Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn celebrates after winning the 2013 SEC Championship game against the Missouri Tigers at Georgia Dome. Auburn won 59-42. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Gus Malzahn patterned coaching style after role model Bobby Bowden

Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn was a magician in his first year back on The Plains, turning a 3-9 team into the SEC champions and 14 seconds away from a stunning national championship and swept the national Coach of the Year awards.

One of the awards Malzahn won this year was the Bobby Bowden Coach of the Year Award and after accepting the award referred to Bowden as a coach who Malzahn patterned himself after according to

“You’re always looking for role models as a young coach, who you want to model yourself after,” Malzahn said. … “Whether he won or he got beat — he very rarely got beat — but he handled himself with true class, professionalism. A Christian coach, and I was a young Christian coach trying to model myself after a guy like Coach Bowden.”

There wasn’t a finer coach to pattern yourself after if you were a young coach in the 90s as Bowden’s Florida State teams finished ranked in the final top five of the season for the entire decade.

Not only was he a winner, but he was one of the first to run a type of hurry-up offense under Heisman winner Charlie Ward which you can clearly see the influence that has had one Malzahn’s Auburn teams dating back to when he coached Cam Newton in his Heisman winning season when Auburn won the national championship over the Oregon Ducks.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn leaves a BCS press conference Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Newport Beach, Calif. Auburn will take on FSU in the BCS National Championship on Monday. (Julie Bennett/

Joel A. Erickson | By Joel A. Erickson |
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on March 03, 2014 at 1:30 AM, updated March 03, 2014 at 1:34 AM

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Back then, the idea seemed so simple to a coach looking for the best way to put points on the board.

Watching film, a pattern had emerged. Every time his quarterback had to run the two-minute offense, he put the ball in the end zone, and the coach found himself asking the same question over and over again.
Bobby-Bowden-points-Couch.jpgA statue honoring football coach Bobby Bowden was unveiled in front of Seibert Stadium on the campus of Samford University Saturday September 21, 2013 in Homewood, Alabama. Bowden was head coach at Samford from 1959 – 1962 and compiled a record of 31-6 before being hired by Florida State as an assistant coach. (Frank Couch/
Why not just run the two-minute offense the entire game?
The next year, as Charlie Ward ran Bobby Bowden‘s no-huddle offense to perfection, a high school coach in Arkansas by the name of Gus Malzahn was taking notice of the way Florida State was playing.
“I was telling Coach over here, when I was watching Charlie Ward, and they’d go shotgun, and they’d go back, start playing with pace,” Malzahn said. “You know, I think Coach is one of those guys that kind of started a lot of this wide-open offense.”
But the presence of Bowden clearly left Auburn’s head coach feeling a little star-struck, so much so that Malzahn admitted it was a “surreal” experience spending time with the Florida State legend.
Bowden, after all, directed the construction of an offense that could serve as the predecessor for Malzahn’s current offense, with an athletic, dangerous dual-threat quarterback operating at blinding speed out of the shotgun, with Ward, the Heisman Trophy winner, playing the part of Nick Marshall.
“We kind of stumbled into what they’re doing now, although they do it faster,” Bowden said. “We put Charlie in there, we’d use no-huddle, we even called it the Kentucky Derby. We’re going to fly, and we did pretty good, but not like they do nowadays.”
Bowden, who holds the NCAA’s record for career wins by a major-college coach, caught Malzahn’s eye early in his career, and Florida State’s offense really had only a little to do with his interest.
At the time, Malzahn, a fledgling coach just beginning his career, wanted an example to follow.

“You’re always looking for role models as a young coach, who you want to model yourself after,” Malzahn said.

Tags: Auburn Tigers Bobby Bowden Florida State Seminoles Gus Malzahn

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