Auburn's Gus Malzahn Wins the Paul 'Bear' Bryant Coach of the Year Award

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2014

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06:  Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn stands on the field prior to the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game against the Florida State Seminoles at the Rose Bowl on January 6, 2014 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2013 season is over, but Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn continues tearing up opponents on the award circuit, having just been named the Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year on Wednesday night.

According to Justin Hokanson of, it was Malzahn's fifth national Coach of the Year Award this season, which almost gave him a clean sweep:

Prior to winning the Bryant Award, Malzahn had also been named the Home Depot Coach of the Year, AP Coach of the Year, Sporting News Coach of the Year and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year. The only major coaching hardware he lost was the Maxwell, which went to Duke's David Cutcliffe.

It's not hard to figure out why. Malzahn inherited an Auburn team that went 3-9 overall and winless against conference opponents in 2012. In his first year as Auburn's head coach, he transformed that team in to one of "destiny," helping the Tigers lead the nation in rushing, win the SEC and come within 13 seconds of winning a national title.

His team ultimately fell short against Florida State, losing 34-31.

Still, Malzahn was the man who engineered that turnaround, which was one of the best in college football history. In the process, he continued a rare tradition for Auburn head coaches, becoming the fourth consecutive one to win a Bryant Award.

Ironically, an award named for Bear Bryant, the greatest coach in Alabama Crimson Tide history, continues to be owned by their biggest rival:

Even after the crushing defeat against FSU, Malzahn is able to keep this year's exploits in perspective. 

"We're still hurting over the fact that we were close to winning the national championship and got beat," he said, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). "But if you can remove yourself from that (game), it was a lot of fun, our players came a long way, they improved each week and we were 13 seconds away from being the national champion."

Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Auburn from 2009-2011. In his past three seasons on the Tigers staff, the team has made two national championship games and produced two Heisman Trophy finalists, winning one of each—both in 2010.

The one season he was gone, the team went 3-9.