UCF announced Gus Malzahn as its ninth head football coach on Monday, and as he took the podium for his introductory press conference, the first thing he did was thank his wife, Kristi Malzahn.
“We do this thing together,” Gus said during the press conference.
AL.com reports that when UCF's new head coach met with the players as soon as the plane landed, so did his wife.
Malzahn, 55, was fired by Auburn on Dec. 13 after eight seasons and a 68-35 record, which included an SEC title in 2013. He was hired by UCF on Monday.
While she may not have called plays, AL.com reports that she brought light and laughter to the players and families during her time at Auburn. If she plays a similar role at UCF, her presence will be felt throughout the program.
“To me, the football takes care of itself,” Kristi Malzahn told AL.com. “But I feel like our calling and our job is really about young men. It’s really, the Xs and Os, yes, I know it’s important. Yes, I know we need to win. But more than that, I know that when I’m standing for accountability, it’s going to be how did I use my time and my influence with those kids. That’s what matters to me.”
From helping the new recruits navigate unfamiliar situations, to preparing their parents on what to expect, Kristi Malzahn told AL.com she really wants to get to know the guys and make an impact on the program.
“I want them to know and be able to look back and go, ‘She’s still ‘Mom’ to me,” Kristi Malzahn said. “I think right now they might not see that there’s any benefit to it, but I hope maybe someday something that they’ve heard or said or just knowing that somebody cared will matter and make a difference.”
Kristi Malzahn told AL.com she'll let Gus worry about the strategy, while she worries about the team's hearts.
“The more that we love them, the more they’re going to respond and absorb what you’re saying to them and hear you and know that you really do care,” Kristi Malzahn said.