AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn has captured yet another national coaching award.
After winning the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award last week, he added the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award on Monday. He became only the fourth coach to win the award in his first year at a school, joining Ralph Friedgen of Maryland (2001), Tom Cahill of Army (1966) and fellow former Auburn coach Terry Bowden (1993).
"That's a true blessing and it's a tribute to our assistant coaches, which have done a wonderful job, and a tribute to our players," Malzahn said following Monday's practice. "When you win, you get awards. But this is a group award. Anytime you get a head coaching award, it's a group thing."
The coach has helped the Tigers tie for the biggest single-season turnaround in NCAA history, with an 8.5-game improvement (from 3-9 in 2012 to 12-1 this season) over last year. Hawaii had the same level of improvement 14 years ago, going from 0-12 in 1998 to 9-4 in 1999.
"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."
Malzahn will be presented with the award during a reception on Jan. 4 in Newport Beach, Calif.
Auburn's coach could continue to add to his award haul for this year, as he is still up for three more coaching awards: the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year (one of 10 finalists), the Bobby Bowden National Collegiate Coach of the Year Award (one of five finalists) and another presented by the Maxwell Club (one of three finalists).