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Gus Malzahn's first UCF staff is set

Note:UCF has announced an additional hire since this article was published Wednesday morning, completing the staff.

As of this writing, Gus Malzahn has been UCF's head coach for all of nine days (official hire date: Feb 15), and so far he's averaging one assistant coaching hire per day. The newest of all FBS head coaches hit the ground in a dead sprint, fully prepared to take advantage of the best job in the Group of 5.

With 11 of his 11 senior on-field staff positions now filled, six have direct connections to Malzahn and five are new passengers on the Gus Bus. Nine years of head coaching experience behind him, Malzahn has a small universe of former assistants and players (and in one case, a former player and assistant) from which to choose. At the same time, Gus's climb to the head coaching chair was different than most, with just six seasons as an assistant following 15 years in the Arkansas high school ranks, so he hasn't worked with that many coaches compared to other HFCs with a near decade's worth of experience.

Without further ado, here the 2021 UCF coaching staff, ranked in descending order by their connection to the head man:

Travis Williams, defensive coordinator
Official hire date: Feb. 16
Previous stop: Auburn, via Miami

Williams played at Auburn during the Tommy Tuberville years, then returned as a defensive GA during Gus's run as the Tigers' offensive coordinator. He then returned to the Plains as a defensive assistant on Gus's staff, eventually working his way up to co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. A FootballScoop Linebackers Coach of the Year finalist, he'd previously agreed to coach linebackers at Miami before his old boss took the UCF job.

Brian Blackmonspecial teams coordinator/tight ends
Official hire date: Feb. 21
Previous stop: Troy

Blackmon is Gus's favorite type of coach: a former high school guy whose entry into college football came as a Malzahn support staffer. After a 9-year run at nearby Opelika High School, Blackmon joined the Auburn staff as an analyst in 2017. He then joined Troy's staff in 2018 and stayed on when former Malzahn assistant Chip Lindsey took over in 2019, taking over special teams duties while coaching running backs.

GJ Kinne, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Official hire date: Feb. 21
Previous stop: Hawai'i

Kinne left his job as Hawai'i's offensive coordinator to return to the mainland as a non-play calling co-coordinator for his former OC. After signing with Texas out of Gilmer (Texas) High School, Kinne transferred to Tulsa, where he spent the 2008 season sitting in meetings with Malzahn, then the Golden Hurricane's assistant head coach, co-coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kinne never played for Malzahn -- transfers used to have to sit out a year, kids -- and Gus was off to Auburn by the time he became Tulsa's starter in 2009. His coordinator for that '09 season: his new colleague Herb Hand (more in him in a bit.)

For the 2010-11 seasons, Kinne would be coached by a former Texas high school coach named Chad Morris, a friend and protege of Malzahn's. After a 5-year professional career, Kinne would later work as a GA and analyst for Morris at SMU and Arkansas. At Hawai'i, Kinne worked under Todd Graham, the Hurricane's head coach when he was a 'Cane quarterback and Malzahn an assistant.

Kenny Ingram, defensive assistant
Official hire date: Feb. 24
Previous stop: Arkansas State

Ingram worked for Malzahn in three different roles. First, he was Gus's defensive line coach for his Malzahn's season as Arkansas State's head coach. Ingram joined Malzahn's new Auburn staff as director of player development in 2013-14, then returned as director of player relations from 2017-18. He left to coach defensive tackles at Arkansas in 2019 and spent 2020 volunteering for A State.

Herb Hand, offensive line
Official hire date: Feb. 18
Previous stop: Texas, via Charlotte

Hand worked alongside Malzahn for two years at Tulsa, then under him as Auburn's offensive line coach in 2016-17. Hand accepted the Charlotte O-line job following the breakup of Tom Herman's Texas staff, then left the 49ers to reunite with Gus.

Addison Williams, cornerbacks
Official hire date: Feb. 22
Previous stop: Coastal Carolina

Williams played at South Carolina, then immediately began coaching as a student assistant in 2010. His first full-time jobs came at Tusculum and Furman, earning a promotion to Furman's defensive coordinator spot in the spring of 2019 before leaving to become an analyst and assistant to the head coach at Auburn for the fall of '19. That led to a job coaching safeties for Coastal Carolina in 2020.

Tim "Ice" Harris, Jr., co-offensive coordinator/running backs
Official hire date: Feb. 21
Previous stop: FIU

Another guy who left his coordinator job to be a non-play calling coordinator at UCF, Harris has and Gus have never worked together before. Ice played at Miami, then began coaching at Miami's Booker T. Washington High School in 2009, then became head coach in 2014. He joined FIU's staff in 2015 and was set to become the Panthers' offensive coordinator for the '21 campaign before heading north to Orlando.

David Gibbs, co-defensive coordinator/secondary
Official hire date: Feb. 18
Previous stop: Missouri

Perhaps the most traditional background among Malzahn's assistants, Gibbs has been in the business for three decades and never crossed paths with his new boss. Gibbs's career has taken him across the country and to the NFL and the United Football League, including a 2005 stint as Auburn's defensive coordinator, when Gus was the head coach at Springdale High School. Best I can tell, Malzahn and Gibbs have never coached against each other, either.

Darrell Wyatt, wide receivers
Official hire date: Feb. 23
Previous stop: UCF

Like Gibbs, Wyatt is a veteran who's short on Malzahn connections but long on big-time experience. His first college job came in 1989 and he's changed jobs 19 times in the three decades since. UCF's wide receivers coach since 2018, sticking around for the 2021 campaign means Orlando ties his 2002-05 run at Oklahoma for the longest stop of his career: four years.

Chris Dawson, head strength coach
Official hire date: Feb. 19
Previous stop: Kansas State

Officially UCF's director of sports performance, Dawson represents Malzahn's strongest hire on the merits. A guy who'd run strength departments at Power 5 programs for the last 20 seasons left his job at K-State to work for Gus at UCF.

Kenny Martin, defensive assistant
Official hire date: Feb. 23
Previous stop: Western Kentucky

Martin was not assigned a position when he was announced on Tuesday, but it seems likely he'll coach tackles with Ingram handling ends. That's the position Martin coached from 2018-20 at WKU, to date his only experience as a full-time FBS assistant. The former Florida and Kentucky high school coach also handled the entire defensive line at Division II Virginia-Wise in 2015.