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Friday March 5th, 2021 11:16AM

AP source: UCF close to hiring ex-Auburn coach Malzahn

By The Associated Press
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Central Florida is close to a deal to make former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn the Knights’ next coach.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Monday that UCF and Malzahn are finalizing an agreement that would bring him to the school in Orlando, Florida, a little more than two months after he was fired by Auburn.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because a deal was not yet complete. The Orlando Sentinel first reported Sunday night UCF had offered Malzahn the job.

Malzahn went 68-35 in eight seasons with the Tigers, including 39-27 in the Southeasteastern Conference.

UCF lost both its athletic director (Danny White) and football coach (Josh Heupel) to Tennessee last month. UCF hired Terry Mohajir as AD last week. Mohajir was the athletic director at Arkansas State during Malzahn’s one season at the Sun Belt school.

UCF has been one of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference since joining the league in 2013. The Knights have won the conference three times and played in three BCS or New Year's six bowls.

Coach Scott Frost led UCF to an unbeaten season in 2017, capped by a Peach Bowl victory against Auburn and Malzahn. Heupel took over in 2018 and led the Knights to another unbeaten regular season before losing in the Fiesta Bowl to LSU.

The Knights fell off last year to 6-4.

Auburn fired Malzahn, paying a $22 million contract buyout to the coach, after the Tigers went 6-4 this past season.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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