Auburn's Malzahn wins 2013 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award

December 16, 2013

After a magical season filled with fortunate tipped passes and a dramatic last-second win against arch-rival Alabama, Auburn's Gus Malzahn has been named the winner of the 2013 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, becoming the third first-year head coach to take home the award during its 57-year history.

"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's Tigers posted a 12-1 record during the 2013 season and have earned a berth in the BCS National Championship game against Florida State -- the final game in the controversial tenure of the BCS, as that absurd system will thankfully be scrapped for good at the conclusion of the season.

Malzahn resurrected an Auburn program that in 2012 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.

"Certainly, the job Coach Malzahn has done this year warrants this award," said Football Writers Association of America 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."

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.

Malzahn beat out seven other finalists for the award: 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 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.

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).

The Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will be highlighted during a reception on January 4, 2014, in Newport Beach, California, where Malzahn will accept the Eddie Robinson bust.

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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