UCF Knights Head Coach Gus Malzahn Named Finalist for Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach Award
By UCF Knights // December 30, 2021
Malzahn led the Knights to a 9-4 season
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – The Football Writers Association of America announced the finalists for the Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach Award, which goes to the best coach in his first year at a school, and UCF’s Gus Malzahn was among the three finalists.
“I’m excited to honor my former coach (Spurrier) with the naming of the First Year Coach Award,” said Chris Doering, former college and NFL player and current football analyst for SEC Network.
“It means a lot to me knowing how passionate he is about this award and what it stands for. In most cases as a first-year coach, you’re basically being asked to turn around a program with a largely inherited roster.”
“Coach Spurrier took great pride in each of his first-year head coaching opportunities with an innate ability to get those around him to buy into the culture and what they’re being asked to do. I think it speaks to the essence of what a good coach is.”
Malzahn led the Knights to a 9-4 season, including a Gasparilla Bowl victory over Florida, a three-game improvement from the 6-4 mark they ran up last season despite losing several key players along the way.
Malzahn finished the season coaching with a broken tibia after being injured in a sideline collision, working some games from a sideline platform rather than going up into the coach’s box, and just finished off the highest recruiting class in school history.
“This award is given to the coach in his first year at his school who comes in and exceeds expectations,” said Steve Spurrier. “All three of these coaches got their programs heading in the right direction and they didn’t make any excuses. They took what was there and started running with it and they all had outstanding seasons.”
ALL-TIME FWAA FIRST-YEAR COACHES OF THE YEAR
■ 2002 Tyrone Willingham, Notre Dame
■ 2003 Steve Kragthorpe, Tulsa
■ 2004 Mike Price, UTEP
■ 2005 Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
■ 2006 Chris Petersen, Boise State
■ 2007 Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College
■ 2008 Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
■ 2009 Chip Kelly, Oregon
■ 2010 Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
■ 2011 Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
■ 2012 Urban Meyer, Ohio State
■ 2013 Gus Malzahn, Auburn
■ 2014 Bryan Harsin, Boise State
■ 2015 Tom Herman, Houston
■ 2016 Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech; Clay Helton, USC
■ 2017 Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
■ 2018 Josh Heupel, UCF
■ 2019 Ryan Day, Ohio State
■ 2020 Karl Dorrell, Colorado
This will be the 20th straight season in which the FWAA has had the First Year Coach Award, although the first time with a namesake for the award, Steve Spurrier. The winner of each award will be announced in January 2022.
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