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Former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is nearing a deal to take over the vacant head football coach position at UCF, according to Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel and Stadium’s Brett McMurphy. Malzahn, 55, will take over for Josh Heupel, who left to take the Tennessee job on Jan. 27 on the heels of former Knights athletic director Danny White accepting the same position with the Volunteers.

Malzahn was 68-35 in eight seasons at Auburn from 2013-20. 

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported the news of UCF zeroing in on Malzahn for its vacant position on Sunday night. At the time, it was unknown whether he would accept the job.

Malzahn twice won the SEC West at Auburn (2013, 2017) and came within 13 seconds of topping Florida State in the 2014 BCS Championship Game following the 2013 season. His teams earned a bowl bid every year on the Plains with three appearances in New Year’s Six/BCS bowls.

Auburn fired Malzahn after the Tigers went 6-4 this season. That mark included a road loss to a South Carolina team that went 2-8 and a 42-13 blowout defeat at the hands of rival Alabama. Despite that result, Malzahn’s Tigers topped the Crimson Tide three times during his eight seasons, including a 48-45 win to close out the 2019 regular season.

During his first stint at Auburn as its offensive coordinator (2009-11), Malzahn helped the program win the 2010 national championship.

New UCF athletic director Terry Mohajir held the same position at Arkansas State from 2012-20. Malzahn led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record in his first season as a head coach in 2012. It was speculated upon Mohajir’s hiring that Malzahn could be a candidate for the Knights, but it was unknown whether he was interested in jumping into a new opportunity right away after departing Auburn.