The 55-year-old was fired from the SEC West powerhouse following a challenging 2020 season. The Tigers went 6-4 prior to his dismissal and found themselves shutout of the upper echelon of the conference once again.
Even with last year’s disappointment, Malzahn has developed a reputation as one of the steadiest coaches in the sport. Over nine years on the sidelines, including eight spent at Auburn, he racked up a 77-38 overall record. He also led the Tigers to an SEC championship in 2013, two division titles and six appearances in New Year’s Six bowl games over the last eight years.
After just a few months out of a job, he’s back in college football and ready for a new challenge with UCF.
“I’m thrilled to be the head coach at UCF, and I’m truly looking forward to being part of Knight Nation,” Malzahn said in an official UCF press release. “It’s exciting to be head of a program where the future is extremely bright. I will be hitting the ground running in terms of getting to know our team and everyone else connected with UCF. Our goal is to be ready to win championships.”
The Knights found themselves on the market for a new head coach after third-year man Josh Heupel left to take the job at Tennessee. The AAC competitors have their top choice and will head into 2021 with high expectations.
Needless to say, Malzahn is a huge get for the Group of 5 program. Take a look at some of the reactions to UCF hauling one of the biggest names in college football:
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) February 15, 2021
ALL ABOARD THE GUS BUS pic.twitter.com/6skJ11jwpa
— Barstool UCF (@UCFStool) February 15, 2021
Who's the brave soul who is going to ask Gus Malzahn today if he will acknowledge UCF's 2017 national championship after it completed an undefeated season with a Peach Bowl win over Auburn?
— Tom Green (@Tomas_Verde) February 15, 2021
Gus Malzahn would have made 100 times more sense at Tennessee than Josh Heupel, instead ends up replacing Heupel and UCF upgrades
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) February 15, 2021
UCF just hired the last coach to beat Alabama. Knights are the biggest winners of the 2021 coaching cycle and it’s not particularly close.
— Matt Scalici (@MattScalici) February 15, 2021
Malzahn will inherit a UCF team that had a lackluster year in 2020. The Knights went 6-4 last season, despite having only four total losses from 2017-19.
With Malzahn at the helm, UCF will try to bounce back and re-gain college football’s attention in 2021.