15 FCS coaches named Eddie Robinson Award finalists

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CRAIG HALEY (STATS FCS Senior Editor=)
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(STATS) - Fifteen coaches who have helped write some of the great storylines in college football were selected Monday as finalists for the 32nd STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award, which honors the national coach of the year.

Named for the legendary coach of Grambling State and first presented in 1987, the Robinson Award's esteemed list of winners include Mark Duffner, Erk Russell, Chris Ault, Jim Tressel, Houston Nutt, Andy Talley, Paul Johnson, Joe Glenn, Mike Ayers, Jerry Kill, Jerry Moore, K.C. Keeler and two-time winners Mickey Matthews, Sean McDonnell and Craig Bohl.

This year's finalists include at least one from all 13 FCS conferences. A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the winner.

The 2018 Eddie Robinson Award finalists:

Brian Bohannon, Kennesaw State - The Owls' fourth-year program swept their way to a second straight Big South title and finished the regular season with a 10-game winning streak and the No. 2 national ranking. Record: 10-1, 5-0 Big South.

Joe Harasymiak, Maine - Despite playing only four home games this season, the Black Bears won an outright CAA Football title and gained their third all-time FBS win (Western Kentucky). Record: 8-3, 7-1 CAA.

Dan Hawkins, UC Davis - With their best Division I season, the Aggies earned a share of the Big Sky title, beat an FBS opponent (San Jose State) and surged to as high as No. 4 nationally. Record: 9-2, 7-1 Big Sky.

Roger Hughes, Stetson - After finishing 2-9 a year ago, the Hatters were the second most-improved FCS team in the regular season. Their 8-2 record (plus-7 from last year) was their first winning mark since returning to football in 2013. Record: 8-2, 6-2 Pioneer.

Dan Hunt, Colgate - While winning their first nine games, the Patriot League champion Raiders allowed only 29 points, posting five shutouts to tie the FCS single-season record. They lost only to Army West Point. Record: 9-1, 6-0 Patriot.

Chris Klieman, North Dakota State - With a perfect regular season, the Bison won a record eighth straight Missouri Valley Football Conference title and are the No. 1 playoff seed as they go after a record seventh FCS championship (Klieman has led three title seasons). Record: 11-0, 8-0 Missouri Valley.

Dale Lindsey, San Diego - The Toreros went 8-0 while claiming their fifth straight Pioneer Football League title and own the longest home win streak (21) and conference win streak (29) in the FCS. Record: 9-2, 8-0 Pioneer.

Curt Mallory, Indiana State - In Mallory's second season, the Sycamores overcame a rash of injuries with an FCS-high 7.5-win improvement from last year's 0-11 mark. Picked last in the Missouri Valley Football Conference's preseason poll, they tied for third. Record: 7-4, 5-3 Missouri Valley.

Tom Matukewicz, Southeast Missouri - The Redhawks ended Jacksonville State's 36-game Ohio Valley Conference winning streak and posted their first winning record and earned their first playoff bid since 2010. Record: 8-3, 6-2 Ohio Valley.

Fred McNair, Alcorn State - McNair improved to 3-for-3 in winning SWAC East Division titles as the Braves because the first team to reach the conference championship game in five consecutive seasons. Record: 8-3, 6-1 SWAC.

Eric Morris, UIW - In Morris' first season, the Cardinal flipped 1-10 overall and 1-7 Southland records last year to claim a share of their first conference championship and playoff bid. They also are nationally ranked for the first time. Record: 6-4, 6-2 Southland.

Randy Sanders, ETSU - In their fourth season since returning to football and Sanders' first with the Bucs, they claimed a share of the Southern Conference title and a playoff bid. A year ago, they were 2-6 in conference games. Record: 8-3, 6-2 Southern.

Jerry Schmitt, Duquesne - The Dukes earned a share of the Northeast Conference title and the automatic qualifier for the playoffs. Their only FCS loss was by one point just two days after a player's death, and they have won five straight games since then. Record: 8-3, 5-1 Northeast.

Bob Surace, Princeton - The Tigers finished the season as 10-0 Ivy League champions, outscoring opponents by an average of 34 points per game. They claimed their first outright title since 1995 and first unbeaten record since 1964. Record: 10-0, 7-0 Ivy.

Sam Washington, North Carolina A&T - The Aggies beat an FBS program (East Carolina), won an outright MEAC title and qualified for the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl in Washington's first season. Record: 9-2, 6-1 MEAC.

The Eddie Robinson Award will be presented at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 4. At the banquet, STATS will also present the Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), the Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year) and the Doris Robinson FCS Scholar-Athlete of the Year.