Arkansas State to introduce Gus Malzahn

Arkansas State will introduce Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn as its new head coach at a news conference Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

The Ft. Smith, Ark., native leaves Auburn after three years as the Tigers' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In that time, Malzahn coached one of the nation's most explosive offenses guided by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton during Auburn's 2010 national championship run.

A person close to Malzahn told ESPN's Joe Schad that Malzahn, who will stay on to call plays for the Tigers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia, was "looking for a change" from Auburn and "looking to move onto something else."

Malzahn replaces Hugh Freeze, who took over as the head coach at Ole Miss after finishing the 2011 season with a 10-2 record with the Red Wolves.

Auburn will now be searching for two coordinators. Head coach Gene Chizik will serve as defensive coordinator against Virginia after defensive coordinator Ted Roof left to take a similar job at Central Florida.

There's no question that the former high school head coach wanted to get back to heading a program. His name floated around for various head-coaching jobs in the last couple of years and was a top target for the North Carolina and Kansas openings this year. North Carolina eventually hired former Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora, while Kansas hired former Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

Chizik released a statement Wednesday supporting Malzahn's move to Arkansas State:

“I’m very happy for Gus and the opportunity that awaits him at Arkansas State. Gus has always had the strong desire to become a head coach and the chance for him to return to his home state that he is so familiar with, will be very beneficial. He’s meant a tremendous amount to our program the past three years, helping our offense and our program achieve unprecedented heights, winning a BCS National Championship and setting countless offensive records. Gus has experienced success in each stop of his coaching career and I have no doubt that he will have similar results at Arkansas State. We look forward to having Gus stay with us through the bowl game and hope to send him out with a victory.”

Check the SEC blog later for more on Malzahn and his jump to Arkansas State.