The first award for Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn is already in the books. According to Charles Goldberg of AuburnTigers.com, the first-year Auburn coach was named SEC Coach of the Year by the Associated Press after his team won the SEC Championship and clinched a spot in the national championship game.
The honor is well-deserved, and it won’t be the last one that Malzahn claims this year.
In addition to the SEC honors, Goldberg reports that Malzahn has been named one of eight finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award. Ryan Black of the Ledger-Enquirer also indicated that Malzahn is one of just three finalists for the Maxwell Football Club's Coach of the Year award.
Malzahn is the front-runner for both awards, although the competition is stiff with the likes of Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Duke’s David Cutcliffe and Baylor’s Art Briles. However, the Auburn coach is worthy of both honors.
Considering how Auburn ended last season, Malzahn has orchestrated a phenomenal turnaround in just one short year that matches the biggest improvement in college football history.
In December of 2012, he was handed the reins to a 3-9 team that was winless in the SEC. All he did this season was go 7-1 in the conference—including thrilling wins over Alabama and Georgia—and earn a spot in the national championship game.
His offensive creativity has jump-started the Auburn offense, and he’s leaned on a dominant running game while maintaining the tempo that he is renowned for.
Even while considering his tactical acumen, perhaps his most influential decision was the “New Day” slogan that he emphasized throughout the spring and summer.
Malzahn implored his players to move past their dismal 2012 season and declared that it was a “new day” for the Auburn program.
He backed up the slogan too, only evaluating players only from the time he was named head coach and not the rest of the season before that.
Everything he did worked wonders and resulted in a dream season for the Tigers that, of course, included a dramatic win in the Iron Bowl.
With such early success, Malzahn became a hot name in the coaching world, with SI.com's Pete Thamel linking him to Texas.
The good news for Tigers fans is that Malzahn just signed a six-year extension that will keep him at Auburn for the near future.
This football season was filled with tremendous coaching performances, but nobody did a more spectacular job than Gus Malzahn. With one award already under his belt, more hardware is on the way for the Tigers coach.