Gus Malzahn's first season as head football coach at Auburn University will conclude tonight, potentially with a national championship trophy in his arms. However, today Coach Malzahn added a different trophy to his case as Liberty Mutual Insurance, in partnership with the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame, announced Malzahn as the 2013 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award winner for the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award is the leading college football honor recognizing coaches for their responsibility, integrity, sportsmanship and excellence, on and off field. Coach Malzahn is the second Auburn coach to earn the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, joining Gene Chizik (2010).
As Coach of the Year, Liberty Mutual will award Coach Malzahn $50,000 to support his favorite charities and $20,000 in scholarship to the Auburn University Alumni Association. Coach Malzahn has selected A Level Up, an organization based in Springdale, Ark., that inspires hope and changes lives by motivating people to move 'a level up' from hopelessness and achieve their full potential through leadership training, life skills building, and hand-on experiences; the Fort Smith (Ark.) Boys & Girls Clubs; and Women's Hope Medical Clinic in Auburn as his award beneficiaries. Since 2006, Liberty Mutual Insurance has provided more than $2 million to support charities and alumni association scholarship funds on behalf of its Coach of the Year winners.
Coach Malzahn's superior season and commitment to his players and community elevated him above a group of 10 FBS coach finalists through fan votes cast December 10-22 at CoachoftheYear.com and ballots from elite selection committees of national media and College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches. Fans votes contributed 20 percent to each coach's final score, and the media and College Football Hall of Fame accounted for 25 percent and 55 percent, respectively. The other 2013 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year winners are Craig Bohl, North Dakota State (FCS); Curt Wiese, Minnesota Duluth (Division II); and Pete Fredenburg, Mary Hardin-Baylor (Division III).
"We are excited to stand with the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame, as well as Tigers fans, to recognize Coach Malzahn's role in helping his student-athletes achieve their full potential on and off the field of play," said Jim MacPhee, senior vice president and Chief Marketing Officer, Liberty Mutual Personal Insurance. "Each year, our winners are able to positively impact their schools, communities and beyond through our award, and we are excited to further support Coach Malzahn's good work as a Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year."
When Gus Malzahn returned to Auburn after the 2012 football season, he inherited a Tigers team that finished 3-9 including a winless SEC campaign. One year later, Malzahn has Auburn (12-1) on the brink of a national championship. A win tonight would mean a nine game turnaround, which would be the best in FBS history.
Coach Malzahn may be short on head coaching experience but his two years have seen nothing but success, having led Arkansas State to a 9-3 record and the Sun Belt Conference title in 2012. His offensive coaching mind is already legendary throughout college football, highlighted by the 2010 Auburn team that won the national title while serving at the Tigers' offensive coordinator.
Off the field, Coach Malzahn's commitment to education is demonstrated by the 11 Tigers who will take the field tonight with college degrees. Additionally, he is very active in the Auburn community. Malzahn and his staff regularly support their community by supporting Children's Miracle Network, and volunteering at the Azalea Place Retirement Home and the annual CityFest in Kiesel Park. Malzahn encourages his Tiger players to give back as well, and they can be seen playing baseball with special needs children for the Miracle League of East Alabama or supporting the Auburn and Opelika Police Departments by speaking at child safety awareness classes and DARE summer youth camps.