Not surprisingly, yet another coaching award has a decidedly familiar feel to it.
In the midst of the start of the second Early National Signing Period Wednesday, a group of seven finalists were announced for the 2018 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, one of the nation’s top awards for college football coaches. Named in honor of the Alabama legend, those seven finalists are:
- Bill Clark — UAB
- Josh Heupel — UCF
- Brian Kelly — Notre Dame
- Jeff Monken — Army
- Nick Saban — Alabama
- Dabo Swinney — Clemson
- Jeff Tedford — Fresno State
Swinney is looking to become the first coach in the 33-year history of the award to win it three consecutive years, after becoming the first to win it in back-to-back years two seasons ago. In January of 2017, Swinney joined Boise State’s Chris Petersen (2006, 2009) as the only two-time winners.
In addition to Swinney, two other College Football Playoff semifinalists, Kelly and Saban, are up for the honor.
Clark, Heupel, Saban, Swinney and Tedford all won their respective conference championships. Kelly has Notre Dame in the playoffs for the first time in the program’s history, while Monken, a finalist for last year’s Bear Bryant Award, would set a service academy record with an 11th win this season if the Black Knights come out on top in their bowl game.