What a difference a year makes. First year Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn is being named the The Home Depot Coach of the Year for his work in turning the program around.
The team went from 3-9 and no wins over SEC opponents under Gene Chizik last year to 12-1 with an upcoming trip to the BCS National Championship under Gus Malzahn this year.
The award will be presented to Malzahn on Thursday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. ET, on ESPN.
Auburn already has improved its win total by nine games this season, which is the best among all FBS teams. Malzahn's turnaround is currently tied for the biggest in college football history. If he leads the team to a victory over the Florida State University Seminoles on January 6, he'll own the accolade outright.
Malzahn is also just the second first-year head coach to lead his team to the national championship game. The other is Larry Coker who accomplished the feat with Miami (Fla.) in 2001.
Malzahn also holds the distinction of being the only first-year head coach to win an SEC Championship in the 22-year history of the conference's title game and he's just the third to win an SEC title in his first year. The only other times were in 1935 (Bernie Moore at LSU) and 1947 (John Vaught at Ole Miss).
Malzahn was Auburn's offensive coordinator from 2009-11 and won the Broyles Award in 2010 as the nation's top assistant coach while helping secure the team's first national championship in more than 50 years.
He left Auburn to become a head-coach at Arkansas State in 2012 where he led the program to the Sun Belt Conference title. He returned in 2013 following the firing of Gene Chizik by Auburn.
Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.