Gus Malzahn inherited a demoralized Auburn team that had just gone through the program’s worst season in decades with a stagnant offense and pliant defense.
As is his way, the coach known for fast play on offense went to work in a hurry. He led the second-ranked Tigers’ transformation into Southeastern Conference champions and has them in the national championship game on Jan. 6 against No. 1 Florida State.
Malzahn’s quick work helped to make him the Associated Press national coach of the year.
“It’s very humbling,” he said yesterday. “Anytime you get awards like this, it’s a team thing, as far as our staff and our players. It’s been fun to be a part of this year.”
Malzahn received 33 votes from AP Top 25 college football poll voters to beat out Duke’s David Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe received 17 votes after leading Duke (10-3) to its first 10-victory season. Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio each received three votes.
Florida interviews Duke assistant
Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is interviewing for the same position at Florida, said a person familiar with the situation. The person said Roper was in Florida interviewing with the Gators on Monday. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Florida isn’t commenting publicly on its search.
Roper was a finalist this year for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach. He helped the 22nd-ranked Blue Devils (10-3) set a school record for victories and earn a spot in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against No. 20 Texas A&M on Dec. 31 in Atlanta.
• Alan Arrington, an assistant coach at Akron, was killed yesterday in a car accident in his native Mississippi. He was 44. Arrington was an assistant head coach on Terry Bowden’s staff and also worked with the offensive line. Arrington was in his second season at Akron. He graduated from Ole Miss in 1994.
• Michigan coach Brady Hoke said quarterback Devin Gardner still is slowed by a turf toe injury. Hoke said if the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl were yesterday, freshman Shane Morris would take snaps for the Wolverines against Kansas State. Hoke said Gardner, who is wearing a protective boot, would have to practice by Wednesday to play in Saturday night’s game.
• Colorado State defensive line coach Greg Lupfer has been suspended without pay for two weeks for using a gay slur when yelling at Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.