Who will be the AP Coach of the Year?

The Associated Press has been selecting a college football Coach of the Year since 1998 and no one has yet to won the award three times.

Alabama's Nick Saban could be the first.

For the first time, the AP asked its poll voters to cast a ballot for national coach of the year with a top three, in order. Three points are awarded for a first-place vote, two for second a one for third.

The voting was conducted after championship weekend and 10 coaches received support, including Saban, who won the award in 2003 when he was at LSU and against in 2008 with Alabama.

The winner will be announced Thursday. Here are the top three vote-getters in alphabetical order:

James Franklin, Penn State

In the offseason, Franklin brought in a new offensive coordinator, Joe Moorhead, to overhaul that side of the ball and promoted Brent Pry to defensive coordinator to maintain recent success on that side. Both moves worked, but Penn State needed some time to settle in. After a 2-2 start that had some Penn State fans questioning how long the third-year coach would be around, the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions won nine straight and the Big Ten championship for the first time since 2008.

Mike MacIntyre, Colorado

MacIntyre entered his fourth season at Colorado under pressure to produce results. The Buffaloes had improved in his first three seasons, but still managed only two Pac-12 victories. The rebuild took a huge step forward this season. The 11th-ranked Buffaloes won the Pac-12 South and had their best season in more than a decade. Their seven-win improvement in Pac-12 play is the largest in the history of the conference. MacIntyre has gone from hot seat to hot commodity.

Nick Saban, Alabama

Saban is arguably the most successful coach in college football history. He could be Coach of the Year every year but his accomplishments at Alabama tend to get overlooked during award season because he has established such high standards with the top-ranked Crimson Tide. After winning a fourth national championship at Alabama, he brought back an even better team led by a freshman quarterback that is undefeated heading into the playoff.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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