Malzahn was fired after a 6-4 season for Auburn, with an all-SEC schedule due to COVID-19. He was 68-35 overall, with a 39-27 SEC record, a conference title in 2013 (which ended in a BCS National Championship appearance), and an SEC West title in 2017. He was also one of the only coaches in all of college football with any regular success against Nick Saban and Alabama. Malzahn was 3-5 in Iron Bowls as a head coach.
He coached his way on and off of the hot seat more than just about anyone in college football. Ultimately, it wasn’t too surprising that Auburn elected to move on from him, amid reports and rumors of heavy booster influence on the decision. The lack of a coherent plan after the decision called it into question, though the team wound up with a pretty successful head coach in Boise State’s Bryan Harsin.
He’ll have a fan in Malzahn, who spent 11 seasons at Auburn between his head coaching tenure, and his time as offensive coordinator, when he helped Gene Chizik and Cam Newton lead the program to the national title. Malzahn was just hired at UCF, but a soft spot in his heart remains for AU.
"I'll call the plays the rest of my career." New UCF Coach Gus Malzahn won't delegate play-calling duties like he sometimes did at Auburn. pic.twitter.com/i5K1jTEtoZ
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) February 17, 2021
“I was at Auburn 11 years and I’ve got nothing but great memories,” Gus Malzahn told Paul Finebaum on his SEC Network and radio show today, per 247Sports. “It was a great experience. My family loves Auburn and we’re part of the Auburn family. We always will.
“We’ll be rooting hard from here for them. But it was just — both of my daughters graduated, my son-in-laws, both of them graduated from Auburn. We’ll always be a part of the Auburn family.”
Malzahn told Finebaum that he was happy for a break from coaching, but after a few weeks, he got the itch to get back with a team. When the UCF job opened, after Tennessee hired away Josh Heupel, he jumped at the opportunity to take over one what many consider the best Group of Five programs, and one of the best opportunities in college football altogether.
“From the outside I’ve always said, ‘If the right guy ever got to UCF and would stay there and build it, everybody else would be in trouble.’ I was real attracted and got excited about it.”