The Case for Gus Malzahn…at WVU.


Sports by Brooks reported earlier this week that Gus Malzahn was not interested in the head coaching job at Vanderbilt because he was holding out for a better position. Brooks also reported that WVU was interested in Malzahn. If Bill Stewart is fired or retires at the end of the season (yes, Bill has openly stated he has no interest in retiring), then I would fully expect WVU’s new Athletic Director, Oliver Luck, to make inquiries into Malzahn’s interest in becoming the new head football coach at WVU.

Who is Gus Malzahn? Gus has compiled an impressive resume in a short period at Arkansas, Tulsa and Auburn. His tenure as a high school coach in Arkansas was both impressive and legendary. In 2005, his high school squad at Springdale (AK) went 14-0, won the Arkansas Class 5A championship, outscored its opponents 664-118, including a 54-20 victory over West Memphis in the state championship game, and was ranked among the top 10 teams in the United States.  After 5 years at Springdale High School, Malzahn joined the Arkansas staff as Offensive Coordinator on December 9, 2005.  Overall, Malzahn spent 14 seasons as a successful Arkansas High School head coach, where he led five teams to the state championship games and won three titles.

After one year at Arkansas, Malzahn was named the National Offensive Coordinator of the Year by  Rumored tension between Malzahn and Coach Houston Nutt may have lead to Malzahn’s early departure after only one year at the helm.  In January 2007, Malzahn joined his friend, the new head coach at Tulsa, Todd Graham.  If the name sounds familiar, Todd Graham was the WVU Linebackers Coach in 2001 and Co-Defensive Coordinator in 2002. During the 2007 season under Malzahn, Tulsa became one of the most prolific offensive teams in college football history. In 2007, Tulsa led the nation in total offense at 543.9 yards a game, and Tulsa became the first team in NCAA history with a 5,000-yard passer, three 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard running back.  In 2008, Tulsa had 7,980 total yards of offense averaging 570 yards per game while scoring over 47 points per game.

In December 2008, Malzahn was named the offensive coordinator at Auburn University by then first year head coach Gene Chizik.  Auburn’s offense has flourished under Malzahn. During his first year at Auburn, his offense set numerous school records including points in a season (433), most total yards of offense in a season (5,613), most passing touchdowns in a season (25) and most plays in a season (914).  During Malzahn’s first season, Auburn went from 110th to 17th in the nation in scoring offense and from 104th to 16th in total offense.  It also took Auburn just six games in 2009 to score more points than the entire 2008 season.   This season Auburn sets at 12-0 and Ranked No. 1 in the Nation entering this weekend’s SEC Title Game.  Auburn’s offense this season averages 41 points per game and ranks 7th in the nation in scoring and 6th in rushing.

Many have described Malzahn as one of the most innovative offensive minds in all of football.  Yes, we heard this expression used in the past when WVU hired a little known offensive coordinator from Clemson named Rich Rodriguez.  If WVU gets the opportunity to hire Malzahn as its new head coach, it would be foolish not to jump at the opportunity.  Some offensive weapons are in place with Geno Smith and Tavon Austin returning next season and with TCU entering the Big East in 2012, WVU can ill afford to remain in its stagnant football state. It is time for a head coaching change and Malzahn would be a great hire by Oliver Luck.  Malzahn would renew the offensive excitement in the Big East and energize the WVU fan base.  His offensive philosophy and schemes have been feared and admired by opposing coaches.  His reputation has gained national exposure this year because of Cam Newton and Auburn’s improbable run towards the BCS Title.  Recruiting talented players to play in his offensive system will be easy thanks to Cam Newton this year. The mere thought of a Malzahn offense playing at Mountaineer Field makes me giddy.

Dwayne Watts, aka The Sports Dude, can be followed on Twitter @ImTheSportsDude at!/ImTheSportsDude .  His sports blog posts are also available at Dwayne is a California licensed attorney and a frequent guest columnist at