This season has featured some very impressive coaching performances, with numerous coaches elevating their teams way beyond where people expected. Today, the nine finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award were announced.
The group is a nice mix of guys from very different situations. Five of the nine are Power Five coaches, three are set to coach in the College Football Playoff, and two are in their first years as head coach.
We also have a pair of coaches who are set to parlay their big seasons into new jobs. The full list, from Bruce Feldman:
Eddie Robinson Coach of Year Award finalists: Ryan Day, OhioState; Eli Drinkwitz, App State; Sonny Dykes, SMU; P.J. Fleck, Minnesota; Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Mike Norvell, Memphis; Ed Orgeron, LSU; Matt Rhule, Baylor
& Dabo Swinney, Clemson.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 10, 2019
–Ryan Day (13-0) won a Big Ten Championship in his first year as Buckeyes head coach. Taking over for Urban Meyer was a daunting task, but there’s a chance this team is better than any of Meyer’s teams in Columbus.
–Eli Drinkwitz (12-1) stepped right in for Scott Satterfield at Appalachian State and won the Sun Belt. He is set to take the Missouri job after one year in Boone.
–Sonny Dykes (10-2) looks like a great fit at SMU after an up-and-down tenure at Cal. The team jumped out to a 6-0 start, and picked up its first 10-win season since 1984.
–P.J. Fleck (10-2) had Minnesota on the cusp of a Big Ten West title, and led the league’s surprise team in the Gophers. The Gophers hadn’t won 10 games since 2003, and has a chance at 11 wins for the first time since 1904.
–Bryan Harsin (12-1) kept things rolling at Boise State. The Broncos won the Mountain West for the third time during his stint.
–Mike Norvell (12-1) led Memphis to the best year of any Group of Five team this season, as ranked by the selection committee. The Tigers are Cotton Bowl-bound, and Norvell has landed the Florida State job.
–Ed Orgeron (13-0) needs no introduction here. Coach O’s Bayou Bengals are the No. 1 team in the country heading into the College Football Playoff.
–Matt Rhule (11-2) inherited a very ugly situation at Baylor, and went from 1-11 to 11-2 in just two years. The Bears are heading to the Sugar Bowl.
–Dabo Swinney (13-0) has yet another ACC Championship and Playoff berth under his belt. He’s the only guy in the country at this point that can be reasonably put in the Nick Saban tier.
The Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, named for the legendary Grambling State head coach who was today ranked as one of the 10 best in college football history by ESPN, has been given out since 1957. UAB’s Bill Clark was the recipient last season.