Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is the front runner to become North Carolina's next football coach, according to a report.

Malzahn, who helped guide Auburn to a national championship last year, is likely headed to take over the Tar Heels football program, according to 247Sports' Auburn Undercover Web site.

The nation's highest paid assistant has previously fended off job offers from Maryland and Vanderbilt to remain with Gene Chizik at Auburn. But the prospect of taking over a North Carolina program with all the tools to succeed could prove to be too much for the 46 year-old to turn down.

Malzahn would take over a program that was recently embroiled in a scandal that cost Butch Davis his job last summer. The NCAA investigated North Carolina for its connection with football agent Gary Wicard, which resulted in the school vacating its wins from 2008 to 2009 and placing itself on a two-year probation.

North Carolina has a modest 6-4 record under interim coach Everett Withers this season, but many expect the school to try to make a big splash with a coaching hire. Before Malzahn's emergence as the apparent frontrunner for the position, Boise State coach Chris Peterson was considered to be the school's primary target.

Peterson's had tremendous success at Boise State and would be a tremendous hire for new athletic director Bubba Cunningham, but the odds Peterson would leave his cozy job for UNC are likely slim.

Malzahn is known as an offensive whiz that could capitalize on the type of athletes UNC typically attracts. His no-huddle, spread offense has been extremely successful at virtually every school he's coached at and could be particularly effective against some of the porous ACC pass defenses.

Malzahn currently makes $1.3 million a year with Auburn.