Gus Malzahn was officially introduced as the new Auburn head football coach Tuesday night, beginning a new era on the Plains.
"War Eagle! I stand up in front of you today, and I'm just tickled to death." Malzahn said. "It's a true honor for me to be the head coach of the Auburn Tigers. I spent three years here, and I can honestly say it was the three best years of our life, for my family and myself. I feel connected forever being an Auburn man with the Auburn family."
Athletic director Jay Jacobs said Malzahn was the "unanimous choice" of the search committee to become the 26th head coach in Auburn school history. The committee consisted of Jacobs, Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Mac Crawford.
"I got a chance to interview a lot of different times, this was a different committee." Malzahn said. "And I was proud to be a former, whether I got the job or not, I was proud to be a former Auburn person and watch the way they went about their business, first class. It is an honor that they chose me."
Malzahn's second career head coaching job comes less than one year after landing his first head coaching position at Arkansas State. He led the Red Wolves to nine wins and a Sun Belt Conference Championship in his first and only season in Jonesboro, Ark.
"I will do everything in my power to make the Auburn Tigers successful. Our players are going to be great examples of the university, on and off the field. They are going to be men of character. I just got through talking to them. That's the first thing I expect for them. The winning will take care of itself."
Malzahn is well-known for his up-tempo offenses, and as the Auburn offensive coordinator in 2010, he guided the Tigers to record-setting numbers on their way to a BCS National Championship. Now, as the Tigers' head coach, his plan is to resurrect an offense that ranked near the bottom of the NCAA in 2012.
"We will have a fast-paced offense." Malzahn said. "I believe, this day and time, it's a great advantage. We will run the football, that will be our staple. We're a run-play-action team. We will have a defense that is attacking. These days with all these spread offenses and the things that they do, you've gotta have a multiple defense, and we will be attacking in all areas. It'll be fun for our fans, and we will get this thing turned around. My goal for this, is to get this thing turned around and play championship football like Auburn expects."
Malzahn took questions from the media following his opening statement.On having recruiting advantage being only one year removed as Auburn offensive coordinator:
"Well, we're going to recruit the best players in America, that are the best fit for us both on and off the field. I will get familiar with these guys, and we will hit the ground recruiting as soon as this is over with."On the financial terms of his deal with Auburn:
Malzahn did not answer. Jay Jacobs later said that Malzahn will make $2.3 million annually over five years.On what he told the Auburn team upon his arrival:
"Well, first of all, I just told them that it was an honor to be back as their head coach. I'm very familiar with a lot of them. A matter of fact, I recruited a lot of them and have very good relationships. I just told them our expectations are to win championships. Whatever happened last year, happened last year. It's a new day. Our expectations are going to be high. Nobody is going to outwork us. We're going to put a good brand of football on the field, and we're going to have fun doing it."On what he learned in his one year at Arkansas State:
"Of course, I was a head coach in high school for 15 years, so as far as on-the-field stuff, it's the same. But for college football, it's off the field you've got to get used to. It was a great learning experience for me. I learned a lot. I feel very prepared coming in here."On future assistant coaches:
"I tell you what, I'm going to take my time, and find the right fit for us. We are going to hire men of character that will be great examples for our players first, and then they are going to be great coaches and recruiters. So I'm going to take my time to try and get the best person wherever he is."On whether or not he will give Gene Chizik's assistants a chance to be retained:
"I'm going to get the best fit for Auburn, not matter whether it's guys that are here, guys that are with me or guys at other places. And I'm going to take my time, and I think that is so important, the staff. So I'm going to take my time with it."On if the NCAA investigation had an effect on his decision to take the Auburn job:
"Yea, I feel very confident that everything is fine, and that's behind us."On what he will do following his news conference:
"It's going to be recruiting, immediately, to get caught up with everything. Also, it will be hiring a staff. It will also be meeting with players. So, there's not going to be a lot of time to rest, but this is an exciting time and really looking forward to it."On what he enjoys about being a head coach:
"I enjoy being a head football coach. Like I said earlier, 15 years of being a head football coach, and I got a chance to be a coordinator for six. So being a head football coach is very natural to me, and last year definitely helped, and I thoroughly enjoyed it."On if he will coach Arkansas State in their bowl game:
"I need to talk with our administration and all that. But I'll say this, I am 100 percent committed to Auburn, and getting this thing going as soon as possible."On if it was tough to leave after one year at Arkansas State:
"Well, I get extremely close to my players and anytime that you do that, it is tough to leave. Arkansas State was very good to me and my family. The players were unbelievable, and it was tough to say bye. At the same time, I'm so excited to be here, with players that I'm already familiar with, and I'm really looking forward to coaching these guys."On Auburn's offensive struggles in 2012 and how much he watched of them:
"I got a chance to watch very little. When you're a coach of another team, you don't have time to watch other teams on TV and all that, so I watched very little."On if he has talked to Gene Chizik since his firing and his feelings watching Auburn struggle:
"I have not got a chance to talk to Gene since that, but I will. From afar, I take a lot of pride in Auburn, and I was hurting for them. I was hurting for them."On is he worried about job security given that Chizik was fired two years after national championship:
"All I'm worried about is what I'm doing moving forward and getting this thing turned around, and getting to a championship level. That's the only thing on my mind, and we're going to get it done. Obviously, there is going to be some challenges, but here's the good thing about it, I know those challenges. I'm very familiar with the personnel and we're going to get this thing turned around."On what his message is to the Auburn family:
"It's a new day. It's a new day, and my goal is to get Auburn back to a championship level. Like we said, two years ago, we won a championship. The expectations at Auburn is to win championships, and that's my goal, and we're going to do everything in our power to get that done."On how much he will have a say on the defensive side of the ball:
"Well, I think as a head coach, you have to have a philosophy. And all your offense, your defense and your special teams, all has to fit into that philosophy. Like I said, we will be a fast-paced attacking style offense and defense. This day and time, I believe you have to. So I will be on top of every area of our team. At the same time, our coaches will be able to coach. But I will be on top of all areas."On a timetable for making assistant coaching hires:
"The coordinators are obviously the priority. That's the goal we will go after first. I do have some people in mind and we will definitely visit with them."On his reaction to the Auburn fans at the airport:
"It was unbelievable. It was an unbelievable experience. The Auburn fans are the best in the country. It hit me right when our plane landed, and we saw how many people were there. It was just an unbelievable experience."On how long he talked with committee and when he decided to take the job:
"Things happened pretty quick. Believe everything's happened probably in the last three days. It was, I believe, mid-afternoon."On getting the chance to be an SEC head coach:
"First of all, I have been very blessed at every spot that I've been in. I've been fortunate enough to have great administration, great coaches around me, great players and this situation is no different. I feel very blessed to be where I'm at."On the advantage of coaching players he is very familiar:
"I think it's a huge advantage from that standpoint, and not only the offensive guys, but I'm very familiar with a lot of the defensive guys, either watching them or helping recruit them. I'm very familiar with this team. So I think that will go a long way."On what his defensive philosophy will be:
"Well it's gotta be multiple. This day and time of just playing one front is extremely tough with all these spread, wide open offenses. You gotta be able to do both, odd and even. That's what gives offenses the most trouble."On if he could name the starting quarterback for next season:
"I have no idea. All positions will be open. I do know that we got some guys that can execute our offense and that are familiar with our offense."On if he will be calling the plays on offense:
"I will be helping with offense. I can't tell you at this time if I'll actually be calling the plays, but I will be involved. That's the best way to put it."On if he got advice from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze:
"Me and Hugh Freeze go way back. I guess we started college football the same year, both being former high school coaches. We talk quite a bit. We bounce things off each other. We talk quite a bit to answer your question."On a timetable for turning Auburn around:
"We do have some talent, and we have some deficiencies. What I go to do is identify the deficiencies and address those immediately. And the mindset, the mindset and expectations physically and mentally of our players. I know the areas we need to improve on and we're going to address those."On playing Arkansas State in week two next season:
"Yea, how about that. Yea, that's pretty ironic how that works. They're going to be a very good team."On coaching two teams in Auburn and Arkansas State in a bowl:
"Like I said earlier, we haven't crossed that bridge regarding the other thing, but there won't be a lot of sleep. This is a very fun time of year to be coaching, and I don't need much."