Football Writers Association of America Dec. 7, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Richardson
Winner to be announced on Dec. 16
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DALLAS (FWAA) – The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, has announced eight finalists for the 2015 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, whose winner will be revealed on Wed., Dec. 16.

In alphabetical order, the finalists are: Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, Houston's Tom Herman, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Temple's Matt Ruhle, Stanford's David Shaw, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Clemson's Dabo Swinney.

The finalists were placed on a ballot sent out to the entire FWAA membership today. Ballots will be accepted from the membership through 5 p.m. CT on Friday. FWAA members were asked to vote for their top choices in the order they believe the coaches are deserving of the award.

The official presentation reception will be Jan. 9, 2016, in Scottsdale, Ariz., where the winning coach will be handed the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year bust during a reception at the media hotel in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship.

The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State's Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. In 1997, the FWAA's national coach of the year award was named in honor of the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons. His 408 career Division I victories are second-most in the history of college football.

Robinson, who passed away in 2007, won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson's teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers claimed nine black college football championships during his career, all spent at the same school.

The 2015 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists:

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: The Spartans edged previously-unbeaten Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game to finish the regular season at 12-1, losing only a controversial one-point decision at Nebraska. The Big Ten title earned the Spartans a berth in the College Football Playoff, where they will face Alabama in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. The victory over Iowa in Indianapolis followed conference wins at both Michigan and Ohio State this season. Dantonio has won at least 11 games five times in the last six years in East Lansing. He has been an Eddie Robinson Award finalist twice before (2010 and 2013). Duffy Daugherty, in 1965, is Michigan State's lone winner of the award.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa: He has led the Hawkeyes to the first 12-victory season in school history and collected the Big Ten West Division title before losing a heartbreaker to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. Ferentz has weaved this team, unheralded in the preseason, into one of his best clubs. The dean of the Big Ten coaches, in his 17th year at the school, has his Hawkeyes Rose Bowl bound for the first time in 25 years, where they will face Pac-12 champion Stanford. This is the third time Ferentz has been a finalist for the award (2002 and 2004).

Tom Herman, Houston: A first-year head coach who is headed to a New Year's Six bowl, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where they will take on Florida State. The Cougars, playing in a New Year's Day bowl for the first time in 30 years, are 12-1 and champions of the American Athletic Conference. They defeated Temple in the inaugural AAC title game and have dropped only a 20-17 decision at UConn in which they played without starting quarterback Greg Ward Jr. Explosive offensively, the Cougars also have shown a stern defensive side despite Herman's reputation as an offensive whiz. Herman is just the second Eddie Robinson Award finalist from Houston, following Art Briles in 2006.

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish, headed to the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl, are 10-2 during a season in which Kelly has had to deal with a wave of injuries. Also, consider the team's two losses at top-ranked Clemson and at eventual Pac-12 champion Stanford, both by two points. Kelly is a previous FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year winner, claiming the award in 2012. Kelly was a also finalist for the award in 2009, while the head coach at Cincinnati.

Matt Rhule, Temple: He has done wonders with a Temple program that is a Top 25 team in 2015. The Owls have been nationally ranked for the first time since 1980. The former Penn State linebacker is in his third season on North Broad Street and could register the first 11-victory season in school history with a victory over Toledo in the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl. The Owls took Notre Dame down to the wire before losing and won the American Athletic Conference's East Division before falling at Houston in the conference title game. He is the first finalist from Temple.

David Shaw, Stanford: The Cardinal have lost only two games this season, the season-opener at Northwestern and a 38-36 decision to Oregon. After blasting USC in the Pac-12 title game, Shaw's Stanford team is headed to its third Rose Bowl in four seasons, led by Heisman Trophy candidate running back Christian McCaffrey. Shaw has won the Pac-12 championship three times in the last four seasons and is also a finalist for the award for the third time in that span.

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: It was a great bounceback season for the Sooners after disastrous finish to 2014. They finished the 2015 season with conference victories over ranked teams Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State to win the outright Big 12 Conference title. The Sooners carry an 11-1 record and a seven-game winning streak into the College Football Playoff at the Capital One Orange Bowl against top-seeded Clemson. Stoops is a previous Eddie Robinson Award winner in 2000, when the Sooners won the national title. He has been a finalist for the award three other times (2005, 2007 and 2008) and is the only Oklahoma coach to have won the award.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson: The unbeaten Tigers wrapped up a perfect regular season and have successfully lived with the burden of being ranked No. 1 much of the last half of the season. The Tigers defeated North Carolina to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title and set a school record with 13 victories. They boast a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback capable of taking them to the national title in Deshaun Watson, the ACC title game MVP. Clemson has won a nation-leading 16 straight games heading into the College Football Playoff. Swinney was an Eddie Robinson Award finalist in 2011 and Danny Ford won the award in 1981, Clemson's national championship season.

Celebrating its 75th season, the Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization, consists of more than 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at or 214-870-6516.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 27 national champions, 86 Hall of Fame players, 47 Hall of Fame coaches and 16 Heisman Trophy winners in its 81-year history. The 82nd Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring Oklahoma State from the Big 12 and Ole Miss from the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2016. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee is involved with various community initiatives through hosting and sponsorships of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 25,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast more than 700 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit to learn more about our story.

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