Central Florida with huge hiring of Gus Malzahn as head football coach

Gus Malzahn

February 15, 2021

Gus Malzahn, who led Auburn to the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game following the 2013 season in the first of eight straight years his Tigers qualified for bowl games, has been named the ninth head football coach at UCF.

UCF vice president and director of athletics Terry Mohajir made the announcement today.

In eight years as head football coach at Auburn, Gus Malzahn also led the Tigers to a Southeastern Conference Championship, two SEC West Division titles and six New Year’s Day bowl selections among those eight postseason appearances.

Malzahn, 77-38 in nine seasons overall as a head coach, has helped teams to seven conference championship game appearances in his 15 seasons as a collegiate coach, including winning a pair of SEC Championships at Auburn (2010, 2013) and a Sun Belt Championship at Arkansas State in 2012. In the final Associated Press rankings his Auburn teams finished second (2013), 10th (2017), 22nd (2014) and 24th (2016).

“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,” said Mohajir. “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.”

“I’m thrilled to be the head coach at UCF, and I’m truly looking forward to being part of Knight Nation,” said Malzahn. “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.”

The 2013 Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden, Eddie Robinson, Home Depot, Sporting News, SB Nation, Liberty Mutual and Associated Press National Coach of the Year, Malzahn earned SEC Coach-of the-Year honors that season after guiding Auburn to the biggest turnaround in SEC history. He led the Tigers to a 12-2 record and one of the most memorable seasons in school history in 2013, with historic wins over Georgia and top-ranked Alabama and a record-setting SEC Championship Game win over fifth-ranked Missouri. He became just the third coach in SEC history to win an SEC title in his first year at a school, joining LSU’s Bernie Moore in 1935 and Ole Miss’ John Vaught in 1947.

The 34-28 victory over top-rated Alabama in 2013 came on a memorable 100-yard return of a Tide missed field goal on the final play of the game. Malzahn’s Tiger squads also defeated seventh-ranked Texas A&M in 2013, seventh-rated Ole Miss in 2014, second-ranked Georgia and top-rated Alabama in 2017 and fifth-ranked Alabama in 2019.

After his eight seasons at Auburn, Malzahn qualified as the second-longest tenured head coach at one school in the SEC. He is one of only 10 active FBS head coaches to take a team to a national championship game. During his time with the Tigers, Auburn was one of only three SEC schools to play in multiple SEC Championships games and play for a national championship.

Malzahn has produced 15 1,000-yard rushers in 15 seasons as a college coach, including Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason (1,816) and Nick Marshall (1,068) in 2013 and Cameron-Artis Payne (1,608) in 2014. Kamryn Pettway ran for 1,123 yards in 2016 (despite missing significant time with injuries) and Kerryon Johnson led the SEC with 1,320 yards in 2017.

On three occasions, Malzahn has had two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season: 2013 and 2010 (both Auburn) and 2006 (Arkansas). Malzahn has also coached five 1,000-yard receivers and three 3,000- yard passers. His 2007 Tulsa team had three 1,000-yard receivers.

During Malzahn’s eight years at Auburn, the Tigers had the top rushing offense in the SEC, averaging 228.6 yards per game. In 2013, Auburn led the nation in rushing at 328.3 yards per game, the first SEC team to do so. Three of the top six team rushing totals in SEC history (2010, 2013, 2016) came under Malzahn’s leadership. Auburn became just the second team in SEC history to gain more than 7,000 yards of total offense in a season in 2013, finishing the year with 7,018 yards (also Texas A&M in 2012).

The Tigers set a school record with 48 rushing touchdowns in 2013 and set a school record against SEC opponents with 677 yards of total offense versus Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers set SEC Championship Game team records with 26 rushing first downs, 74 rushing attempts, 545 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs.

Tre Mason, a Heisman Trophy finalist and 2013 SEC Player of the Year, ranked third in the nation with 23 TDs, was fifth nationally with 1,816 yards rushing, sixth with 10.7 points per game, sixth with 169.57 all-purpose yards per game and eighth with 129.7 rushing yards per game. Mason set the Auburn single-season record with 1,816 rushing yards and 2,374 all-purpose yards and was second with 317 rushing attempts. His 46 rushing attempts and 304 rushing yards vs. No. 5 Missouri set SEC Championship Game records and fell three yards shy of the Auburn record.

In Malzahn’s eight seasons 32 players were selected in the National Football League draft, including four first-round draft picks–including Derrick Brown (No. 7) and Noah Igbinoghene (No. 30) in the 2020 NFL Draft. Malzahn’s other first-round picks include Greg Robinson (No. 2 overall) and Dee Ford (No. 23) in the 2014 draft. In the last two drafts, 12 Auburn players have been drafted, the most for the Tigers in a two-year span in the common draft era.

Malzahn coached 14 All-Americans as head coach at Auburn, including consensus selections center Reese Dismukes (2014) and defensive lineman Derrick Brown (2019). Brown won the Lott IMPACT Trophy in 2019, while Dismukes was named the 2014 Rimington Award winner as the nation’s top center.

The Tigers faced the nation’s most difficult schedule collectively during Malzahn’s eight years at Auburn, facing 38 ranked opponents, including 21 in the top 10. Auburn was the nation’s only program in 2016 to face both the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked programs and in 2017 it faced three of the four College Football Playoff semifinalists a total of four times, earning two wins.

COURTESY CENTRAL FLORIDA ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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