MEMPHIS, Tenn–The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with theAllstate Sugar Bowl, has announced University of Memphis head coach Justin Fuente is one of eight finalists for the 2014 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. The winner will be revealed on Mon., Dec. 15.
In alphabetical order, the other finalists are: Baylor’s Art Briles, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Boise State’s Bryan Harsin, Oregon’s Mark Helfrich, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, TCU’s Gary Patterson and Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Fuente led the 9-3 Tigers to a share of the American Athletic Conference title, Memphis’ first conference championship since 1971. Memphis’ nine wins is the most regular-season victories since 1963.
The third-year head coach inherited a program which won five combined games in the three prior season before taking over the program. On being named Memphis’ head coach, he was simultaneously charged with building a program as well as oversight of the program’s transition to the American Athletic Conference.
The eight 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. 10, 2015, in Dallas, 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 Game.
The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was named the first recipient.
The FWAA’s national coach of the year award is named after the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons. He has more Division I victories (408) than any other coach 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.