Dabo Swinney a Finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year

Zach Lentz

DALLAS (FWAA) – The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, announced nine finalists for the 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award on Tuesday. Among the finalists are three previous finalists and three of the four head coaches competing in the College Football Playoff.

In alphabetical order the finalists are: Ryan Day, Ohio State; Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State; Sonny Dykes, SMU; P.J. Fleck, Minnesota; Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Mike Norvell, Memphis; Ed Orgeron, LSU; Matt Rhule, Baylor; and Dabo Swinney, Clemson.

This is the third consecutive season for Swinney to be a finalist and the fifth time overall (also 2015 and '11). Fleck was a finalist in 2016 at Western Michigan and Harsin was a finalist in 2014 at Boise State. The 2019 recipient will be announced on Friday, Dec. 20.

"These nine coaches have had outstanding seasons," 2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. "We could not be happier to present this award next month in New Orleans, as each individual exemplifies the values embodied by the award’s namesake, Eddie Robinson."

The official presentation reception will be on Jan. 11, 2020, in New Orleans where the winning coach will be handed the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year bust during a reception hosted by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship.

"The Allstate Sugar Bowl is proud each year to recognize the top college football coach in the nation while at the same time honoring the great accomplishments of a Louisiana legend, Coach Eddie Robinson," said Monique Morial, the President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. "And we're excited that this year we will be recognizing the winner right here in New Orleans as part of the College Football Playoff National Championship festivities that we’re hosting in January."

The nine finalists have been placed on a ballot which has been sent to the entire FWAA membership. Ballots will be accepted through 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 13.

The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State's Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. The FWAA coaching award is named after the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons.

The 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists:

Ryan Day, Ohio State: Day was the media's choice for Big Ten Coach of the Year. The last time Ohio State had a coach named Big Ten Coach of the Year was 1979, the year Day was born. The 40-year drought ended last week as the first-year coach guided Ohio State to a 13-0 season with a Big Ten Championship win and a berth into the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes dominated the Big Ten this season powered by the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense (48.7), No. 5 total offense (531.0), No. 2 total defense (247.6) and No. 2 (tied) scoring defense (12.5).

Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State: In Drinkwitz's one season at the helm, Appalachian State (12-1) won its fourth straight Sun Belt Conference title and made history as the first 12-win Sun Belt team and earned the highest national ranking in school and conference history. The No. 20 Mountaineers became the first Sun Belt team to beat two Power Five teams (North Carolina and South Carolina, both on the road) in the same season. Drinkwitz has accepted the same position at Missouri.

Sonny Dykes, SMU: In his second year with the Mustangs, Dykes led SMU to its first 10-win season (10-2) since 1984 and its first perfect home season (6-0) since 1968. The Mustangs are No. 6 nationally in scoring offense (43.0, currently a school record), No. 9 in total offense (495.3, currently a school record) and No. 12 in passing offense (309.3, second all-time at the school), while the defense set school records with 50 sacks (second nationally, one behind Ohio State) and 105 tackles for loss (fourth nationally, 8.75 per game).

P.J. Fleck, Minnesota: The Gophers won 10 games (10-2) in the regular season for the first time since 1905 and won seven Big Ten games for the first time in school history. Minnesota's 31-26 home win over Penn State was its first against a top five opponent since 1999 and its first home win against a top five team since 1977. The Gophers reached as high as No. 7 in the AP poll, their highest ranking since 1962. Fleck was the coaches' selection as the Big Ten Coach of the Year, marking the third time in the last seven seasons, Fleck has earned a conference coach of the year nod.

Bryan Harsin, Boise State: Harsin has led the Broncos to a 12-1 record and a second conference title in three seasons following a 31-10 win over Hawaii in the Mountain West Championship Game. The 12 wins are the most in a season for Boise State since Harsin's first season in 2014 and the Broncos went a perfect 8-0 in Mountain West play for the first time since joining the conference in 2011. Boise State reached as high as No. 19 in the CFP rankings.

Mike Norvell, Memphis: Norvell has Memphis headed to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl as the Group of 5 representative after the Tigers (12-1) captured their first outright conference championship in 50 years. Memphis is No. 17 in the final CFP rankings following a regular season that saw the Tigers in the top 10 in scoring offense (No. 8, 40.5) and post 87 plays gaining 20-plus yards (tied for 6th nationally). Norvell has accepted the same position at Florida State.

Ed Orgeron, LSU: Orgeron has the Tigers at 13-0 for just the second time in school history and taking their SEC Championship into their first College Football Playoff game as the top-ranked team to face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. LSU defeated five top-10 teams in the regular season – Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and then Georgia last week in the SEC Championship Game – behind the play of record-setting quarterback Joe Burrow, and is only the second team (Notre Dame, 1943) to do that prior to its bowl game. The Tigers have won 14 straight dating back to last year's Fiesta Bowl and have scored in 49 of 52 quarters this season.

Matt Rhule, Baylor: The Bears (11-2) reached their first Big 12 Championship Game before falling to CFP No. 4-ranked Oklahoma and will play in the 2020 Allstate Sugar Bowl against Georgia. Defense guided Baylor's fortunes as the Bears forced at least two takeaways in nine of their 13 games, including 16 interceptions in their last 10 games and at least one takeaway in their last 15 overall. The Bears have a school-record 43.0 sacks through 13 games after totaling only 25 in 2018. Baylor was 1-11 two years ago and 7-6 last season.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson: The Tigers became the first school to win five straight conference championship games last week with a 62-17 dismantling of Virginia in the ACC Championship Game, Clemson's sixth under Swinney and 19th ACC title overall. Clemson is near the top of every major statistical category, leading the country in total defense (244.7) and scoring defense (10.6) while also posting the No. 3 total offense (547.7) and No. 4 scoring offense (46.5). The Tigers held eight of 13 opponents to 10 points or less while scoring 40 or more points 10 times and 50-plus seven times.

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football's most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 93 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 85-year history. The 86th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring the Baylor Bears from the Big 12 and the Georgia Bulldogs from the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2020. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year and has injected over $2.5 billion into the local economy over the last decade. For more information, visit AllstateSugarBowl.org.

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