If the Arkansas St. Red Wolves really are about to unveil Auburn Tigers offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn as their next head coach, much of the credit for breaking the news should go to Pete Roussel (in addition to Charles Goldberg), who tweeted the following around 5 p.m. ET Tuesday evening:
@coachingsearch I'm told that Arkansas State has put together a 6-year deal at $600,000 + for Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
Financial terms and everything. It sounds like the deal involves a little bit more money than that, but Roussel was certainly in the ballpark. Either way, the point here is Broyles Award winner Malzahn will be making at least half a million less than he was making at Auburn, and taking on greater responsibility in the process.
Whatever the number ends up being, it's something like three or four times what Hugh Freeze made in 2011 as ASU's head coach. Malzahn will likely be the highest paid coach in the Sun Belt. That sentence felt so strange to type. Try it yourself here: _____________________________________.
For many, the sticking point in all this ... how did Malzahn fall from turning down a $3 million-per-year offer with Vanderbilt to taking a pay cut just to land in Jonesboro, Arkansas, at a school that had never won six games in a year until 2011?
For one, we could be dealing with a man who values things beyond money. There are a few of those. He may also just really like the state. He's 46 years old, and as far as I can tell, has spent just five years of his adult life based outside of Arkansas. He went to high school and college there and coached there until 2006.
Another theory, if you don't buy that he would've accepted any head job that would allow him to return home: he'd thought he would've been able to do better than Vandy in 2011, but found that interviews at UNC and Kansas didn't go as hoped, which left only ASU (and, you know, the other ASU).
And, FWIW, some have speculated Kristi Malzahn's aggressively edited rant video may have harmed her husband's changes of landing a top job.