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Duke’s Cutcliffe, Auburn’s Malzahn, and Mizzou’s Pinkel named Coach of the Year finalists

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday

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David Cutcliffe is one of three finalists for the Maxwell Coach of the Year Award (USA Today Sports)

The finalists for the Maxwell Coach of the Year Award were announced Tuesday, and the three remaining candidates make up an extremely qualified and evenly-matched field.

The three finalists -- Duke’s David Cutcliffe, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel – have all led their teams to a conference championship game, exceeding pre-season expectations.

Cutcliffe, the ACC Coach of the Year, has re-built the Duke program from the ground up. From 1999-2007, the Blue Devils compiled a 13-90 record. Cutcliffe came on board in 2008 and after five losing seasons, led the surprising Blue Devils to a 10-2 record, the ACC Coastal division crown and a berth in the ACC title game against top-ranked Florida State on Saturday.

Malzahn is in his first year at Auburn and rebounded the team from a 3-9 record and no SEC wins last year to an 11-1 record, and an SEC West title after improbably knocking off Alabama in last Saturday’s Iron Bowl.

Malzahn and the Tigers will square off in the SEC title game with Gary Pinkel’s Missouri squad who battled through injuries all year but still pulled off impressive victories over Georgia and Texas A&M en route to an 11-1 season, a major turnaround from 2012’s 5-7 campaign.

The winner will be announced on Dec. 19 and will be presented at the 77th Maxwell Awards ceremony in March 2014.

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