It’s awards season in college football and the top players and coaches across the nation are receiving recognition for their impressive performances in 2016.
On Tuesday morning, the Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, announced five finalists for the 2016 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.
This year’s finalists include a group of coaches who exceeded any and all expectations this year, along with Alabama’s Nick Saban, who consistently leads one of the top programs in the nation.
The 2016 finalists are Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Penn State’s James Franklin, Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, Washington’s Chris Petersen and Alabama’s Nick Saban.
“This is an especially strong field of candidates,” said FWAA President Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Each one of these coaches could win the award and probably would in most other seasons. They all set the bar extraordinarily high, and whoever does win Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year will further honor the great man for whom we present this award.”
The winner of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will be announced on Dec. 15.
The complete list of finalists from the official release can be seen below:
P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan: The former NFL player and assistant coach has taken the Broncos (13-0) to their first unbeaten regular season in school history and back-to-back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time. The Broncos have scored a school record number of points (566) this season and were the last team in the country to commit a turnover. The Mid-American Conference champions are headed to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl to face Wisconsin.
James Franklin, Penn State: After a 2-2 start, the Nittany Lions won nine straight games to win the Big Ten Conference in Franklin’s third season in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Wisconsin, 38-31, in the Big Ten title game. During the nine-game winning streak, Penn State was the only team to beat College Football Playoff-bound Ohio State. Franklin will take Penn State to the Rose Bowl Game to play USC.
Mike MacIntyre, Colorado: The Buffaloes had won only two of their previous 27 Pac-12 Conference games prior to this season, when they won eight league games to claim the South Division title. The Buffaloes were picked to finish last in the South, but won ten games for the first time since 2001. The son of former college head coach George MacIntyre has authored perhaps the best turnaround story in college football this season.
Chris Petersen, Washington: After 8-6 and 7-6 seasons which produced minor bowl trips for the Huskies, Petersen’s team has made a breakthrough nationally, earning a spot in the College Football Playoff with a 12-1 record. Still one of the younger teams in the Pac-12, the Huskies defeated Colorado, 41-10, in the Pac-12 title game to win their first league title since 2000. The Huskies, whose lone loss was to Rose Bowl-bound USC, face Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
Nick Saban, Alabama: He has put together a continuing dynasty in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where the Crimson Tide is vying for its fifth national title in eight years. Alabama is currently riding a 25-game winning streak, the longest in the FBS. The nation’s top-ranked team team dominated the SEC with an unbeaten record (13-0) led by one of the nation’s best defenses. Alabama begins its quest to repeat as national champions in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl vs. Washington.
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