DALLAS (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.
The entire FWAA membership had the opportunity to vote on the winner of the association's Coach of the Year Award, which was narrowed to eight finalists earlier this month. The other finalists were Baylor's Art Briles, Duke's David Cutcliffe, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Central Florida's George O'Leary, Missouri's Gary Pinkel and Stanford's David Shaw.
The FWAA has honored a major-college coach with its Coach of the Year Award since 1957. Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University, has been the award's namesake since 1997.
The late Robinson is the winningest coach in Division I history (408 games). Robinson, who passed away on April 3, 2007, won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson's teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers claimed nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.
Robinson, who was named by the FWAA in 1966 as "The Coach Who Made the Biggest Contribution to College Football in the Past 25 Years," took his show often on the road to places such as the Louisiana Superdome, the Cotton Bowl, the Astrodome, Tiger Stadium and Yankee Stadium. And with his star-studded array of players, Robinson helped integrate professional football.
In 1949, Grambling standout Tank Younger was the first player from a Historically Black College to sign with an NFL Team (Los Angeles Rams). By 1963, Buck Buchanan became the first player from a Historically Black College to be selected first overall in the professional draft (American Football League by the Kansas City Chiefs). Over the years, Robinson produced a Who's Who of professional football players, with more than 200 of his former players doting professional rosters.
In 1975, with one of his greatest teams quarterbacked by eventual All-Pro Doug Williams, Robinson's Grambling team and Alcorn State became the first college teams to play a game in the Louisiana Superdome. The next season, Robinson's Tigers, along with Morgan State became the first American college football teams to play in Japan.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Robinson has the keys to cities all over the planet, has been awarded in every form and fashion and has honorary degrees from many schools. The Eddie Robinson Museum is now open in his honor in Grambling, where numerous memorabilia now reside, including a bust of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-713-6198.
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The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 21 awards boast 678 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.