From the hot seat to a national coach of the year candidate - what a difference a year makes.
Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel was named a finalist for the Maxwell Football Club's Collegiate Coach of the Year Award, the organization announced Tuesday.
Pinkel brought the Tigers back into the national spotlight in 2013 after a struggle in their inaugural Southeastern Conference campaign in 2012. After going 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the SEC last season, the Tigers own an 11-1 overall record and a SEC East Division title after a 7-1 league slate.
Missouri has ascended to No. 5 in the Bowl Championship Series standings heading into Saturday's SEC championship game against No. 3 Auburn (11-1) in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Missouri's 28-21 victory against then-No. 19 Texas A&M last Saturday not only clinched the SEC East for the Tigers, but also matched Pinkel with legendary Tiger head coach Don Faurot with an all-time program-best 101 wins.
Other finalists are Duke's David Cutcliffe and Auburn's Gus Malzahn.
Cutcliffe took a perennial cellar-dweller and turned it into a winner. The Blue Devils are bowl-eligible in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. Missouri fans can root for Cutcliffe's team when Duke takes on Florida State in the ACC championship game Saturday.
Malzahn has led an Auburn resurgence similar to Missouri's story. Auburn went 3-9 last season and 0-8 in the SEC. Malzahn, in his first year as the head coach at Auburn, has gone 11-1 and 7-1 in the SEC.
The announcement of the winner will be made Dec. 19 and the award will be formally presented at the 77th Maxwell Awards Gala that will be held in March 2014 in Atlantic City, N.J.