FAYETTEVILLE -- After learning this past weekend that his role as Arkansas' offensive coordinator was going to be diminished, Gus Malzahn decided it was in his best interest to accept a position at the University of Tulsa, a source close to the team said Monday.

Wasting little time, Malzahn was named early Monday as Tulsa's assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator, joining the staff of new Golden Hurricane coach Todd Graham.

"I think it's the right fit," Malzahn said in a statement released by Tulsa. "My relationship with Coach Graham was important, and our offensive philosophies are very similar -- a no-huddle spread-type philosophy."

The source, who didn't want to be identified, said that Malzahn spoke with Arkansas coach Houston Nutt on Saturday and asked him if Malzahn would remain as the team's offensive coordinator.

According to the source, Nutt told Malzahn that there were plans to bring in David Lee -- who is responsible for offensive quality control with the Dallas Cowboys -- to be a co-offensive coordinator. That would mean a decreased role for Malzahn, who also served as Arkansas' wide receivers coach.

Graham has already said that Malzahn will call the offensive plays at Tulsa, though former West Virginia assistant Herb Hand will also serve as a co-offensive coordinator. Malzahn is expected to implement a no-huddle spread offense that he became known for as Springdale High's highly successful coach.

"We're very proud to have moved Gus from high school to (the) college (ranks), and he did a great job for us," Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles said. ""He's going to another job, and we wish him the best."

Broyles, however, refused to comment on whether Malzahn left Arkansas after being told that he would be demoted to co-offensive coordinator.

Arkansas, meanwhile, was working Monday on a way to hire Lee as the team's sole offensive coordinator, as well as take over as the quarterbacks coach, the source said. That would imply that Alex Wood is out after serving as the quarterbacks coach with the Razorbacks for only one season.

Lee has already worked twice as an assistant at Arkansas, first under Ken Hatfield (1984-88) and then again as a quarterbacks coach under Nutt from 2001-02. Lee considered returning to Arkansas as the offensive coordinator before Malzahn was hired in December 2005.

Malzahn's departure after only one season came as a surprise, especially considering that he had often referred to being the school's offensive coordinator as a "dream job."

In addition, Nutt repeatedly had said since late December that a contract extension was being worked out for Malzahn to remain with the Razorbacks. Nutt said as recently as last Tuesday that an extension was still in the works.

"It was a surprise," Arkansas running backs coach Danny Nutt said of Malzahn's departure. "I didn't have a clue."

This past season, Malzahn was credited with bringing some new formations and trick plays to Arkansas' offense. The Razorbacks went 10-4 and finished No. 15, the team's highest ranking to end a season since 1989.

But even before the season started, there was talk that some of Arkansas' assistant coaches had animosity with Malzahn. And there was also plenty of debate throughout the season over who was actually calling the plays, whether it was Malzahn or Houston Nutt.

Nutt didn't return multiple messages left on his cell phone Monday.

"I wish (Malzahn) nothing but the best both personally and professionally as he takes on his new role," Nutt said in a statement released through the university.

The decision by Malzahn to leave for Tulsa has created much uncertainty over whether several of his former Springdale High players will decide to transfer, perhaps to join him with the Golden Hurricane.

Quarterback Mitch Mustain and tight end Ben Cleveland considered transferring before Arkansas faced No. 7 Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1. Both players decided to stay with the Razorbacks, in large part because of their relationships with Malzahn.

Rick Cleveland said Monday that his son has not left Arkansas, and Beck Campbell -- Mustain's mother -- said her son hasn't transferred to another school. Arkansas' spring semester begins today.

Mustain is familiar with Lee, who helped tutor the quarterback when he was younger. But Mustain and Malzahn have a relationship from their time together at Springdale High where Mustain was widely regarded as the nation's top quarterback prospect in 2005.

"I really can't comment other than to say I'm shocked," Campbell said of Malzahn's decision. "(But) I think it speaks volumes."

Malzahn's departure could be addressed with Arkansas' players when they gather at 4 p.m. today for a meeting that was scheduled before Monday's announcement.

Morning News preps editor Kurt Voigt contributed to this report.


Gus Malzahn, defensive coordinator at Hughes in east Arkansas for one season, is hired to become the Blue Devils new head football coach. Hughes finishes 4-6 in Malzahn's first season.


Malzahn, after compiling a 28-17 record in four seasons at Hughes, is named the new head coach at Shiloh Christian in Springdale


Malzahn wins his first state championship as a head coach, defeating Hector 49-14 in the Class AA state championship game. The Saints averaged 45.5 points per game and finished 15-0.

Feb. 1999

At a special meeting of the Benton School Board, Malzahn is introduced as the new head coach at Benton. He left the job 12 days later to return to Shiloh, citing a "personal decision."

Dec. 1999

The Saints, under Malzahn, win their second consecutive state championship with a 47-35 win over Carlisle. Again, Shiloh finishes 15-0, averaging 46.8 points per game.


Shiloh loses 30-29 in overtime to Rison in the state championship game, ending a 44-game unbeaten streak with Malzahn at the helm. It would be the last game Malzahn would coach at Shiloh, where he ended with a 63-8-1 record in five seasons.


Malzahn is hired as the head coach at Springdale High, replacing legendary Bulldogs coach Jarrell Williams. In his first season, Springdale finishes 7-4.


In his second season at Springdale, Malzahn leads the Bulldogs to the Class AAAAA state championship game. Springdale loses the game to Fort Smith Southside, ending its season at 12-2.


Led by quarterback Mitch Mustain and several other top juniors, Springdale opens the season 12-0 before falling to Little Rock Central in the state semifinals.

Dec. 3, 2005

Springdale earns the school's first state championship since 1989 with a 54-20 win over West Memphis. The Bulldogs finish the season 14-0 and ranked as high as No. 2 nationally, battling the distractions provided the highly publicized recruitments of Mustain and his teammates along the way.

Dec. 9, 2005

Malzahn is announced as the new offensive coordinator at Arkansas, making the leap from high school to college with praise from Razorbacks head coach Houston Nutt and promises of Malzahn's hurry up, no huddle offense coming to the Southeastern Conference.

Jan. 1 2007

Malzahn coaches in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., where the Razorbacks fall to Wisconsin. The loss is the third straight for Arkansas, which ends its season 10-4 in Malzahn's first year.

Jan. 15, 2007

Malzahn leaves Arkansas to become assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator at Tulsa.

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