Malzahn Explains Why He Will Coach Bowl Game

Comments from Gus Malzahn are featured from his introduction as Arkansas State's new head football coach.

Jonesboro, Ark.--At his introductory press conference as Arkansas State's new head football coach on Wednesday, Gus Malzahn explained why he will be splitting time between his old job and his new job in the coming weeks.

Auburn's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons, Malzahn will continue that role through Auburn's Chick-fil-A Bowl Game vs. Virginia on New Year's Eve.

"I just feel like that is the right thing to do as far as the players," Malzahn said in talking about his dual roles in the month of December.

"At the same time, immediately, we are going to get on the road, on the phone, recruiting," Malzahn added. "It will not do anything to deter what we are doing here. I will coach the bowl game and I feel like it is something I need to do. I recruited those players and it is the right thing to do."

Malzahn received a rousing welcome at his formal press conference on the Arkansas State campus prior to heading to the basketball arena to be introduced to fans during a game.

Asked why he accepted the Arkansas State job this year, when passing on other jobs a year earlier, Malzahn said he felt like he is ready to be a head coach and that has been his long term goal.

"I just did not have a peace last year," he said. "This year I have a peace and I am in to building things. (Former ASU head coaches) Hugh Freeze and Steve Roberts laid the foundation. The exciting thing to me is taking this to the next level, and we are going to do that."

Prior to his press conference, Malzahn met with his new players, who finished the regular season 10-2 with one game left, a January 8th bowl vs. Northern Illinois in Mobile. Malzahn said he will be on the sideline observing the Red Wolves in action and will figure out what his role will be after he has more time to get familiar with his new job.

He also noted that he is no hurry to hire assistant coaches and will consider all of the current assistants who did not go to Ole Miss when Freeze took that job. "Most of all we are going to bring in men of integrity who will be great examples for our players," Malzahn said. "I am really going to take my time to get the right fit for Arkansas State."

A high school coach in the state of Arkansas for 14 years, Malzahn said he will consider hiring high school coaches from the state.

"It is very exciting to come home," he said. "High school football coaches in the state of Arkansas are some of my best friends. I am a big believer that this state has some of the best high school coaches in America and they develop the players. I am really looking forward to getting back those relations with those high school coaches. I am really looking forward to recruiting this state. That is very exciting for me."

Malzahn said that Arkansas State's vision of upgrading the Sun Belt Conference program is one of the reasons he decided to take the job offer. "I have always used the term ‘I am looking for the right place at the right time.' I am one of those guys I have always let the Lord lead and guide my career."

He said that ASU athletic director, Dr. Dean Lee, did a good job of getting him excited about the potential of the program. Malzahn and Lee began talking about the job opening last week, according to Lee, who taught a class in which Malzahn was a student at Henderson State.

Lee said that his hope is that Arkansas State becomes the next Boise State of college football and he believes Malzahn is the guy who can make that happen.

"That is when I knew this is the place for me," Malzahn said. "Like I told the team, buckle up because we are fixing to take this thing to the next level.

"One of the things I told them was that I am here to win championships. I sat there and looked at the foundation that Coach Roberts and Coach Freeze have laid, and both of those guys are very good friends of mine, they have done a great job of getting to this point. I sat there and looked at this program, and this is a program on the rise."

Malzahn noted that after talking to Freeze about the job, that helped convince him to make the move to Jonesboro. "He was pretty influential in me finally pulling the trigger," Malzahn stated.

The coach said in addition to running the same offensive system he used at Auburn he is a firm believer in an aggressive defense and an aggressive style of play on special teams.

"I came here to win championships, on a consistent basis," Malzahn said. "My dream and my goal with this would be to be a Top 25 team, year in and year out, and I believe we can do. I believe we are going to do it."

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