Gus Malzahn returns home as new Arkansas State coach

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Gus Malzahn is returning to the state where he won three state championships as a high school coach for his first head-coaching gig at the college level.

The Fort Smith, Ark., native will be announced as the new head coach at Arkansas State at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. Malzahn, who spent the last three seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Auburn, replaces former Red Wolves Coach Hugh Freeze, who took the coaching job at Mississippi last week.

The 46-year-old Malzahn won the Broyles Award, which recognizes the top assistant coach in college football, in 2010 — the year he coached Heisman Trophy-winner Cam Newton and helped the Tigers claim the BCS championship.

He also served as offensive coordinator for two years at Tulsa, which finished first nationally in total offense both years, and for one season at Arkansas, where he coached Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden and had the fourth-best rushing offense in the nation.


But Malzahn was familiar to football fans in Arkansas long before any of that, having spent 14 years as a high school coach and taking seven teams to a state championship game. After starting at Hughes High in northeast Arkansas, he went on to lead the private school Shiloh Christian in Springdale to two state titles.

He eventually moved on to Springdale High, which plays in the state’s largest classification, and led the team to a 14-0 record and a state championship while finishing in the top five in most national polls in 2005.

Malzahn will be recognized as the Red Wolves’ 28th head football coach during halftime at Wednesday night’s men’s basketball game against Seattle.


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The Associated Press contributed to this report.