AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn's turnaround campaign has been one of the biggest storylines in college football this season.
And the man at the helm of the Tigers' program may end up with some individual hardware to show for it. Tuesday, the Maxwell Football Club named Gus Malzahn as one of three finalists for its national coach of the year award. Malzahn will face one of the award's other finalists — Missouri's Gary Pinkel — in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday. The third finalist is Duke's David Cutcliffe, who led the Blue Devils to the ACC title game, where they will square off against top-ranked Florida State.
The winner will be announced Dec. 19. The award won't be formally presented until March, when the Maxwell Club holds its banquet in Atlantic City, N.J.
Malzahn, in his first year as Auburn's head coach, has engineered the biggest turnaround in SEC history; one season after going winless in conference play, the Tigers went 7-1, wrapping up the SEC Western Division title last Saturday in a thrilling 34-28 victory over arch-rival Alabama.
But there's still more work to be done, as Malzahn and the BCS No. 3 Tigers will continue preparing for Saturday's SEC Championship game, which is set to kickoff at 4 p.m. ET in Atlanta.