AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn hired former Florida coach Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator Friday, hoping he can rebuild a defense that struggled badly late in the season.
“I’m excited to welcome Will back to Auburn as our new defensive coordinator,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said. “Will is a one of the top defensive minds in college football who has great passion and energy for the game. He is a tremendous addition to our staff.”
A person with knowledge of the move said Muschamp will make $1.6 million a year, making him one of college football’s highest paid assistants. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the school didn’t release terms of the deal.
“My family, Carol, Jackson, Whit, and I are excited about coming back to Auburn and I look forward to working with coach Malzahn to win championships,” Muschamp said.
Muschamp will be introduced at a news conference Saturday.
He coached Florida’s final two regular-season games after being fired Nov. 16. Muschamp posted a 28-21 record in four seasons during an up-and-down tenure that included an 11-2 record and SEC coach of the year honors in 2012.
The Gators’ biggest struggles came on offense not on the side of the ball that is Muschamp’s specialty.
Malzahn fired longtime Southeastern Conference defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson after the season. The Tigers (8-4) will face Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in a season when they had national championship aspirations until defensive problems contributed to a late collapse. Auburn ended the regular season with a 55-44 loss to no 1 Alabama.
The Tigers allowed an average of 483 yards and 39 points over their last six SEC games, losing four of them.
Muschamp was Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 2006-07, and led the nation’s third-ranked scoring defense, allowing 15.4 points per game. He was a finalist for the 2007 Broyles Award given to the nation’s top assistant coach. Muschamp then spent three seasons as defensive coordinator at Texas before taking over the Florida program.
He was also defensive coordinator at LSU from 2002-04 and was the Miami Dolphins’ assistant head coach for defense in 2005 under current Alabama coach Nick Saban. He coached in national championship games in 2003 with LSU and 2009 with Texas.
Muschamp’s teams ranked among the nation’s top 10 in total defense in each of his five seasons as an SEC defensive coordinator.
His teams twice led the nation in rushing defense.
Muschamp’s Texas defenses led the nation with 119 sacks from 2008-10. Auburn struggled to get pressure on the quarterback last season.
This is actually his third stop at Auburn, where he was a graduate assistant from 1995-96.