to become a head coach at a non-automatic qualifying conference school. For about a fifth of what he turned down from Vandy.  And for around 50-percent less than what he’s making now as a coordinator.

Yet that’s where things apparently stand at the moment, with ArkansasSports360.com reporting that Arkansas State has extended an offer to Malzahn to become its next head football coach.  

We've heard all their thoughts. What are yours?



Please read our comments policy before commenting.