‘It’s time to rise again:’ UCF announces Gus Malzahn as new head football coach

Malzahn spent past 8 seasons at Auburn

FILE - Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn reacts to a call during the second half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Auburn, Ala., in this Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, file photo. Its been a whirlwind three weeks for Auburn, given longtime coach Gus Malzahn getting fired on Dec. 13, new coach Bryan Harsin being introduced 11 days later, several players opting out of the Citrus Bowl and the Tigers hurriedly trying to prepare for a showdown against a stout Northwestern defense. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File) (Butch Dill, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Central Florida has struck a deal to make former Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn the Knights’ next head coach.

UCF announced Monday that Malzahn has entered an agreement that would bring him to the school a little more than two months after he was fired by Auburn.

The University signed Malzahn to an $11.5 million deal for five years.

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“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 a news 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.”

Malzahn, 55, was 68-35 in eight seasons with the Tigers.

He said he feels refreshed after his eight-week break from coaching and he’s ready to perform better than he has during his entire 30-year career.

“This is gonna be one of the best programs in college football in a short period of time and at times they’ve been that way. And so that’s another goal of mine, you know as far as that goes, but, you know, this is a job that I’m planning on being here and building it, like I said that’s what really makes me tick,” Malzahn said.

He plans to hire a staff in the next week or so with a focus on acquiring coaches who will focus on player development and invest in their lives on and off the field. He’s already met with players and is excited to work with them further and get to know them better.

His goals for the team include winning championships, getting in the playoffs and playing in bowl games. He’d also like to play a top 10 opponent in a non-conference setting by whatever means necessary.

“I’ll play out in the parking lot, alright. Terry can decide if we’re playing at home or on the road or two for whatever, I mean I just want to play them and I want to beat them,” Malzahn said.

He will replace Josh Heupel, who recently left to become the Tennessee Volunteers’ head coach, and he will be UCF’s ninth head football coach.

Malzahn has been linked to the UCF job ever since the school hired athletics director Terry Mohajir, who worked with Malzahn at Arkansas State.

“When I started the search process, it became very evident very quickly that, based on the conversations I had with the players last week and what they told me were looking for, Gus Malzahn was the guy for the job,” Mohajir said in a news release. “He has won at every level, and he has coached a Heisman Trophy winner and NFL draft picks. There has never been a better time for Coach Malzahn to lead this program than right now.”

Mohajir said although there was a lot of interest in the position, he knew during the interview process that he wanted Malzahn.

“I believe that he’s the right guy at the right time to lead this program. Not only do I believe that he’s the best college football coach in state of Florida now, I believe he’ll put together one of the best staffs in America. It’s time to rise again,” Mohajir said.

UCF beat Auburn in the 2018 Peach Bowl while Malzahn was coaching the Tigers.

Malzahn’s deal includes a country club membership to Interlachen Country Club, a car and $3.3. million to be spread out to 10 assistant coaches he hires.

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