Malzahn agrees to seven-year deal to stay at Auburn
AUBURN — Gus Malzahn isn’t going anywhere in the near future.
Sources familiar with the contract negotiations confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser that Malzahn has agreed in principle on a seven-year contract with Auburn University to remain the Tigers’ head coach.
“Strength and stability go hand-in-hand, and we have both in Coach Malzahn,” said Auburn president Steven Leath in a statement released Sunday evening. “We’re excited for the future of Auburn football. This means a lot to the Auburn family.”
ESPN college football reporter Chris Low reported Sunday evening that according to unnamed sources Malzahn’s new deal is worth a total of $49 million, and Malzahn will make more than $7 million in the final year of the deal.
The contract, which has not been released to the public or media, reportedly includes more years added on the deal, a significant raise from the $4,726,960 figure Malzahn received this past season on a deal that was set through the 2020 season. Malzahn’s salary figure for the 2017 season didn’t include bonuses from winning the SEC Western Division or reaching a New Year’s Six bowl game. Seventh-ranked Auburn (10-3) will face Central Florida (12-0) in the Peach Bowl on Jan. 1.
Malzahn’s new contract also reportedly includes a bigger buyout if Auburn chooses to terminate the deal before its conclusion.
When addressed with questions about his employment Sunday, Malzahn continued to stick to a familiar refrain.
“I’m planning on being at Auburn,” Malzahn said during the Peach Bowl media teleconference, the coach’s most recent time to speak with reporters. “I told them last night that’s where I wanted to be and nothing has changed.”
Malzahn’s answer Sunday came 16 hours after he addressed rumors of a pending offer from the University of Arkansas. At the time, Malzahn wasn’t completely definitive that he would be coaching at Auburn in the 2018 season.
Malzahn, who was one win away from his second SEC title Saturday and Auburn’s first trip to the College Football Playoff, has been the source of several reports regarding the opening in his native Arkansas. He was a walk-on wide receiver for the Razorbacks and is a member of the state Hall of Fame after a historic high school coaching career.
“I’m happy at Auburn. We have great players. I love my players,” Malzahn said. “As I said before this game, we worked extremely hard to get here to this point, and we’ve got a very good foundation built, and I think the best is yet to come.”
Malzahn, who has a 45-21 record at Auburn, has expressed irritation over several media reports linking him to the opening at Arkansas even before school officials announced the termination of head coach Bret Bielema on Nov. 24.
With Kevin Sumlin, Bret Bielema and Dan Mullen changing jobs in the league, Malzahn is now tied for the second-longest tenured head coach in the SEC with Kentucky’s Mark Stoops. Nick Saban’s current 11-year stretch at Alabama is the second-longest of any Power Five Conference program behind only Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. Malzahn is also the only current SEC head coach to defeat Saban.
Jimmy Sexton, Malzahn’s agent, has been busy once again this offseason as the college football coaching carousel begins to circle. Jimbo Fisher, a Sexton client, agreed this week to leave Florida State for a reportedly guaranteed 10-year contract with Texas A&M worth $75 million total of the course of the deal.
Willie Taggart, another Sexton client, could choose soon either to take Fisher’s place at FSU or remain at the University of Oregon for presumably a larger and lengthier contract. Dan Mullen, another Sexton client, agreed to leave Mississippi State this past week for a new deal to become the next head coach at the University of Florida.
The report of Malzahn’s new deal is certainly a different tenor than was suggested by fans a few months ago after Auburn’s second loss of 2017 season at LSU on Oct. 14. Malzahn said immediately afterward the loss “wasn’t the end of the world” after blowing a 20-0 lead in Baton Rouge, La., and leading to fans and analysts of the program to more than suggest a change in leadership could be forthcoming soon.
Auburn managed to win five straight games, including two against previous top-ranked teams in the College Football Playoff rankings before Saturday to Georgia.
The rumors of Malzahn’s job tenure at Auburn were heightened after Jay Jacobs announced in November that he would step down from his athletic director position on June 1, 2018, or sooner if his successor is in place. Leath recently said he’s hoping to announce a new AD by January.