Dantonio finalist for award

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MSU’s Mark Dantonio is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. (Daily Star Photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

MSU’s Mark Dantonio is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. (Daily Star Photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

DALLAS  — The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, has announced eight finalists for the 2010 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

The winner will be revealed on Dec. 6 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

The finalists are Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, Auburn’s Gene Chizik, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh, Oregon’s Chip Kelly, TCU’s Gary Patterson and Boise State’s Chris Petersen.

The finalists were placed on a ballot to be electronically distributed to the entire 1,200-plus FWAA membership. Ballots will be accepted until midnight after games of Sat., Nov. 27.

The FWAA coaching award is named after the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 years. He has more Division I victories (408) than any other coach in the history of college football. The FWAA has presented a national coach of the year award since 1957 and named the award in Robinson’s honor in 1997.

Robinson, who passed away on April 3, 2007, won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson’s teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers claimed nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.

The move to present this award in New York City is a natural. The Grambling Tigers, coached by Robinson from 1941-97, played numerous regular-season games at Yankee Stadium starting in the late 1960s and into the 1970s and then later at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Prior to this year, the Eddie Robinson Award had been announced and presented at the site of the Bowl Championship Series title game in early January for several years.

Here is a look at the eight finalists:

• Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema has the Badgers at 10-1 heading into the season finale against Northwestern on Saturday. Wisconsin has lost only to Michigan State this season and is still in contention for a berth to the Rose Bowl. The Badgers have won six straight conference games. Bielema is in his fifth season at Wisconsin.

• Auburn’s Gene Chizik has a berth in the Southeastern Conference title game wrapped up no matter what the Tigers (11-0) do against Alabama on Friday. After spending two seasons as head coach at Iowa State, Chizik took over Auburn last season and posted an 8-5 record and a victory over Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.

• Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has overcome a heart attack this season to direct the Spartans to a 10-1 record with only a game remaining against Penn State on Saturday. The Spartans, locked in a three-way tie with Ohio State and Wisconsin for the Big Ten Conference lead, have lost only at Iowa this season.

• Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy has directed the Cowboys to the cusp of their first outright Big 12 South Division title and first 10-victory season. With a victory over Oklahoma this Saturday, the once-beaten Cowboys will win the South title outright and gain their first berth in a Big 12 title game in the final season it will be played.

• Jim Harbaugh, in his fourth season at Stanford, has led the Cardinal to a 10-1 record with a game remaining against Oregon State on Saturday. This is Stanford’s first 10-victory season since Bill Walsh went 10-3 in 1992 during his second stint as Stanford’s head coach. A 48-14 Stanford victory over Cal on Saturday was the most lopsided in the series in 80 years.

• Oregon’s second-year head coach Chip Kelly in a finalist for the second straight season as he has gotten his unbeaten Ducks to the No. 1 ranking in college football, just two victories away from a probable berth in the BCS title game. The Ducks (10-0) lead the country in scoring with 50.7 points per game. The Ducks have games remaining against Arizona and Oregon State.

• Gary Patterson has led TCU (11-0) to within one game of its second straight unbeaten regular season, with only New Mexico left this Saturday. The Mountain West Conference champions have a great chance to appear in a BCS Bowl for the second straight season and an outside chance of making the BCS 1-2 game.

• Chris Petersen keeps doing it at Boise State with another Western Athletic Conference title in sight. This season the Broncos are 10-0 and likely headed to another BCS game if they can win their remaining two games against Nevada and Utah State. Boise State has the longest winning streak in college football (24 straight victories). This is the fourth time Petersen has been a finalist for the award.

Of the eight finalists, only Patterson has previously won the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. He collected it last season when the Horned Frogs put together their first unbeaten regular season since 1938. Patterson was also a finalist for the award in 2003.