Two separate reports are out indicating that Arkansas State has made an offer to Gus Malzahn for the Auburn offensive coordinator to become their head coach. The interest between the Red Wolves program and Malzahn was first reported here yesterday.
According to Pete Roussell’s Coaching Search Ticker, the program has offered a six-year, $600,000 deal.
AuburnUndercover.com had a similar report earlier this morning, but without specifics on the deal being put on the table.
Most observers believe it’s a long shot for Arkansas State to lure the native son back to the state of Arkansas, and the obstacles are most likely financial. Malzahn is one of the nation’s highest paid assistants, earning $1.3 million a year at Auburn. Arkansas State’s former head coach Hugh Freeze earned less than $300,000 before he bolted to take the Ole Miss job last week.
That said, it’s hard to underestimate the desire to be a head coach at a program with a philosophical fit, even if it is for significantly less money. It’s also hard to underestimate the desire to live and work in your home state while you develop your head coaching acumen, especially if your long term ambitions include a head coaching gig at a big time program.
If Arkansas State does successfully lure Malzahn to Jonesboro, it will probably be one of the few genuine “feel good” stories of the 2011 college football season. A native son returns to his home state, takes a cut in pay and takes over a small but growing football program. I’m not holding my breath, but I’d really like to do a blog post on good news this season.
Extra Point: When this blog broke the story yesterday, I cited sources close to the Sun Belt and “other reliable sources.” Those individuals explained to me in brief, face-to-face conversations that the interest was there and that ASU would make the push. I have had absolutely not contact whatsoever with Malzahn’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, and neither have any of the individuals I spoke with yesterday. Sexton isn’t behind this story. Arkansas State is driving it.