UCF coach Gus Malzahn is coaching on another level against SMU ... quite literally. The 56-year-old is calling plays from a roughly six-foot platform during Saturday's game after breaking his right tibia in last week's 14-10 win over Tulane.
The longtime Auburn coach is seated on a folding chair behind a collapsible table, resembling a farmer's market vendor in every way except for his UCF gear and headset.
Earlier this week, Malzahn expressed skepticism about the unconventional setup on 96.9 The Game. Malzahn said he prefers to be an "active guy" on the sideline, visiting various position groups during timeouts. That wouldn't exactly be possible with crutches, so he pivoted to the platform.
"It's going to be a different deal for me," Malzahn said, "there's no doubt."
While unusual, Malzahn's setup is far from the oddest college football has seen. Liberty coach Hugh Freeze owns that title after coaching the Flames' 2019 season-opener from a hospital bed. Freeze, who also gave a rousing pre-game speech from his bed, was recovering from surgery at the time.
Here’s a look at Hugh Freeze’s seat in the coaches’ booth.— Nate Mink (@MinkNate) August 31, 2019
Freeze will essentially videoconference with his team pregame and at halftime and do so during postgame press conference.
The plan is to fly him to Louisiana next week to be with the team on the road. pic.twitter.com/YA1HAXiQ43
Liberty fell 24-0 to Syracuse in Freeze's hospital-bed game, so Malzahn will hope for a better outcome from his platform. The visiting Knights also lost to SMU 55-28.