DALLAS (FWAA) – Auburn's Gus Malzahn has been named the winner of the 2013FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award that is sponsored by the FiestaBowl, becoming the third first-year head coach to take home the award duringits 57-year history.
Malzahn's Tigers posted a 12-1 record duringthe 2013 season and have earned a berth in the VIZIO BCS National Championshipagainst Florida State on Jan. 6. He's only the third Southeastern Conferencecoach to win the football league title in the first season at his school andthe first since Ole Miss' John Vaught in 1947. Previous to Malzahn, the lastSEC 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 currentseason's 8 1/2-game improvement is tied for the best in FBS history. Malzahn isonly the second first-year, major-college coach to lead his new team to thenational title game.
"This is a huge honor, and I'm very humbled to be named the recipientof the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award," Malzahn said upon hearingthe news. "I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for CoachRobinson and looked up to him as a coach and as an individual. I accept thisaward on behalf of our entire coaching staff and players, which have done anoutstanding job this year getting our program turned around."
Malzahn, Auburn's offensive coordinator from 2009-11, already has onenational title under his belt when he claimed the Broyles Award as the nation'stop assistant coach on Auburn's 2010 national title team. Malzahn went toArkansas State in 2012 as the head coach, where he led that school to the SunBelt Conference title before returning to Auburn.
"Certainly, the job Coach Malzahn has done this year warrants thisaward," said FWAA President Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times."It is one of the best turnarounds in college football history and to doit 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 ofthe great turnarounds in college football history," Fiesta Bowl ExecutiveDirector Robert Shelton said. "It takes a special coach to lead a team tothe 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 YearAward."
Auburn, which defeated Missouri, 59-42, in the 2013 SEC title game, leadsthe country in rushing with 335.7 yards per game and also tops the country with215 rushing first downs. Auburn has scored 30-or-more points in nine straightgames for the first time in school history.
The other first-year coaches to win the FWAA Coaching Award are RalphFriedgen of Maryland in 2001 and Tom Cahill of Army in 1966. Malzahn is thesecond Auburn coach to claim this award, following Terry Bowden in 1993.
The Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will be highlighted during areception on Jan. 4, 2014, in Newport Beach, Calif., where Malzahn will acceptthe Eddie Robinson bust.
The entire FWAA membership had the opportunity to vote on the winner of theassociation's Coach of the Year Award, which was narrowed to eight finalistsearlier this month. The other finalists were Baylor's Art Briles, Duke's DavidCutcliffe, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher,Central Florida's George O'Leary, Missouri's Gary Pinkel and Stanford's DavidShaw.
The FWAA has honored a major-college coach with its Coach of the Year Awardsince 1957. Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University, has beenthe 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 gamesduring his illustrious career. Robinson's teams won or tied for 17 SouthwesternAthletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. HisTigers claimed nine Black College Football Championships during his careerspent all at the same school.
Robinson, who was named by the FWAA in 1966 as "The Coach Who Made theBiggest Contribution to College Football in the Past 25 Years," took hisshow often on the road to places such as the Louisiana Superdome, the CottonBowl, the Astrodome, Tiger Stadium and Yankee Stadium. And with hisstar-studded array of players, Robinson helped integrate professional football.
In 1949, Grambling standout Tank Younger was the first player from aHistorically Black College to sign with an NFL Team (Los Angeles Rams). By1963, Buck Buchanan became the first player from a Historically Black Collegeto be selected first overall in the professional draft (American FootballLeague by the Kansas City Chiefs). Over the years, Robinson produced a Who'sWho of professional football players, with more than 200 of his former playersdoting professional rosters.
In 1975, with one of his greatest teams quarterbacked by eventual All-ProDoug Williams, Robinson's Grambling team and Alcorn State became the firstcollege teams to play a game in the Louisiana Superdome. The next season,Robinson's Tigers, along with Morgan State became the first American collegefootball teams to play in Japan.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Robinson has the keys tocities all over the planet, has been awarded in every form and fashion and hashonorary degrees from many schools. The Eddie Robinson Museum is now open inhis honor in Grambling, where numerous memorabilia now reside, including a bustof the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organizationfounded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover collegefootball for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters andpublicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game.The FWAA works to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awardsand its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its awardprograms, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org 972-713-6198.
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The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football AwardsAssociation (NCFAA). The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards incollege football. The 21 awards boast 678 years of tradition-selectionexcellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.