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'Just amazing': Gus Malzahn wins praise for first season

Nov. 14, 2013

Gus Malzahn has helped flip Auburn's season in 2013 (Todd Van Emst photo)

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. — Three of the SEC's four new coaches have a combined 1-16 record in conference play, an 11-20 record overall. 

The fourth new coach, Auburn's Gus Malzahn, stands alone, at 5-1 in the league and 9-1 overall. 

"It's just amazing what they've done to turn this thing around from a year ago," said Georgia coach Mark Richt on Wednesday ahead of his Saturday game against the Tigers in Jordan-Hare Stadium. 

Auburn, 3-9 overall last season and 2-8 after 10 games a year ago, is enjoying the biggest turnaround in college football.  Arkansas' Bret Bielema, Tennessee's Butch Jones and Kentucky's Mark Stoops have had a tougher go in the SEC. 

Richt, the longest tenured SEC coach at 13 years, says taking over a program can be tricky. He's seen coaches come and go. 

"You don't know what everybody is dealing with, what they're walking into," Richt said. "What's there when they get there? What has to be done? What type of changes philosophically and schematically need to be done? Sometimes things take time. 

"I think it's very, very difficult, and that just adds to what Coach Malzahn has done in his first season. It's amazing, really, the turnaround they've had in such a short time. He did have some familiarity with the team. He did recruit some of them to run his system, so there was a little bit of some things in place that were there for him that maybe weren't there for the others. Even so, 9-1 right now  is a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment." 

Malzahn was Auburn's offensive coordinator from 2009-11 before spending last season as head coach at Arkansas State. He then returned to the school and players he already knew. 

"I know that had to help. At the same time, I'm very proud of our players buying into what we asked them do and all coming together. It's been a lot of fun," Malzahn said. 

Malzahn wouldn't say if he was surprised with the 9-1 record. 

"At the first of the year, we didn't try to predict anything," he said. "These guys have found a way to get that done every week. I feel like we've improved. That's why they're where they're at."

 Most Improved
 Team  2012  2013  % Change
 Auburn  2-8 (.200)  9-1 (.900)  .700
 Baylor  4-5 (.444)  8-0 (1.000)  .556
 Buffalo  3-7 (.300)  7-2 (.778)  .478
 Missouri  5-5 (.500)  9-1 (.900)  .400
 Tulane  2-8 (.200)  6-4 (.600)  .400
 Michigan State  5-5 (.500)  8-1 (.889)  .389
 Houston  4-6 (.400)  7-2 (.778)  .378
 Boston College  2-8 (.200)  5-4 (.556)  .356
 Texas State  3-6 (.333)  6-3 (.667)  .334
 UNLV  2-9 (.182)  5-5 (.500)  .318

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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