Gus Malzahn relishes chance to start over as a ball coach while helping UCF raise its national profile

Gus Malzahn looks as if a brand new man in a not-so-old program. That is one other manner of claiming UCF’s 55-year-old coach has remade himself, all of a sudden changing into hotter than the most recent experience at Disney World.

“You went by one thing fairly traumatic,” UCF athletic director Terry Mohajir instructed his new coach earlier this yr. “Are you able to get again in? Are you OK?”

Malzahn replied: “You higher imagine it, man.”

The trauma of being fired at Auburn — the primary time in his profession that is occurred — has light. You do not see it typically, a longtime Energy 5 coach dropping all the way down to the Group of 5 degree. Upon his firing in December, Malzahn might have sat out, accomplished some TV, visited camps and sat on a pile of buyout eight-figure buyout money.

Besides Gus is a ball coach.

Reuniting along with his outdated boss at Arkansas State was too good to go up. Taking up a loaded program additionally helped. Gus has a longtime quarterback (Dillon Gabriel), a workers full of excellence (three assistants have been on applications that a minimum of performed for a nationwide championship) and a handful of Auburn transfers, together with defensive lineman Big Kat Bryant

Current developments have conspired to make Gus-to-UCF even greater than at first look. In these unusual days of realignment, UCF has been quietly aggressive. It has referred to as the Energy 5 inquiring about entry. It has produced a flashy 64-page digital presentation. The message: Allow us to in.

These items are virtually anticipated of this system positioned 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and lightweight years from the Energy 5. It’ll attempt something and every thing to play within the massive time.

Enter Malzahn, who joins the Knights at an ideal time. There aren’t any indicators of their success letting up. Previous to him, George O’Leary, Scott Frost and Josh Heupel have mixed to win 68 video games enjoying in three BCS/New 12 months’s Six bowls (profitable two) during the last eight seasons.

In that very same time, Malzahn has gained the identical variety of video games (68) at Auburn with three wins over Alabama, a nationwide championship berth, two SEC West titles and an SEC championship.

The Malzahn period begins Sept. 2 with an all-or-nothing recreation towards Boise State. It highlights an intertwined relationship. Malzahn turned a first-time head coach in 2012 at Arkansas State. He was changed by Bryan Harsin, who changed him this yr at Auburn. Harsin got here from Boise State for his first Energy 5 job.

Bought all that?

Auburn critics will level to this system’s lack of quarterback growth lately. Which may be true. However recent begins are recent begins.

In Orlando, there isn’t any Alabama. In Orlando, there is a built-in, completed quarterback (Gabriel, the nation’s passing yards chief in 2020). In Orlando, there aren’t any helicopter boosters buzzing over his shoulder.

It is simply ball, man.

“We’re making an attempt to alter the narrative to recruits we’re not one of many higher non-Energy 5 applications,” Malzahn mentioned. “We’ll be one of many higher applications in all of college football.”

Eight weeks after being fired at Auburn, Malzahn saddled up once more for what guarantees to be the experience of his life. That is saying one thing for a coach who has the seventh-best lively profitable proportion (a minimum of 100 profession video games). It feels so much like 2006 when Malzahn was picked out of the Arkansas highschool ranks to start his school profession with the Razorbacks.

It looks like beginning over.

School Soccer Playoff growth has largely neglected the dialogue of the UCF prospects. As proposed, the 12-team playoff would come with the highest six convention champions. That every one however assures the American champion a playoff spot. Do not forget the convention’s champion has earned a New 12 months’s Six berth in 5 of the primary even years of the CFP. UCF in 2018 and Cincinnati in 2020 — each ranked No. 8 on the finish — would theoretically have been in a 12-team playoff.

“That modified every thing for us,” Malzahn mentioned of growth talks. “Once I initially obtained right here, I instantly began pondering, ‘How can we get within the four-team playoff?’ It has been confirmed you may go undefeated right here. … Now, it is [11] groups, it is arrange actually good for us.”

The season can’t begin with out correct introduction of the brand new Gus. This one is not muted by overarching forces at Auburn. This one is not flip flopping over play calling.

“That is what I like to do,” Malzahn mentioned. “That is actually what obtained me to the place I’m immediately. I am going to try this the remainder of my profession. There isn’t any extra of that back-and-forth stuff.”

Malzahn has come out of his shell, the one which saved him within the stoic SEC coach mould. No extra.

The phrases got here out of his mouth: “It is a future of faculty soccer.” So the UCF administration erected a sequence of billboards across the state, together with Gainesville, the house of the Florida Gators.

This is not trolling, this a five-star problem. Former UCF AD Danny White chided Florida for not enjoying his program in a home-and-home; he refused efforts made by the Gators to create a commonplace 2-for-1 sequence with the Knights. Mohajir jumped on the chance this offseason. Florida and UCF will play three time beginning in 2024.

“It was actually me pondering this might be this system of the longer term,” Malzahn mentioned. “I believe I obtained employed at 9 p.m. Sunday night time in Auburn, Alabama. I did a presser [in Orlando] at midday Jap. I did not have a complete lot of time to essentially prep. It simply actually form of got here out. This is without doubt one of the applications of the longer term.

“I believe every thing is ready up. Basis has been set.” | Gus Malzahn relishes probability to start out over as a ball coach whereas serving to UCF elevate its nationwide profile


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