AUBURN, Ala. (WRCB/AP) -- Gus Malzahn passed on the opportunity to be a college head coach last season.
He isn't going to do it again.
The Auburn offensive coordinator accepted an offer Tuesday night to become the head coach at Arkansas State. He replaces Hugh Freeze, who left the Red Wolves last week to take over at Ole Miss.
Arkansas State held a news conference on Wednesday afternoon to introduce its new coach.
Malzahn, who gained notoriety as a successful high school coach in Arkansas, is wrapping up his third year as Gene Chizik's top assistant at Auburn. He was a hot topic in 2010 after scheming up an offense for quarterback Cam Newton that led the Tigers to the BCS National Championship.
Chizik said in a statement Wednesday he was happy for Malzahn, and added Malzahn will stay on as the Tigers' offensive coordinator for the Chik-Fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve.
"Gus has always had the strong desire to become a head coach and the chance for him to return to his home state that he is so familiar with, will be very beneficial," Chizik said in the statement. "He's meant a tremendous amount to our program the past three years, helping our offense and our program achieve unprecedented heights, winning a BCS National Championship and setting countless offensive records.
"Gus has experienced success in each stop of his coaching career, and I have no doubt that he will have similar results at Arkansas State."
Malzahn made more than $1 million per year under his deal at Auburn, and will take a pay cut in moving to the Sun Belt school.
Freeze led Arkansas State to a 10-2 record and the Sun Belt Championship this season, which was his only one in Jonesboro. The Red Wolves will play Northern Illinois in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on January 8.
Malzahn's departure now leaves Auburn without both coordinators. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof left the program last week to accept an offer from Central Florida.
The Tigers (7-5) will play Virginia on New Year's Eve in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
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