Gus Malzahn

Gus Malzahn
Sport(s) Football
Current position
Title Head coach
Record 35−17
Biographical details
Born (1965-10-28) October 28, 1965
Irving, Texas
Playing career
1984–1985 Arkansas
1987–1989 Henderson State
Position(s) Wide receiver
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1991 Hughes (AR) HS (DC)
1992–1995 Hughes (AR) HS
1996–2000 Shiloh Christian (AR) HS
2001–2005 Springdale (AR) HS
2006 Arkansas (OC/WR)
2007–2008 Tulsa (AHC/Co-OC/QB)
2009–2011 Auburn (OC/QB)
2012 Arkansas State
2013–Present Auburn
Head coaching record
Overall 44−20 (college)
Bowls 1−2
Accomplishments and honors
1 Sun Belt (2012)
1 SEC (2013)
Broyles Award (2010)
SEC Coach of the Year (2013)
Home Depot Coach of the Year (2013)
Sporting News Coach of the Year (2013)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (2013)
AP College Football Coach of the Year (2013)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (2013)
Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award (2013)

Arthur Gustavo "Gus" Malzahn, III (born October 28, 1965) is an American football coach and former player. He spent the 2012 season as the head football coach at Arkansas State University. From 2009 to 2011, Malzahn served as the offensive coordinator at Auburn University. In 2010, a season in which the Auburn Tigers won the national championship, Malzahn received the Broyles Award, which recognizes the top assistant coach in college football. Prior to his stints at Arkansas State and Auburn, Malzahn served as offensive coordinator at the University of Arkansas and the University of Tulsa, respectively.

In his first year as head coach at Auburn, Malzahn received national attention for coaching one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history at Auburn.[1] Malzahn inherited an Auburn Tigers football team that did not win a single Southeastern Conference game in the 2012 season, then led them to an SEC Championship and an appearance in the 2014 BCS Championship Game. The Tigers won their eighth SEC title and tallied a record of 12–2 (7–1 in SEC play) only a mere year after what was considered by many to be their worst season in 60 years. For his accomplishments, Malzahn received several "Coach of the year" awards including the 2013 SEC Coach of the Year, Home Depot Coach of the Year, Sporting News Coach of the Year, Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, Bobby Bowden Coach of the Year Award, Paul "Bear" Bryant Award, and the AP College Football Coach of the Year.

Playing career

Malzahn graduated from Fort Smith Christian High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1984 and was a walk-on receiver at Arkansas under then-head coach Ken Hatfield in 1984 and 1985 before transferring to Henderson State University located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he was a two-year letterman (1988, '89) and earned his bachelor's degree in physical education in 1990.

High school coaching career

Malzahn got his start as the defensive coordinator at Hughes High School in Hughes, Arkansas in 1991. He became head coach in 1992 and in 1994 Hughes reached the state championship game with an upset of Pine Bluff Dollarway. Hughes fell just short in the title game, losing to Lonoke on an interception in the final minute.

Malzahn's success at Hughes and his wide-open attack landed him a head coaching position at Shiloh Christian in 1996. From 1996 to 2000, he transformed Shiloh Christian into one of the most dynamic offensive prep squads in the nation. In 1998, Shiloh Christian set a national record with 66 passing touchdowns for the season, while quarterback Josh Floyd nearly set an individual national record with 5,878 total yards (5,221 passing, 657 rushing).[2] Malzahn guided the Saints to back-to-back state championships in 1998 and 1999.

In 2001, Malzahn took over for long-time coach Jarrell Williams at Springdale High School. Malzahn continued the rich tradition of the Bulldogs’ program. He led the program to two state championship game appearances in his last four years, winning the title in 2005.

Malzahn led his squad to the state title game in only his second season in 2002. The Bulldogs lost 17–10 to Fort Smith Southside.

Springdale was on track for another state title game appearance in 2004 before Little Rock Central sidetracked the Bulldogs’ title hopes in the state semifinals. Springdale was upset by the eventual state champion, 31–20. The Bulldogs finished the season at 12–1.

Malzahn's 2005 squad at Springdale went 14–0, easily won the state’s Class 5A championship, outscored its opponents 664–118, including a 54–20 victory over West Memphis in the state championship game, and was consistently ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation.

Included on the championship team were prize recruits Mitch Mustain, Ben Cleveland, Andrew Norman, and Damian Williams who all eventually joined their coach at the University of Arkansas. Offensive tackle Bartley Webb decided to leave the state to play for the University of Notre Dame.

In 2013, Malzahn was inducted into the Arkansas High School Coaches Association's Hall of Fame.[3][4]

College coaching career

As offensive coordinator


Malzahn joined Houston Nutt's staff on December 9, 2005, as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach,[5] following an impressive five-year run at Springdale High School capped by one of the most dominant seasons by any high school in 2005. Given that much of Springdale High's football talent decided to follow Malzahn to Arkansas and the fact that Malzahn had never coached in college, many questioned what Houston Nutt's motives were. Malzahn was part of the Razorbacks 2006 season in which they won the SEC Western Division championship. However, their season ended with three straight losses to LSU, Florida in the SEC Championship Game, and Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl to finish with a 10–4 record.

There was a widely reported tension between Houston Nutt's reliance on the ground game (which turned out to be one of the best running games in the nation in 2006) and Malzahn's philosophy of spreading the field with a no-huddle offense. The poor ending of the season only added stress to the already tense coaching relationship. Malzahn was named the National Offensive Coordinator of the Year by

Despite this tension, the 2006 season served as a breakout for RBs Darren McFadden (1,647 yards with 14 TD) and Felix Jones (1,168 yards with 6 TD).[6] WR Marcus Monk would also have 962 yards receiving with 11 TD despite catching passes from two quarterbacks.

In January 2007, Malzahn received an offer from the University of Tulsa and his friend, new head coach Todd Graham. He took the Tulsa job to be offensive coordinator and Assistant Head Coach. Shortly after, both Mustain and Williams decided to transfer to the University of Southern California.


During the 2007 season, Malzahn emerged as one of the premier offensive coordinators in the nation, as Tulsa ranked first in the nation in total yards per game, ahead of Texas Tech and Hawaii, and with a more balanced attack than both teams.[7] The Golden Hurricane also ranked 3rd in the nation in passing[8] and led their conference in scoring. Tulsa became the first team in NCAA history to have a 5,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and three 1,000-yard receivers in a single season.[9][10]

After the regular season, Malzahn interviewed for the open position at Arkansas once Nutt resigned in November 2007.[11]

In 2008, Tulsa was again the nation's most prolific attack, leading with nearly 7,980 total yards of offense averaging 570 yards per game.[12] The Golden Hurricane were ranked 2nd in the nation in scoring behind Oklahoma, scoring over 47 points per game.[13] Tulsa not only ranked 2nd in the nation in scoring that year, but finished with the 2nd highest scoring offense in the history of major college football. The offense was also the nation's most balanced attack, ranking 5th in the nation in rushing[14] and 9th in passing.[15] The Tulsa quarterbacks finished 3rd in the nation in passing efficiency, behind only Oklahoma and Texas.[16]


Malzahn was named the offensive coordinator at Auburn University by first year head coach Gene Chizik on December 28, 2008.[17] Under Malzahn, Auburn made significant improvements over the previous season's offensive production; the Tigers finished the season ranked 16th in total offense (2nd in the SEC against all opponents) with just under 432 yards per game[18] and 17th in scoring with over 33 points per game[19] after being tied for 110th in the nation in scoring the previous season.[20] Although he still made significant improvements in his first year, against SEC competition Auburn managed 377.1 total yards a game which placed them 4th in the SEC (behind Alabama, Arkansas, and Ole Miss).[21] His first season broke the Auburn single season total offense record previously set by the undefeated 2004 team. Head coach Gene Chizik had stressed prior to the season that he intended to focus on the run game which showed great improvement as well; the rushing offense finished the season ranked 13th in the nation with 212 yards per game[22] after being ranked 69th prior to the new coaching staff's arrival.[23] Passing numbers also improved under the new offensive scheme, with the passing efficiency ranking ending up 22nd nationally[24] after being ranked 106th in 2008.[25] Senior quarterback Chris Todd set a single-season touchdown record at Auburn and finished the season with a passer rating of 145.73, ranking him 18th in the nation.[26] During the 2009 season, Auburn's offense under Malzahn, produced 120 plays of 15 yards or more, nearly doubling the 62 compiled in 2008.

In 2010, Malzahn's offense, led by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton at quarterback, helped Auburn achieve an undefeated record, a No. 1 national ranking after the regular season[27] and a berth in the BCS Championship game, played on January 10, 2011. Auburn led the SEC in scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense, pass efficiency, first downs and third down conversions[28] on its way to a 13–0 record and a 56–17 victory over South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game. Malzahn was awarded the 2010 Broyles Award, recognizing him as the top assistant coach in the nation. Auburn went on to win the 2011 BCS National Championship Game against Oregon.

In 2011, ESPN selected Malzahn as one of the best recruiters in the Southeastern Conference.[29]

As head coach

Arkansas State

On December 13, 2011, Malzahn left Auburn to accept the position of head football coach at Arkansas State University.[30] In his first and only year at Arkansas State, Malzahn led the team to a 9-3 record (not including the Bowl Game) and a Conference Championship with a win over Middle Tennessee State, 45-0. One of Malzahn's players, Don Jones, was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of the 2013 draft and made the team as a safety.

QB Ryan Aplin showcased Malzahn's evolving spread dual attack by throwing for 3,342 yards with 24 TD and running for 438 yards with 6 more TD.[31] RB David Oku would add 1,061 yards with 16 TD and WR J.D. McKissic had 103 catches for 1,022 yards with 5 TD.


On December 4, 2012, Malzahn was announced to replace Gene Chizik as the head coach of Auburn University shortly after winning the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Malzahn's first hires were Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson (former head coach at Southern Miss and previously coached as Defensive Coordinator at several SEC schools) and Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee (who followed Malzahn from Arkansas State where he was also the Offensive Coordinator).

In 2013, the Auburn Tiger offense under Malzahn was led by quarterback Nick Marshall. On November 16, 2013 with the Tigers down by 1 against Georgia facing 4th-and-18 and 36 seconds left in the game, Malzahn called the play "Little Rock" for Marshall which would become known as "The Prayer at Jordan-Hare". Marshall hit Ricardo Louis on a tipped 73-yard Hail Mary pass to give Auburn the victory.

Two weeks later, in the Iron Bowl against Alabama, Malzahn's Tigers avenged two consecutive blowout losses to the Tide with a dramatic 34-28 win, clinched on an epic 109-yard return of a missed field goal (100 yards under NCAA scoring rules) for the game-winning touchdown as time expired. The win completed the greatest single-season turnaround in SEC history, and gave Auburn the SEC West title. Auburn would go on to win the 2013 SEC Championship game later that year against the Missouri Tigers. On December 8, 2013, it was announced that Auburn will play the Florida State Seminoles in the 2014 BCS Championship Game.

After leading the heavily favored Seminoles 21-3 in the second quarter, Auburn failed to stay in front and the lead slowly slipped away. The Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston stepped up in the 4th quarter and rallied the Seminoles to a victory, leading the way with 6/7 passing for 77 yards on route to the go-ahead scoring touchdown.[32] Auburn lost in the 2014 BCS Championship Game to the Florida State Seminoles by a score of 34-31.

Malzahn won the prestigious 2013 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, Sporting News College Football Coach of the Year, and Home Depot Coach of the Year Awards as well as the SEC Coach of the Year by the AP and coaches. On December 10, 2013, fans voted him the recipient of the inaugural Premier Coach of College Football Award. On December 23, 2013, it was announced that Malzahn had won the Associated Press National Coach of the Year, edging out Duke's David Cutcliffe, 33 votes to 17. Malzahn is only the second coach to win the award in his first season with a new team.[33] In January 2014 after the national championship game, Malzahn added the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award and the Bobby Bowden Coach of the Year Award to bring the total number of national coach of the year awards to six for the first year head coach in the 2013-14 season.

Offensive philosophy

Malzahn's offense is known as the hurry-up, no-huddle and he is known for that philosophy. In January 2003, he published a book and instructional video titled Hurry Up No Huddle – An Offensive Philosophy (ISBN 9781585186549), that became the blueprint for the offensive wave engulfing the state of Arkansas.[34] Several National Football League teams adopted some of Malzahn's offensive strategies.[35] One of the key aspects of Malzahn's offense is the balance that he has between passing and running the ball.

Pass vs. run balance

College head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Arkansas State Red Wolves (Sun Belt Conference) (2012)
2012 Arkansas State 9–3 7–1 1st*
Arkansas State: 9–3 7–1 * Did not coach bowl game
Auburn Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (2013–present)
2013 Auburn 12–2 7–1 T–1st (Western) L BCS NCG 2 2
2014 Auburn 8–5 4–4 T–4th (Western) L Outback 23 22
2015 Auburn 7–6 2–6 7th (Western) W Birmingham
2016 Auburn 8–4 5–3 T–2nd (Western) Sugar Bowl+
Auburn: 35–17 18–14
Total: 44–20
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

Published works

Personal life

Malzahn is married to the former Kristi Otwell and they are the parents of two daughters, Kylie and Kenzie.[36]


  1. "It's official: Auburn has date with history against Florida State in the BCS National Championship". December 8, 2013.
  2. – News – Records
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  9. Zenor, John (2008-01-07). "Tulsa 63, Bowling Green 7". Associated Press.
  10. Evans, Thayer (2008-10-25). "So Spread Out, So Hard to Catch". The New York Times.
  11. Clemson’s Bowden apparent leader in UA coaching search
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  28. Website/football/confldrs.htm
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  30. "Gus Malzahn leaving Auburn to become head coach at Arkansas State". Alabama Live. December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  33. .
  34. Yates, Robert (2008-10-17). "High School Football in the 21st Century: That wave was overcome by a Crimson Tide. A whole new ballgame". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
  35. Battista, Judy (2008-10-11). "A Wildcat Is a Tiger by the Tail for Defenses". New York Times.

Further reading

External links

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