Sam Houston head coach Willie Fritz is one of 20 head coaches in the nation who have been named as finalists announced for the 25th Eddie Robinson Award, which honors the national coach of the year in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The winner of the Robinson Award, presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com, will be announced at the national awards banquet on Friday, Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas – the night before the national championship game.
A panel of more than 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the Robinson Award winner. Voting will reflect only the regular season. The FCS playoffs begin Saturday.
The 20 Eddie Robinson Award finalists are:
Pete Adrian, Norfolk State – Adrian led the Spartans to a 9-2 regular-season record and their first outright Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship as well as their first FCS playoff bid. The Spartans were picked fifth in the MEAC’s preseason poll.
Rob Ambrose, Towson – After finishing 3-19 in his first two seasons at Towson, Ambrose led the Tigers to a 9-2 record and their first CAA Football title and FCS playoff bid. The Tigers were picked last in the CAA’s preseason poll.
Craig Bohl, North Dakota State – The Bison enter the FCS playoffs as Missouri Valley Football Conference co-champions and with the No. 2 seed. They went
10-1 in the regular season and spent time at No. 1.
Watson Brown, Tennessee Tech – The Golden Eagles had losing records in five of the last six seasons, but Brown has led them to a 7-3 record, a share of their first Ohio Valley Conference title since 1975 and the conference’s automatic playoff bid.
Nigel Burton, Portland State – In Burton’s second season, the Vikings improved by five wins to 7-4 while tying for third place in the Big Sky Conference.
They were picked seventh in the conference’s preseason poll.
Ron Caragher, San Diego – The Toreros overcame back-to-back losing seasons by finishing 9-2 for the third time in Caragher’s five seasons. They shared the Pioneer Football League championship with Drake.
Andy Coen, Lehigh – Coen guided the Mountain Hawks to their second straight perfect season in the Patriot League, finishing 10-1 overall in the regular season. They earned a first-round bye in the FCS playoffs.
Clint Conque, Central Arkansas – The new purple and gray field at Central Arkansas didn’t just dizzy opponents, Conque’s 8-3 squad was up to the task as it qualified for the FCS playoffs. The Bears’ only Southland Conference loss was to unbeaten Sam Houston State.
Chris Creighton, Drake – Creighton took his squad from an offseason trip to Africa to a share of the Pioneer Football League championship with San Diego.
The Bulldogs finished 9-2 for their best record in Creighton’s four seasons.
Bob Ford, Albany – Ford earned his 250th career win en route to the Great Danes going 8-3 and capturing a share of the Northeast Conference title and their first playoff bid. Ford has coached at Albany for 42 seasons.
Willie Fritz, Sam Houston State – The Bearkats were the only unbeaten FCS team in the regular season, finishing 11-0 with a win over FBS New Mexico. In Fritz’s second season, the Southland Conference champions are ranked No. 1 heading into the playoffs, where they are the top seed.
Gary Harrell, Howard – The Bison improved from 1-10 to 5-6 in Harrell’s first season, including a 4-4 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They had a 27-game conference losing streak entering the season.
Anthony Jones, Alabama A&M – The Bulldogs reversed a 3-8 finish in 2010 by going 8-3, qualifying for the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game for the fifth time in Jones’ 10 seasons. They had a seven-game winning streak after an 0-2 start.
Kevin Kelly, Georgetown – Hoya Paranoia found its way to the gridiron as Kelly led his team to its first winning season (8-3) since 1999 despite playing only four home games. Their 3-2 Patriot record was their best since joining the league in 2001.
Jeff Monken, Georgia Southern – The Eagles won the Southern Conference title with a 9-2 record and spent seven weeks as the FCS’ top-ranked team. They earned the third seed for the playoffs.
Tim Murphy, Harvard – Murphy won his sixth Ivy League title while guiding the Crimson to a 9-1 record. They went 7-0 in league games, finishing three games ahead of the four second-place teams.
Chris Mussman, North Dakota – The Fighting Sioux captured a share of the final Great West Football Conference title, reversing a 3-8 record in 2010 with an 8-3 mark this season. Two of the losses were against FBS teams.
Robin Pflugrad, Montana – After the Grizzlies’ 17-year playoff run ended last year, Pflugrad has taken them back as the Big Sky Conference co-champion. They won their final seven games in the regular season to improve to 9-2.
Chuck Priore, Stony Brook – The Seawolves overcame an 0-3 start (including losses to two FBS schools) to earn their first outright Big South Conference title and bid to the playoffs. They ended the regular season with an 8-3 mark.
Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion – In the Monarchs’ first season in the rugged CAA, they went 9-2 overall and tied for second place. They secured their first playoff bid in just their third season as a program.