A teary-eyed Malzahn broke the news to his colleagues at Tulsa informing that he was accepting the Auburn job, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman.
Malzahn brings a no-huddle, fast-paced attack to the Tigers, who abandoned a struggling spread offense in midseason and returned to a more smashmouth style.
Tulsa led the nation in total offense in 2007 and ranks second going into the Jan. 6 GMAC Bowl against Ball State in Mobile.
Malzahn, who spent one season as offensive coordinator at Arkansas, will join Auburn's staff after the bowl game.
"Gus is one of the great offensive minds in college football and we are very excited to have him join the Auburn staff," Chizik said. "His track record at all levels of coaching is remarkable and his offenses have been extremely successful both running and passing the ball."
Tulsa ranks eighth nationally in rushing and Arkansas was fourth during Malzahn's season behind Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden. The Razorbacks never made the switch to his wide-open offense and Malzahn left for Tulsa.
Tulsa is averaging 565 yards and 47 points this season, both second nationally.
"This is an exciting opportunity to coach at Auburn, get involved with the Auburn family and work for Coach Chizik," said Malzahn, who won three Arkansas state titles at two high schools. "I can't wait to get to Auburn and get started."
Tulsa coach Todd Graham announced that after Malzahn's departure, Herb Hand will become the Golden Hurricane's lone offensive coordinator. He had shared the position with Malzahn.
Graham also promoted graduate assistant Mike Norvell to receivers coach and passing game coordinator, and said special teams coordinator Bill Blankenship will also serve as quarterbacks coach.
"One thing is certain: Our offense will remain the same as it has been in my entire head coaching career, as a no-huddle spread offense," Graham said.
The Tigers ranked 11th in the Southeastern Conference in scoring, managing just 17.3 points a game. Coach Tommy Tuberville fired first-year coordinator Tony Franklin in midseason after the spread offense failed to take off.
Tuberville resigned under pressure after Auburn struggled to a 5-7 record.
Chizik has also retained linebackers coach James Willis from the previous staff.
Bruce Feldman is a senior college football writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.