Will Muschamp

Florida head coach Will Muschamp watches the first half of the Gators' game at Alabama Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Alabama won 42-21. Muschamp lost his job late in the season and was named defensive coordinator at Auburn.

AUBURN — Will Muschamp is coming back to Auburn.

Muschamp, who has extensive family ties to DeKalb County, will be joining head coach Gus Malzahn’s staff as defensive coordinator. Auburn University announced the hiring late Friday, and he is to be introduced at a news conference Saturday.

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.

Muschamp is reprising a role he held from 2006-07. He served as head coach at Florida from 2011-14, but was dismissed during the season.

“I’m excited to welcome Will back to Auburn as our new defensive coordinator,” Malzahn said in a statement.

“Will is 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.”

Muschamp has a long history with Alabama coach Nick Saban. They coached together when Saban led the LSU program. Muschamp was his linebackers coach in 2001 and his defensive coordinator from 2002-04.

Muschamp tagged along when the Miami Dolphins made Saban their head coach, and Muschamp served as assistant head coach for defense.

After a year, Muschamp left for Tommy Tuberville’s staff at Auburn. In 2007, Muschamp was a finalist for the 2007 Broyles Award, presented annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

He went to Texas and was Mack Brown’s defensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting from 2008-10.

In his five seasons as an SEC defensive coordinator, Muschamp’s defenses ranked among the nation’s top 10 in total defense each year.

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 is a native of Rome, Georgia. He played at the University of Georgia and was a graduate assistant at Auburn under Terry Bowden from 1995-96.

“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.

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