Benjamin Wolk/SEC Country
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn expressed hope to keep all of his current assistants.

Auburn football: Pair of honors for coach Gus Malzahn

Auburn football is the No. 1 topic in the War Eagle Wakeup every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Tigers’ sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Auburn football, recruiting, basketball and more.

Accepting the invite 

Things have been kind of quiet over on The Plains, but there was some excitement on Wednesday afternoon.

Auburn officially accepted its invite to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl scheduled for Jan. 1, 2018. Athletic director Jay Jacobs made a brief appearance and coach Gus Malzahn previewed the game and took questions from local media.

The Tigers will start practice on Friday afternoon, according to Malzahn. In the coming weeks, more injury updates will be provided and Malzahn will have more to report regarding younger players. Here are a few images from the day:

The man in charge

While formally accepting an invite to play in the Peach Bowl was an honor, it wasn’t the only one for Malzahn on Wednesday.

Malzahn was named a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award. He’s one of seven coaches to be distinguished as a finalist.

It’s understandable since during his fifth season in charge of the Tigers, Malzahn led them to a 10-win record that included wins against No. 1 Georgia and then No. 1 Alabama. If the Tigers defeat UCF to earn their 11th win of the season, they will become just the sixth group in Auburn history to reach that win total.

In other Auburn football news:

A special distinction 

Malzahn wasn’t the only one in the Auburn Athletics Complex claiming honors and accolades on Wednesday.

Volleyball’s Jesse Earl was named to All-America honorable mention by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. It was the first All-America recognition for the senior and also for the program.

The Indianapolis native earned back-to-back conference recognition and led the SEC with a 5.19 digs/set average — the mark also was first in Auburn single-season history.

Tweet of the day 

Auburn earned a nod of respect from a very important public figure on Wednesday.

Yang Yang, the giant panda at the Atlanta Zoo, picked the team that will win the Peach Bowl — and it was good news for the Tigers.

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