Gus Malzahn, Gary Pinkel two of three finalists for national coach of the year award


Two of college football’s biggest turnarounds belong in the SEC, and it’s only fitting both teams are playing for the SEC Championship Saturday.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel join Duke’s David Cutcliffe as the three finalists for Maxwell’s Coach of the Year award.

Related: SEC Championship preview

Auburn finished 3-9 and winless in the SEC in 2012, and Malzahn has exploded the Tigers into the national championship conversation, finishing 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the SEC in just one season. We knew Malzahn inherited good talent, but what’s so impressive is how he changed the culture of the program in one season, when it usually takes other coaches two to three seasons.

Pinkel’s 2012 squad finished 5-7 with two SEC wins a year ago, and he’s orchestrated a fantastic turnaround that any coach would be jealous of. He’s guided the Tigers to 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the SEC leading into Atlanta Saturday. Despite a massive turnaround and incredible season overall, Mizzou is still flying under the radar leading into the SEC Championship.

Related: Compare Mizzou-Auburn team stats

Hats off to Malzahn and Pinkel for their big-time turnarounds in the toughest conference in college football.

Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports



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  • Pinkel is now taking Missouri to it’s 8 bowl in 9 years. Pinkel near the top of list of active coaches wins. Pinkel orchestrates the best academic performances from his athletes in the league. Pinkel (unlike Ohio State and several other high profile coaches) wouldn’t let a Sheldon Richardson dress, if he didn’t do his homework, boot players who are not good citizens, and treats his young men like family members. I know that lots of coaches deserve this kind of praise. They are, after all, in the coaching profession, and contrary to what many fans think, winning is a by-product of training boys to be great men. Thanks to all the great coaches in the world who are holding back the rising popular society who expect the impossible, that a good life will be GIVEN to them.

  • I have never been all in on Pinkel. As a matter of fact I along with a large number of Mizzou fans have called for his firing many times over the years. But I will say he has done an amazing Hodini job this year. I think he has grown smart enough to take the advise of thse around him and has finally surrounded himself with a quality team of coaches (ie. out with Yost and in with Henson). But I would still give the nod to Malzahn in this case. He has been a pure genius this year and apparently he has an in with the man upstairs cause I have never seen this many miracles from one team in a season. Here in Columbia we like to say the Tigers are 11 and Pinkel. He goes way to conservative to the teams detriment when the game seems in control. He lacks the killer instinct. Malzahn for Coach of the year

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