Gus Malzahn was ready to be a college head coach, and Arkansas State presented a familiar setting to reach that goal.
The Arkansas native and Auburn offensive coordinator returned to his home state Wednesday to take over as the new coach of the Red Wolves. He was greeted with a standing ovation inside the school’s Convocation Center and promised to put Arkansas State in the Top 25 mix annually.
Malzahn will coach at Auburn through the Chik-Fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31, but he will also begin recruiting and putting a staff together immediately for the Red Wolves (10-2), who face Northern Illinois in the Godaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 8.
Athletic director Dean Lee declined to say how much Malzahn would be paid, but he did say the contract was for five years and would be the highest coaching salary in the Sun Belt Conference.
ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils plucked Todd Graham to be their next football coach after just one year at Pittsburgh. He will replace Dennis Erickson, who was dismissed after a 6-6 season in which the Sun Devils dropped their final four games.
Pittsburgh announced in September that it is leaving the Big East for the ACC by 2014. It will now be looking for its fourth head coach in the past 13 months.
FRESNO STATE: Texas A&M interim coach Tim DeRuyter was hired to replace the fired Pat Hill as head coach.
NORTH CAROLINA: Interim coach Everett Withers said he’s talked to Ohio State about joining Urban Meyer’s staff. Withers said he’s “disappointed” that he isn’t the permanent choice to lead UNC.
KANSAS: Charlie Weis is guaranteed $2.5 million annually over his five-year deal with Kansas, along with incentives that could push the total to more than $3 million.
NAVY: The school’s athletic director told CBSSports.com that it is preparing to join the Big East, but when it will happen is unclear.