“I’m excited to be the head coach at UCF and I’m really looking forward to being part of Knight Nation,” Malzahn said in a statement. “It is exciting to lead a program where the future is very bright. I’ll be on my way to get to know our team and everyone else associated with UCF. Our goal is to be ready to win championships. “

Malzahn’s Auburn contract contained no offset language, which means the school won’t get any of that money back after central Florida hires him.

Malzahn, 55, will try to keep up the momentum of Scott Frost and Heupel in central Florida, who have won at least ten games in three of their last four seasons and have become one of the better programs outside of the Power Five conferences. He and Knights Athletic Director Terry Mohajir, who was hired last week, worked together for one season in the state of Arkansas in 2012. Heupel and former sporting director Danny White left UCF for Tennessee last month.

“When I started the search process it became very clear that Gus Malzahn was the right man based on the conversations I had with the players last week that I was looking for,” Mohajir said in a statement. “He has won at all levels and trained a Heisman Trophy winner and NFL draft picks. There has never been a better time for Trainer Malzahn to lead this program than now. “

Under Malzahn, Auburn was known for its quick, uncomplicated offense, which led to numerous express gardens. In 2020, however, the Tigers only finished 46th nationally in terms of offensive SP +, a measure of overall efficiency (34th place in 2019). Auburn only went 8-17 against rivals Alabama, Georgia and LSU during Malzahn’s tenure, 0-12 in street games against those teams, and was only 2-5 in bowl games. One of those postseason losses was Central Florida in the Peach Bowl, which followed the 2017 regular season when the Knights went 13-0 and declared themselves “national champions” despite finishing sixth in the latest Associated Press poll.

The Knights have been in the top 20 nationwide in yards per game for the past four seasons, but Malzahn is inheriting a team that will only be returning 68 percent of its production from 2020 and ranking 74th nationwide.

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