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Central Florida hires former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn

Dan Wolken

Central Florida introduced Gus Malzahn as its new football coach Monday. 

Malzahn, 55, was fired by Auburn Dec. 13 after eight seasons and a 68-35 record including an SEC title in 2013. Auburn had beaten rival Alabama three times under Malzahn, including as recently as 2019, but struggled to sustain momentum after another trip to the SEC title game in 2017 and eventually fell out of favor with the fan base. 

Malzahn replaces Josh Heupel, who took the Tennessee job last month, following former UCF athletics director Danny White to Knoxville. Because of the odd timing in the hiring cycle, the Knights moved quickly to hire Terry Mohajir as athletics director from Arkansas State. Mohajir then hired Malzahn, whom he worked with in 2012 during a one-year head coaching stop before Malzahn took the Auburn job. 

Gus Malzahn led Auburn to a 68-35 record in eight seasons before getting fired in December.

Gus Malzahn said he planned take a season off from coaching and maybe work in television.

Then the UCF job opened up.

“I truly believe that this is a program of the future in college football,” Malzahn said. “The reason I believe that is the foundation has been built.”

Malzahn led Auburn to BCS championship game in 2013 against Florida State. He missed on the College Football Playoff in 2017 when the Tigers lost the SEC championship game to Georgia.

“The goal is very simple: Win championships and get into the College Football Playoff,” he said.

Malzahn’s $21.4 million buyout at Auburn is not subject to an offset, meaning he will earn that money plus his salary at UCF. He continues UCF’s trend of hiring offensive-minded coaches and will immediately have credibility and name recognition in the region given his prominence in the SEC over the last decade. 

Contributing: The Associated Press