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Gus Malzahn named Auburn's new head coach

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Auburn is bringing one of its 2010 heroes back to the Plains.

The Tigers named Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn as their new head coach Tuesday, replacing the fired Gene Chizik with the same offensive coordinator who helped Chizik to three consecutive winning seasons from 2009 to 2011 and the 2010 BCS championship.

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"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. "I deeply appreciate the confidence that [president] Dr. Gogue, [athletic director] 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."

Malzahn leaves Arkansas State after a single successful season, a 9-3 campaign that ended with seven consecutive wins, a 7-1 Sun Belt record and the school's second straight conference championship. The Red Wolves will play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl against Kent State.

It's not yet clear if Malzahn will coach in the bowl game.

Malzahn was hired in 2009 as Chizik's first offensive coordinator at Auburn, and in his first year propelled the Tigers from 104th to 16th in total offense. His 2010 offense ranked seventh in the FBS, helped make Cam Newton a Heisman Trophy winner, and was the driving force behind Auburn's first national championship since 1957. Both offenses set multiple scoring and yardage records at Auburn.

"We are tremendously excited that Gus Malzahn will be our next head football coach," Jacobs said. "Coach Malzahn was the clear unanimous choice of our search committee, and I am pleased that Dr. Gogue has accepted our recommendation. This is a great day for Auburn football and Auburn University."

Malzahn left for Arkansas State following Auburn's 8-5 2011 season, one in which it appeared the Tigers limited their use of Malzahn' preferred up-tempo style in order to help its young defense.

Before coming to Auburn, Malzahn had enjoyed successful stints as offensive coordinator at Tulsa and Arkansas, with the Golden Hurricane his first opportunity to display the up-tempo, no-huddle offense that had made his name at Arkansas' Springdale High School. Tulsa finished No. 1 in the FBS in total offense in 2007 and 2008 on Malzahn's watch and first in yards-per-play in 2008.

Gogue said earlier Tuesday that Auburn would announce its next head coach within 24 hours. The Tigers had also reportedly interviewed Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and spoken to former Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino.

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