Football on the plains of Auburn University will never be the same again! The Auburn Tigers’ exciting 2013 season which tied the NCAA record for a one-year turnaround was engineered under the impressive leadership of first-year Head Coach Gus Malzahn.
The astonishing season, which featured Auburn playing in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship Game, has earned Malzahn the United States Sports Academy’s 2014 Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award. In that BCS game, Auburn was a scant 13 seconds away from victory, as late, breath-taking victories became a hallmark of Auburn Tiger football under Malzahn.
Malzahn, the Tigers’ former offensive coordinator came back to the Plains last season lead ing Auburn out of the doldrums of a 0-8 record in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play in 2012 to an SEC Championship in 2013. The turnaround matches the greatest such feat in college football history.
The Amos Alonzo Stagg Award is presented annually to a men’s coach who has experienced outstanding achievement and has exhibited a high standard of propriety, imagination, and innovation as a character-builder in the tradition of great teacher-coaches. Amos Alonzo Stagg was one of the winningest college football coaches in history with 314 wins and his imagination and innovation established many sports traditions, strategies, and character-building lessons still used today.
Malzahn’s coaching leadership flourished this year upon his return to Auburn, where he previously directed the offense and coached quarterback Cam Newton during the Tigers’ 2010 BCS title run. His up-tempo style of offense wore down vaunted SEC defenses and helped lead the Tigers to 12 wins this year. The Tigers’ 12-2 record during the 2013 season was clearly better than their 3-9 record the previous year.
His offense put up gaudy numbers in big victories against Georgia, Missouri, and Alabama in the Iron Bowl, which was the Academy’s selection for the 2013 College Football Game of the Year. Auburn averaged 328 yards per game on the ground in 2013 and 173 yards through the air.
After a stint as head coach of Arkansas State, Malzahn was hired on Dec. 4, 2012, to take over for his former boss Gene Chizik. In his first season as head coach, Malzahn led the Tigers back to national prominence. The Tigers fell just short of their second title in four years, but it doesn’t diminish the great coaching prowess Malzahn exhibited throughout the year.
Malzahn has received numerous honors for this outstanding season, including the Paul “Bear” Bryant College Coach of the Year Award. Malzahn beat out Baylor’s Art Briles, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, and Rice’s David Baliff for that honor. In 2013, Malzahn was inducted into the Arkansas High School Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame highlighting phenomenal success as a high school coach in Arkansas.
After leaving high school coaching, Malzahn began his college career as Offensive Coordinator at the University of Arkansas in 2006. In 2012, he became the Head Coach at Arkansas State, where he posted a 9-3 record. Malzahn is 21-5 in two seasons as a college head coach.
Last year’s winner of the Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award was Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Harbaugh earned the award after leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2012, beating the San Francisco 49ers.