Arkansas State Coach Gus Malzahn is headed back to Auburn.
Malzahn, whose contract is worth $2.3 million annually for five years, was at ASU less than a year after being hired from Auburn. He served as offensive coordinator for three seasons with the Tigers and made $1.3 million in his final season as an assistant. Arkansas State was 9-3 this season under Malzahn and won a second consecutive Sun Belt Conference title.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to become the head football coach at Auburn University. It's an outstanding institution with a storied football program that I had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand for three years," Malzahn said in a statement released by Auburn. "I deeply appreciate the confidence that Dr. Gogue, Jay Jacobs and the search committee had in my ability to turn this program around and to bring Auburn back to national prominence. This is a homecoming for me and I look forward to being reunited with the Auburn family."
ASU will receive $700,000 in buyout money because Malzahn, 47, is taking a new job. Auburn and Malzahn host the Red Wolves to open the 2013 season.
Malzahn, who was making $850,000 with the Red Wolves, informed ASU officials of his decision on Tuesday afternoon. He replaces Gene Chizik at Auburn. Chizik was fired after going 3-9, including a 49-0 loss to rival Alabama.
“We appreciate his contributions to our conference championship season and wish him well,” ASU Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson said.
Arkansas State begins its search for a head coach now. Athletic Director Terry Mohajir, system President Chuck Welch and Hudson will form the search committee for ASU.
Mohajir said the job should be an attractive one for prospective candidates.
“The back-to-back championships in the Sun Belt Conference make this a very attractive position, and we’re confident we’ll have a lot of interest,” Mohajir said. “This administration, this community and the entire Arkansas State family have demonstrated our commitment to have a nationally prominent intercollegiate athletics program and will continue to do so.”
ASU had committed to new facilities plans and other program improvements identified by Malzahn. Welch said Arkansas State will move forward with those plans, including a $25 million indoor practice facility and football operations center.
“We remain firmly committed to our facilities upgrade plans,” Welch said. “We owe this to our student-athletes and fans, and we remain excited about the opportunities ahead for the Red Wolves.”