Dec. 10, 2013
Auburn fans have been happy to welcome back Gus Malzahn (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn received more recognition for Auburn's turnaround season when he was named a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year.
Malzahn, who has flipped last year's 3-9 record to a 12-1 mark and a berth in the BCS Championship Game, is on various national coach of the year lists. He was named the SEC Coach of the Year by the Associated Press on Monday.
He's also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award as well as the Home Depot Coach of the Year honor.
Fans can help determine the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year by voting online. The fan vote accounts for 20 percent of the Liberty Mutual process. Fans can vote every day through Dec. 22.
The other finalists are Alabama's Nick Saban, Baylor Art Briles, Duke's David Cutcliffe, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Arizona State's Todd Graham, Ohio State's Urban Meyer, UCLA's Jim Mora, Penn State's Bill O'Brien and Clemson's Dabo Swinney.
Malzahn, in his first year as Auburn's head coach, said he turned the attitude of the team early.
"In the spring, we were very physical, we were very demanding, we strained them, we tried to have the guys that were going to be with us, to be with us and be together. If not, they needed to do something different," Malzahn said. "They did everything we asked and the guys that made it, they hung in there and played good football."
Auburn leads college football in rushing and is in the Top 10 in total offense with Malzahn's fast-paced offense that helped the Tigers win the Southeastern Conference Championship last Saturday. Malzahn said the season turned for the better when Nick Marshall grew into his role as the starting quarterback. Auburn has two 1,000-yard rushers in Marshall and Tre Mason.
Mason benefitted in Malzahn's schemes, rushing for 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns. He'll be in New York this weekend as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: