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February 2014

February 2014

Letter from AFM: Crowning Achievement

by: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
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For the amazing job that he did taking an Auburn team that was winless in the SEC in 2012 and guiding them to the SEC championship and a runner-up finish in the BCS championship game, Gus Malzahn was a deserving winner of the many Coach of the Year awards he received. With the nationís best running attack, they disproved the notion that you must have a high-powered passing game to succeed in the modern era of college football. And the two game-winning plays against Georgia and Alabama will be part of college football highlight reels for years to come.

We think, however, that thereís another FBS coach that is even more worthy of the honor this season. Thatís Florida Stateís Jimbo Fisher, who weíre proud to announce is the 2013 Rawlings Football Coach of the Year. In leading the Seminoles to the BCS championship in a dramatic, come-from-behind victory over Auburn, Fisher returned FSU to the pinnacle of college football Ė a spot they hadnít occupied since their last national championship under Bobby Bowden in 1999.

Not only did Fisher end the SECís seven-year run of national championships, he engineered a 14-0 season that will go down in the annals of college football as one of the most dominant of all time. FSU led the nation in scoring defense and was a close second in scoring offense Ė statistical domination that weíve never seen in the modern era. Itís all the more impressive considering that Seminole starters were usually lifted and rested by the third quarter in their weekly blowouts.

The title game was another matter. Auburn built a 21-3 first half lead, forcing Fisher into a situation he hadnít faced all season. He responded with a daring fake punt call that kept a scoring drive alive at a critical time, a package of halftime adjustments that slowed down Auburnís running attack and a final game-winning drive that sealed the victory.

Perhaps most importantly, he helped freshman Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston keep calm despite a rocky beginning. As an old quarterback coach, Fisherís development and handling of Winston all season was exemplary, especially considering the cloud of potential legal issues that lingered over the young quarterback into December.

Every coach knows that thereís far more to coaching than play calling and in-game decisions. What happens off the field between seasons lays the foundation for everything that follows. In this regard, no coach outcoached Jimbo Fisher between January and August, 2013.

After a successful 12-2 campaign in 2012, FSU had more than their share of personnel losses. The ĎNoles lost 11 starters to the NFL, more than any other FBS team, which meant that 2013 was essentially a rebuilding year. Fisher faced even a greater challenge replacing the six members of his coaching staff, including both coordinators, who left for other opportunities. Considering that FSU was entering the 2013 off season basically starting from scratch made Fisherís championship season even more remarkable.

You can read more about Fisher, Rawlings Football national high school Coach of the Year Jason Negro of St. John Bosco in California and the ten other coaches we recognize this year with Rawlings Football Coach of the Year honors. We congratulate each and thank them for providing tips you can use in your quest to become a future Rawlings Football Coach of the Year recipient.

John Gallup
Editor & Publisher


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