Auburn’s Gus Malzahn to speak at Mississippi Bowl VII banquet

Gus Malzahn on Thursday, May 23, 2013 Auburn, Ala. Todd Van EmstGus Malzahn, who was named Auburn University’s 26th head football coach on December 4, 2012, will be the guest speaker at the Mississippi Bowl annual team banquet on Friday, December 5.  The banquet is part of the three-day event that will culminate on Sunday, December 7, with the NJCAA national championship football game at Biloxi Indian Stadium.

It is the second year in a row for the Mississippi Bowl to host the national championship game.  This year’s game is between No.1-ranked East Mississippi Community College and No. 2-ranked Iowa Western Community College, the two most recent national champions.

“We are excited to again be hosting the national championship and to have such an outstanding and winning coach to speak to our players at the banquet,” said Bert Pickard, Mississippi Bowl chair.  “Gus Malzahn is a legendary coach, has won multiple coach of the year honors and will, I’m sure, have outstanding advice to offer the players of these two top-ranked football teams.”

Before taking over leadership at Auburn, Malzahn was head coach at Arkansas State University. He won back-to-back championships in his first two seasons as a head coach, the SEC Championship in 2013 and the Sun Belt Conference title with a 9-3 record at Arkansas State in 2012. His 12-2 start at Auburn is the second-best for a new Auburn coach, followed by an 8-4 second season.

In 2013, Auburn posted the biggest turnaround in the nation (+8), the biggest turnaround in SEC history (+7 conference wins) and fell just shy of the biggest improvement in NCAA records (+8.5 games by Hawaii from 1999 to 2000).  Malzahn turned a 3-9 season with a total offense ranked 117th out of 124 teams prior to his arrival into a 12-2 SEC Champion in 2013, reaching the BCS national championship game.

The Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden, Eddie Robinson, Home Depot, Sporting News, SB Nation, Liberty Mutual and Associated Press National Coach of the Year and a finalist for the 2013 Maxwell National Coach of the Year award, Malzahn earned SEC Coach of the Year honors from the league’s coaches and the Associated Press.

Just the third coach in SEC history to win an SEC title in his first year at a school, Malzahn joined LSU’s Bernie Moore in 1935 and Ole Miss’ John Vaught in 1947.

Malzahn has won or played for a conference title in six of his eight seasons as a college coach, including winning a conference crown in three of the last four seasons with Auburn in 2010 and 2013 and Arkansas State in 2012.

Known for his innovative offensive style, Malzahn has made a profound impact during each of his coaching stops at the collegiate level: Auburn, Arkansas State, Tulsa and Arkansas. Malzahn’s offense is known as the hurry-up, no-huddle and became so popular that, in 2003, he published a book and instructional video titled “Hurry Up No Huddle – An Offensive Philosophy.”  That book became the blueprint for the offensive wave that spread throughout the South, and several NFL teams adopted some of Malzahn’s offensive strategies.

Malzahn is 20-6 in his two seasons as Auburn’s coach, which included a national runner-up finish to cap the greatest turnaround in SEC history last season. Auburn finished in a tie for sixth overall in the SEC this year with one more game in Malzahn’s second season, a bowl game to be announced on December 7.

Pickard encourages football fans to attend the Mississippi Bowl, which promises to be an exciting showdown between the NJCAA’s top two teams.  “The Mississippi Bowl is an exciting bowl game, with the opportunity for fans to see tomorrow’s university and NFL champions while they are still at the community college level,” he said. “Previous players in the bowl that have gone on to have outstanding university careers include Bo Wallace, quarterback at University of Mississippi and Nick Marshall, quarterback for Auburn University. At the professional level, the list includes Chris White, linebacker with the New England Patriots, and Don Jones, strong safety with the Miami Dolphins.”

The Mississippi Bowl can be viewed via streaming video at  Kickoff is set for Sunday, December 7, at 2 p.m. at Biloxi Indian Stadium.

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