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Sources: Gus Malzahn a strong candidate at UCF

Gus Malzahn is a strong candidate to become the next head coach at UCF, sources told FootballScoop on Sunday. The Orlando Sentinelreported Sunday night the school has offered the former Auburn coach the job.

Malzahn has remained out of sight since his Dec. 13 firing by Auburn, but could be poised to return to the best job in the Group of 5 while reuniting with his former colleague at Arkansas State.

UCF hired Terry Mohajir as its new AD last week. Mohajir inherited Malzahn as his head coach when he took the Arkansas State AD job in 2012, a season in which Malzahn went 9-3 and won the Sun Belt before leaving for Auburn.

Mohajir made Bryan Harsin (ironically, Malzahn's replacement at Auburn) and Blake Anderson first-time head coaches at A-State, but hired Butch Jones to lead the Red Wolves this past cycle following Anderson's departure for Utah State.

A Malzahn hire would continue Mohajir's trend of hiring veteran head coaches over first-timers, and represent the biggest hire in UCF's short but proud football history. The Knights hired former Georgia Tech head coach George O'Leary in 2004, but that was after O'Leary's star was permanently tarnish when he was fired by Notre Dame for embellishing his resume.

In Malzahn, UCF would get a 55-year-old head coach with an SEC championship and multiple head-to-head victories over Nick Saban under his belt, a coach who was plays away from winning a national title in 2013. Malzahn never suffered a losing season in his eight seasons at Auburn, going 68-35, and won two West Division titles.

After watching Cincinnati take over UCF's birthright at the top of the American East, closing Malzahn would be a major statement that the program is dead set on remaining the class of college football's top Group of 5 conference.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.

UPDATE >> Pete Thamel tweets Monday morning that Gus and UCF are finalizing a deal and that an announcement could come as early as today.