After leading Auburn on a remarkable turnaround from winless in the SEC to conference champions and national runner-up, head coach Gus Malzahn was named the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year.
Malzahn, an Arkansas native like Bryant, told the AP that he was honored to be honored with an award named after the legendary Bryant.
“When you’re growing up, he’s the man,” Manziel said. “The fact that I’m from the state of Arkansas and he’s from Fordyce, Arkansas, and one of my best friends is coaching high school there makes it even that much more special.”
Malzahn used his hurry-up, no-huddle offense to help the Tigers put up eye-popping offensive statistics. His team led the nation in rushing yards, averaging a whopping 328.3 yards per game and was 13th in scoring at 39.5 points per game.
The Tigers shook off an early season loss to LSU to reel off nine consecutive wins to win the SEC. That run included back-to-back miracle late-game triumphs over Georgia and then top-ranked Alabama in the Iron Bowl before knocking off Missouri in the SEC Championship game. The Tigers’ season ended with a last-second 34-31 National Championship loss to Florida State.
"We're still hurting over the fact that we were close to winning the national championship and got beat," Malzahn said. "But if you can remove yourself from that, it was a lot of fun, our players came a long way, they improved each week and we were 13 seconds away from being the national champion."
Malzahn edged out Baylor’s Art Briles, Rice’s David Bailiff, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio and David Shaw of Stanford to take home the award.
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