Auburn coordinator Gus Malzahn agreed Tuesday to become Arkansas State's new football coach, replacing Hugh Freeze, sources close to the coach confirmed to ESPN.com.
Malzahn will return to his home state and become a college head coach for the first time. As offensive coordinator at Auburn, Malzahn helped lead Cam Newton and the Tigers to the BCS national championship in January.
A person close to Malzahn said that not only was the coach looking for a head-coaching opportunity but that he was "looking for a change" from Auburn and "looking to move onto something else."
Malzahn, who nearly took the Vanderbilt position and was a top target for Kansas and North Carolina jobs earlier this year, was willing to take a relatively large pay cut, the source said, to step up to a new coaching challenge.
Malzahn will take over for Freeze, who agreed last week to take the Ole Miss head-coaching position.
The 42-year-old Freeze led Arkansas State to the 2011 Sun Belt
Conference championship and 10-2 record in his first season as a
coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Arkansas State (10-2) will play Northern Illinois in the Godaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 8.
Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.