Football.com - everything football

Malzahn Returns To Auburn, Not Arkansas

by Dan Harralson
Jul 23, 2013 4:14 AM EDT



Last year's 3-9 team was Auburn's worst football in years. Auburn has had bad years before, but not to the extent of 2012's winless SEC record.  

The end result was the firing of Gene Chizik, two years removed from Cam Newton allowing him to hoist the crystal ball in Glendale, Ariz.  

The outcome of Chizik's firing was the hiring and return of Gus Malzahn. Malzahn, one year removed from being Auburn's offensive coordinator, turned down an opening in his home state, where he is a legend.  

Malzahn recently was inducted into the Arkansas High School Hall of Fame, where he won three high school state championships. Malzahn also was Houston Nutt's offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2005 and 2006. He was successful in his lone season as Arkansas State's head coach last year, going 10-3. Malzahn won the GoDaddy.com Bowl and finished the season winning eight straight games.  

He has won everywhere he has been and looks to continue that trend back on the plains of Auburn.   

Malzahn took question after question about different Arkansas topics this offseason. What made Malzahn shy away from taking over at his beloved Arkansas?  

Malzahn at Auburn is a good fit, but why the Tigers over the Razorbacks?

"Really, to be honest with you, all I can do is speak for what we're doing," Malzahn said. "Really not updated on where they're at. I know they have a new coach and a new philosophy."

The answer was usual coach talk, which understandably he did not want to diverge from at SEC media days. On the flip side, the SEC allowed question after question from Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 

Nonetheless, Malzahn is at Auburn now and is probably the best fit for Auburn while Nick Saban continues at Alabama.

Malzahn wants to be not just fast, he wants to showcase the fastest tempo in the nation.

"We completely believe in pace. If we can execute our offense at a fast pace, it's a big advantage," Malzahn told reporters.

Being able to recruit a different style of players is key in order to compete with Nick Saban in-state and in the Southeast.

"As a head coach, you have to understand how the game is going, what gives your team the best chance of being successful. As a head coach, we'll definitely manage each situation to try to give us the best chance of being successful," Malzahn said of his style of football.

We will never know the full reason why Malzahn is not the head coach of his home state's Arkansas Razorbacks. So many people that think highly of him in the Natural State, although there are the few in Fayetteville still upset about the Springdale High players (where Malzahn coached) and their lack of playing time under Houston Nutt's watch.