DALLAS (FWAA) The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, announced a record 13 finalists for the 2021 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award on Tuesday. Among the finalists are one former winner, three returning finalists from 2020, all four coaches competing in this season's College Football Playoff, as well as four other coaches with teams playing in New Year·s Six Bowl games. Ten of the finalists led their teams to conference championships.

In alphabetical order the finalists are: Blake Anderson, Utah State; Dave Aranda, Baylor; Luke Fickell, Cincinnati; Thomas Hammock, NIU; Jim Harbaugh, Michigan; Billy Napier, Louisiana; Pat Narduzzi, Pitt; Nick Saban, Alabama; Kalani Sitake, BYU; Kirby Smart, Georgia; Jeff Traylor, UTSA; Mel Tucker, Michigan State; and Kyle Whittingham, Utah.

Saban is the dean of the 13 finalists as a two-time winner and now eight-time finalist. Fickell, who faces Saban in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl in a College Football Playoff semifinal, and Sitake were finalists last season. Harbaugh faces Smart in the other national semifinal, at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 31. Narduzzi takes on Tucker in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Hammock faces last year's Eddie Robinson Award winner, Jamey Chadwell of Coastal Carolina, in the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl. Aranda will lead his Baylor team into New Orleans to face Ole Miss in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

"The Allstate Sugar Bowl is honored to remember a Louisiana legend by sponsoring the FWAA Coach of the Year Award named after Coach Robinson," said Ralph Capitelli, Sugar Bowl Committee President. "In addition, we have the opportunity to give recognition to the best college coaches in the nation each year. We look forward to presenting the trophy to the winner in Indianapolis next month."

The 13 finalists have been placed on a ballot which has been sent to the entire FWAA membership today. The 2021 recipient will be announced on Mon., Dec. 20. The official presentation will be at a reception Sat., Jan. 8, in Indianapolis prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship.

"We have a well-balanced group of finalists, geographically positioned across the country and coaches from all sizes of schools, said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. "Congratulations to all of the finalists for the great seasons they have had during the 2021 season."

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 was named after the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons, in 1997.

A closer look at the 2021 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists:

Blake Anderson, Utah State: Anderson, a   first-time finalist, guided Utah State (10-3) to one of the   best turnarounds in the nation in 2021 (plus-nine wins thus   far) with the Mountain West Conference title in tow following   a 1-5 record in 2020. Utah State faces Oregon State in the inaugural   Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl presented by Stifel on Dec. 18. Picked   to finish fifth in the Mountain Division in the preseason, the   Aggies recorded 10 wins for just the fourth time in school history   and became the first FBS team since 2013 to post a 7-0 road   record. Anderson is the only first-year head coach out of 19   in the FBS to win 10 games. He is Utah State's second all-time   finalist and first since Gary Andersen in 2012.

Dave Aranda, Baylor: In Aranda's second   year the Bears (11-2) patiently pushed their way to the Big   12 title, tying for the country's second-best turnaround with   nine more wins following a 2-7 season in 2020 and will now face   Ole Miss in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2022. Picked   eighth by media in the preseason, Baylor relied on Aranda's   strength defense · as the Bears held opponents 11.6 points   below their averages. A year after being last in rushing, the   Big 12 rushing leaders are one of six teams with three wins   over ranked teams this season. Aranda is the second finalist   in the last three seasons for Baylor (Matt Rhule, 2019). Grant   Teaff is the school's only previous winner from 1974.

Luke Fickell, Cincinnati: Fickell returns   as a finalist from 2020 after leading the Bearcats (13-0) to   an historic College Football Playoff bid, a first for a so-called   Group of 5 school. The American Athletic Conference champions   are the No. 4 playoff seed and one of two teams to rank in the   top 10 nationally in both scoring offense (8th, 39.2 ppg) and   scoring defense (t-4th, 16.1). Cincinnati, 22-1 the past two   seasons, has set school records for points (510) and touchdowns   (70) and faces Alabama in the CFP semifinals at the Goodyear   Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31. Cincinnati, which had Brian Kelly as   a finalist in 2009, has never had an Eddie Robinson Award winner.

Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois: Hammock   and the Huskies (9-4) won the Mid-American Conference with a   worst-to-first' season with another nine-game improvement following   an 0-6 record in 2020. NIU won seven games by one score or less   · four of them by two points or less · before easing past Kent   State 41-23 last week for their fifth MAC title of the last   11 seasons. The nine wins are NIU's most since 2014 as they   head into the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl to face Coastal Carolina.   Hammock is NIU's second all-time finalist, joining Dave Doeren   in 2012.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: Harbaugh guided   the Wolverines (12-1) to their first Big Ten Championship Game   with a resounding 42-27 win over then-No. 2 Ohio State, then   earned Michigan its 43rd Big Ten title and a spot in the College   Football Playoff with a runaway 42-3 win over Iowa in the title   game. Michigan has the nation's top turnaround thus far with   10 additional wins heading into the Capital One Orange Bowl   CFP semifinal following a 2-4 record in 2020. The Wolverines   returned to the top 10 in the national polls for the first time   since late 2019 at midseason and have remained in the top 10   for 10 consecutive weeks. Harbaugh is Michigan's first finalist   since 2011. Bo Schembechler won Michigan's only FWAA Coach of   the Year award in 1969.

Billy Napier, Louisiana: Napier, a first-time   finalist and the first in Louisiana's history, guided the Ragin'   Cajuns (12-1) to a school-record 12th straight win and a Sun   Belt Conference championship last week only days after accepting   the head coaching position at Florida. Napier was named SBC   Coach of the Year as Louisiana broke its 54-year-old win-streak   record and won the SBC's West Division for a fourth consecutive   season behind a defense that gives up only 18.7 points per game   (13th in FBS). Louisiana faces Marshall in the R+L Carriers   New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 18.

Pat Narduzzi, Pitt: Narduzzi led the Panthers   (11-2) to their first 10-win season since 1981 and their first   Atlantic Coast Conference title since joining the league in   2013 with a 45-21 win over Wake Forest in last week's ACC title   game. Narduzzi sparked one of the country's top passing combos   with All-America candidates Kenny Pickett (ACC and school-record   42 touchdown passes) throwing to Jordan Addison (national-best   17 touchdown receptions). Pitt faces Michigan State in the Chick-fil-A   Peach Bowl on Dec. 30. Narduzzi is Pitt's first finalist since   the award began naming finalists in 2010. Johnny Majors won   the FWAA Coach of the Year Award at Pitt in 1976 and 1973.   

Nick Saban, Alabama: The achievements   run long on Saban's ledger with the Eddie Robinson Award as   the top-seeded Crimson Tide (12-1) prepare to face Cincinnati   in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl in the CFP semifinals Dec. 31. Alabama   won the SEC Championship Game last week, blowing past the nation's   top defense and formerly top-ranked team, 41-24 over Georgia.   Saban is a two-time winner (at Alabama in 2008, at LSU in 2003)   and is one of Alabama's two previous winners along with Gene   Stallings in 1992. He is now an eight-time finalist, earning   the designation in five of the last eight seasons.

Kalani Sitake, BYU: Sitake is a repeat finalist   from 2020 following a season in which the Cougars (10-2) posted   five wins over Pac-12 schools, including a 26-17 win over Pac-12   champion Utah, as well as wins over Mountain West Conference   champion Utah State and Virginia. BYU running back Tyler Allgeier   is tied for the national lead with 20 rushing touchdowns and   the Cougars' offense is ranked in the top 30 in 12 different   categories. Sitake, also a finalist for entry into the Polynesian   Football Hall of Fame this year, is a former player under Lavell   Edwards, who is BYU's only previous Eddie Robinson winner from   1984.

Kirby Smart, Georgia: The Bulldogs (12-1)   owned the No. 1 spot in the polls and the College Football Playoff   rankings for most of the season prior to the SEC Championship   Game. Smart still guides the nation's top scoring defense giving   up only 9.5 points per game as the No. 3-seed Bulldogs head   into the CFP semifinals to face Michigan in Miami Gardens, Fla.   Georgia, averaging 39.4 points (seventh nationally), is 4-1   against ranked teams including a pair of top-10 wins, and is   only the fourth team in school history to finish the regular   season undefeated. Smart was also a finalist in 2017 and Georgia's   third overall. Vince Dooley won the FWAA Coach of the Year Award   in 1980.

Jeff Traylor, UTSA: Traylor took the Roadrunners   (12-1) to new heights their first C-USA West Division title,   a win in their first Conference USA Championship Game (49-41   over WKU). UTSA had an 11-game win streak to start the season   and has its winningest season yet heading into its Tropical Smoothie   Caf· Frisco Bowl berth to face San Diego State. The Roadrunners   also made their first appearance in the College Football Playoff   and both national polls, topping out at 15th in the AP poll.   Running back Sincere McCormick is having another All-America   caliber season, rushing for 1,479 yards with 15 touchdowns.   Traylor is a first-time finalist and the first in UTSA's history.

Mel Tucker, Michigan State: The Spartans   (10-2) were darlings of the Big Ten heading into November, posting   an 8-0 start (following 2-5 in 2020) and competing for the Big   Ten East Division title. Tucker rode the legs of Kenneth Walker   III, the Big Ten Running Back of the Year with 1,636 yards to   date and MSU's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2014, into the   Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl to face Pitt on Dec. 30. Tucker is MSU's   first finalist since 2015. Duffy Daugherty won the Spartans'   only FWAA Coach of the Year Award in 1965.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah: Whittingham, a finalist   from the 2008 season, became Utah's (10-3) all-time wins leader   (143) while earning the Utes' first Pac-12 Championship since   joining the league in 2011 with its runaway win over Oregon.   After a 1-2 start, Utah has won 9 of 10 games going into its   first Rose Bowl appearance where it will take on Ohio State.   Utah's defense ranks fourth in the FBS in tackles for loss per   game (7.6) and is 12th in team sacks (3.17). Whittingham, Utah's   only previous finalist, is preceded by Urban Meyer, the Utes'   only previous winner, from 2004.

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

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 99 Hall of Fame players, 51 Hall of Fame coaches and 19 Heisman Trophy winners in its 87-year history. The 88th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic is scheduled to be played on Jan. 1, 2022 between Baylor and Ole Miss. 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, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or

2021 Eddie Robinson Award

Thirteen finalists named for 2021 Eddie Robinson Award

· Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award
| All-time winners