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A new standard needed for Coach of the Year awards

Alabama football coach, Nick Saban and Brian Kelly have both won COTY awards this season. A new standard may be needed to measure the achievement.

Alabama football coach, Nick Saban recently won another Coach of the Year award. This one from the Walter Camp Foundation for the 2018 season. Saban has now been named COTY 11 times from various major organizations.

There are quite a few groups who name a COTY. Nick has been awarded twice now by the Walter Camp Foundation, 2008 and 2018. Saban has also won the Eddie Robinson COTY award twice in 2003 and 2008. The AP COTY award went to Nick also in 2003 and 2008. In 2003, he won the Paul “Bear” Bryant COTY award. In 2008, he also won the Home Depot COTY and the Sporting News COTY awards. The Bobby Dodd COTY award went to Saban in 2014.

That is a massive amount of recognition for one coach, but Saban could have easily won more. Some of the 2018 COTY awards will not be named until the full football season is complete, so Nick may rack up more in January.

Are there too many COTY awards? Answers probably depend on who is asked. As long as sponsors and organizations stay inclined, there will be lots of awards and multiple COTY winners every year. That is okay, even if it is much like the old unclear distinctions among multiple, named national champions.

It would be great to have one COTY just as the college football world now has one National Champion. That will not happen for several reasons. The biggest reason being, Nick Saban would win it too often.

Another approach would be to have consistent standards for choosing the COTY. Often now, it appears the award goes to the coach who most exceeded expectations. So Nick is graded on massive expectations and the other coaches are graded on a curve.

How else could Scott Frost have been named COTY last season and not Nick Saban? There can only be a few confused souls who believe last season, Scott Frost was a better coach than Nick Saban. What Frost did was exceed at a lower level of expectations.

There should be a separate award for coaches who exceeded expectations but who were not necessarily the best coach in a given season. UAB’s Bill Clark was named Eddie Robinson COTY for 2018 on the basis of exceeding expectations. His selection may have been the most deserving ever.

Then you have Brian Kelly. Kelly has won top COTY awards eight times going back to 2009. Kelly actually was named COTY by five organizations in 2012. His 2012 team, however, had the misfortune of facing the nations best coach on Jan. 7, 2013 when it was obliterated by Alabama football.  The classic line in the broadcast of that national championship game was,

If it had been a fight, they would have stopped it.

It is not difficult to conclude Nick Saban, not Brian Kelly deserved those five, 2012 COTY awards. There is a strong chance Kelly’s 2018 AP and Home Depot COTY awards will also be blemished. That is after Dabo and his Tigers get finished with the Irish.

I guess the meritorious and the sketchy COTY awards existing side by side is not so bad. As long as the college football world acknowledges who the GOAT is – one Nicholas Lou Saban Jr.

Next: There are two ways to look at the OU game.

Sometime in the future, at a time Alabama football fans shudder when considering, there will be another COTY award. It will be named for Nick Saban and we hope it is never awarded to a coach who just exceeded lower expectations.


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