Information provided by Auburn University Athletics Dept./FWAA
Auburn's Gus Malzahn has been named the winner of the 2013 FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award that is sponsored by the Fiesta Bowl, becoming the third first-year head coach to take home the award during its 57-year history.
Malzahn's Tigers posted a 12-1 record during the 2013 season and have earned a berth in the VIZIO BCS National Championship against Florida State on Jan. 6. He's only the third Southeastern Conference coach to win the football league title in the first season at his school and the first since Ole Miss' John Vaught in 1947. Previous to Malzahn, the last SEC coach to win the award was Alabama's Nick Saban in 2008.
In 2012, Auburn finished 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC. The current season's 8 1/2-game improvement is tied for the best in FBS history. Malzahn is only the second first-year, major-college coach to lead his new team to the national title game.
"This is a huge honor, and I'm very humbled to be named the recipient of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award," Malzahn said upon hearing the news. "I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Robinson and looked up to him as a coach and as an individual. I accept this award on behalf of our entire coaching staff and players, which have done an outstanding job this year getting our program turned around."
Malzahn, Auburn's offensive coordinator from 2009-11, already has one national title under his belt when he claimed the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach on Auburn's 2010 national title team. Malzahn went to Arkansas State in 2012 as the head coach, where he led that school to the Sun Belt Conference title before returning to Auburn.
"Certainly, the job Coach Malzahn has done this year warrants this award," said FWAA President Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times. "It is one of the best turnarounds in college football history and to do it in the first year at a school even adds to the accomplishment."
"In his first season at the helm at Auburn, Gus Malzahn authored one of the great turnarounds in college football history," Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Robert Shelton said. "It takes a special coach to lead a team to the BCS championship game one year after it failed to win a conference game. Coach Malzahn is a fitting recipient of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award."
Auburn, which defeated Missouri, 59-42, in the 2013 SEC title game, leads the country in rushing with 335.7 yards per game and also tops the country with 215 rushing first downs. Auburn has scored 30-or-more points in nine straight games for the first time in school history.
The other first-year coaches to win the FWAA Coaching Award are Ralph Friedgen of Maryland in 2001 and Tom Cahill of Army in 1966. Malzahn is the second Auburn coach to claim this award, following Terry Bowden in 1993.
The Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will be highlighted during a reception on Jan. 4, 2014, in Newport Beach, Calif., where Malzahn will accept the Eddie Robinson bust.