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Schutt - FBS Coach of the Year Finalistsby: Mike Kuchar
Senior Writer, American Football Monthly
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Nick Saban has won plenty of hardware in his illustrious career, and he’ll add more to his mantle this year. The Associated Press and SEC Coach of the Year has single-handedly restored the pride back in Alabama football. After struggling through a 7-6 record in 2007, Saban and his staff rolled the Tide to a 12-1 mark and a berth in the Sugar Bowl. At one point during the season, Alabama was the number one team in the country in each of the three polls, the first time that has happened since 1980. The five-game improvement is the greatest by a second-year head coach in Alabama history.
Who says you can’t win in Buffalo? Gill surprised the entire country this season with his record-setting effort at Buffalo. Garnering their first ever Mid-American Conference Championship, the Bulls finished 8-5 and secured a bid in the International Bowl, their first bowl game in school history. The trademark of a well-coached team is the ability to progressively get better as the season rolls on and Gill’s squad won six of their last seven games including a 42-24 win over previously-unbeaten Ball State to capture the MAC crown.
It didn’t take Johnson long to silence the myriad of critics who felt his triple option offense would never succeed at the top level of college football. Despite producing winning programs and top-notch offenses at nearby Georgia Southern University and the United States Naval Academy, there were plenty of pundits who felt it wouldn’t happen in Atlanta. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only was Johnson’s offense productive, it was downright dominating at times – the Yellowjackets posted over 40 points in three of their nine wins this season. In fact, Georgia Tech’s offense finished tops in the ACC in total offense (377.3 ypg) and first in rushing offense – amassing 282 yards per game, one hundred more per game than runner-up Florida State.
Whittingham has officially stepped out of the shadow of former Utah coach Urban Meyer. The DC under Meyer, Whittingham produced a record setting season for the Utes. Utah has finished the regular season with a 12-0 record, one of only two undefeated teams in the country, and a number seven ranking at the end of the season. It was a season that produced a Mountain West Conference Championship as well as an upset win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. It’s only the fourth time that a non-BCS conference school has been awarded a bid to play in a BCS bowl game.
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