This past year I joined the FWAA - the Football Writers Association of America. One of the things I get to do as a member of the FWAA is vote on the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.
Below are this year's candidates. We're asked to rank them one through seven.
Mack Brown, Texas
Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Brian Kelly, Cincinnati
Chip Kelly, Oregon
Gary Patterson, TCU
Chris Petersen, Boise State
Nick Saban, Alabama
My initial thought is to put Chip Kelly at the top. Oregon began the season looking horrid in their 19-8 loss against Boise State. At the time I thought there was no way the Ducks would have a decent season, yet later, there they were, beating the snot out of USC, 47-20, beating Oregon State 37-33 and earning their first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1995. The fact that Kelly could make that big a turn-around in a single season - that's coaching.
Mack Brown's Longhorn team had a great season, but I don't feel that he did anything special. They played no one of substance during non-conference, and the Big 12 had a down year. Texas has more advantages than just about anyone (save Florida, USC) in college football.
Paul Johnson's Yellow Jacket team had a pretty good season. Georgia Tech finished 11-2, won the ACC, and earned a trip to the Orange Bowl to play Iowa. That's pretty decent for a guy in only his second year. Should I be ranking him higher than I am?
Nick Saban should probably win this award. He has the top team in the land, and the Crimson Tide beat the tar out of their nemesis Florida in the SEC Championship game. Unfortunately, I see Saban as nothing more than a mercenary. The question no one seems to be asking is - "If Saban wins a national championship for Alabama, where is he going next?". People have forgotten Saban's ability to extort.
Chris Peterson and Gary Patterson deserve some credit for the seasons they've put together. Patterson's TCU team pounded most of the teams they played, with wins over Clemson, Air Force, and BYU. Peterson's Bronco team beat Oregon soundly in the first game of the year, but sadly played no one else of much substance the rest of the season.
Brian Kelly at Cincinnati lost any consideration when he changed jobs at the end of the season. I don't care if it's Notre Dame or Kansas, you lose your right to awards consideration when you just left a group of young men you convinced to come to a school.
Right now my vote looks like this:
Tell me where I'm wrong.